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Lightning Storms Photographed From High Above in Space

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Hey aspiring storm chasers — want to dramatically improve your lightning shots? Try getting an elevated view. Like about 400 miles up. That’s the approximate orbital height above Earth of the International Space Station, which is producing an impressive library of images showing what lightning looks like from way above.

The latest (shown above), captured July 21 by astronaut Karen Nyberg, shows an early-morning storm lighting up the clouds over Southern California.

Previous space voyagers have caught amazing views of storm over Africa, lightning flashes forming an abstract pattern with a meteor shower trail and the bright red flashes from “sprites,” upper atmosphere electrical disturbances related to lightning.

Enjoy the atmospheric show, and don’t forget to take off the tin-foil beanie if you’re going to try this yourself.


The bluish flashes are lightning
This lightning photo includes an elusive red sprite
This lightning photo includes an elusive red sprite





Image credits: “Early morning lightning, inland of LA and San Diego,” by Karen Nyberg/NASA, “West Coast of Africa at Night” by NASA, “Stunning Lyrids Over Earth at Night,” NASA, “Clouds, Lightning, Airlgow and Lights of Civilization in Africa” by NASA, “Lightning Sprite Seen from Space” by NASA, thunderstorm photo by ESA astronaut André Kuipers

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