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Wanting to learn sprite observation

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6 replies to this topic

#1 Zamboni

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Posted 27 April 2021 - 02:54 PM

I live in Colorado Springs, and during the summer it's not uncommon for intense thunderstorms to be visible Eastward towards Kansas. Transient luminous events in the upper atmosphere fascinate me, and seeing a sprite is on my bucket list.

I'm curious if anybody else here is interested/experienced in sprite observation and can give me pointers? What are good resources for tracking storms to improve my chances of seeing them? I have a couple of dark sites I go to with clear, unlit Eastern horizons, and I can use the map overlay features in AstroSpheric to figure out my best chances of seeing them if I use it in conjunction with a good storm tracking resource.

I'm more interested in trying to see them visually rather than photograph them since I don't really have the right kind of equipment. Would it be good to use some sort of shield to block the light from the lightning itself? Naked eye, or would small wide-angle binoculars be beneficial?

I've got a hundred questions, but also know there's probably questions I don't even know to ask! I've tried the Googletubes, but have had very little luck finding tips that aren't tailored around camera settings.

#2 Keith Rivich

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Posted 27 April 2021 - 05:06 PM

I visually saw sprites in a thunderstorm only once, many years ago.

 

Details:

 

We were at the Texas Star Party, 10 years ago or so, and to the north, near Monahans, was a very intense thunderstorm. The mountain just north of the observing field blocked the lightning itself but allowed us to see the very tops of the thunderhead. Time was right around sunset. Not quite dark, not quite light. The air was very clear.

 

What we saw:

The sprites looked like colorless "echos" shooting up from the cloud tops. Very nearly required averted vision. Through binoculars the sprite were brighter but harder to find due to the smaller field of view. Only about 1 in 10 lightning flashes had a sprite. 

 

A few years ago one of our speakers was able to photograph sprites from the TSP fields over a thunderstorm that was near Ft Stockton. Very cool.


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#3 EricTheCat

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Posted 27 April 2021 - 06:21 PM

I have Photographed sprites on 4 occasions after many, many attempts.  I visually saw sprites only once.  

 

The time I visually saw sprites I was set up for meteors when I saw a set of faint sprites.  I saw no color and they looked quite faint but I was reasonably sure I had seen them.  I then switched from my wide lens to my 50mm f/1.2 and managed to catch 4 so-so sprite images after that but even though I was watching for them the entire time I did not manage to see another one visually. 

 

Not sure that any of that helps but I like your goal and I hope you succeed!


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#4 t_image

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Posted 27 April 2021 - 10:07 PM

I live in Colorado Springs, and during the summer it's not uncommon for intense thunderstorms to be visible Eastward towards Kansas. Transient luminous events in the upper atmosphere fascinate me, and seeing a sprite is on my bucket list.

I'm curious if anybody else here is interested/experienced in sprite observation and can give me pointers? What are good resources for tracking storms to improve my chances of seeing them? I have a couple of dark sites I go to with clear, unlit Eastern horizons, and I can use the map overlay features in AstroSpheric to figure out my best chances of seeing them if I use it in conjunction with a good storm tracking resource.

I'm more interested in trying to see them visually rather than photograph them since I don't really have the right kind of equipment. Would it be good to use some sort of shield to block the light from the lightning itself? Naked eye, or would small wide-angle binoculars be beneficial?

I've got a hundred questions, but also know there's probably questions I don't even know to ask! I've tried the Googletubes, but have had very little luck finding tips that aren't tailored around camera settings.

Tristan,

Good question.

Don't know if you ever spent time in EAA or now new Night Vision section on CN,

but I bet the guy that has the most time racked up ever seeing them is

CN member: cnocht.

yt channel:

https://www.youtube.com/user/cnoct

give him a P/M at least.

not sure he reads this section.

I bet he will be able to give you honest feedback of your chances naked eye and secrets to spotting them.

His location and gear (image intensifier night vision) gives him an advantage,

but I've found using gear in a cutting edge way to give experience sometimes can be the best mentor to know a subject.


Edited by t_image, 27 April 2021 - 10:08 PM.


#5 MEE

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Posted 27 April 2021 - 10:57 PM

https://spaceweather...e.com/?s=Sprite

 

- various articles

 

https://m.youtube.co...h?v=15Rdfz1UPJk - good video

 

https://spaceweather...=2019&view=view - see “how to look for sprites” graphic 

 

 


Edited by MEE, 27 April 2021 - 11:05 PM.


#6 t_image

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Posted 28 April 2021 - 02:25 AM

Also there is a fb group to connect with other spotters.

https://www.facebook...76355972487572/

 

A pbs episode/

https://www.pbs.org/...nova-edge-space

requires purchase

 

and a researcher site:

http://ibis.nmt.edu/...es/sprites.html



#7 Zamboni

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Posted 28 April 2021 - 09:54 AM

That NOVA episode was what got me interested in the topic initially, and those Pecos Hank videos have been fueling the fire for quite some time.

Thanks for all the resources. Once I've had a chance to go through all this I'll PM the EAA guy who does the sprite spotting.


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