Home > Atmospheric Phenomena, Ephemeris Program > 08/27/2015 – Ephemeris – Thunderstorms can produce sprites pointing upward

08/27/2015 – Ephemeris – Thunderstorms can produce sprites pointing upward

August 27, 2015

Ephemeris for Thursday, August 27th.  The Sun will rise at 6:59.  It’ll be up for 13 hours and 29 minutes, setting at 8:28.   The Moon, 2 days before full, will set at 5:32 tomorrow morning.

Thunderstorms are dangerous, as we experienced with the destruction our area experienced with the August 2nd storm.  But beside the lightning, wind, rain, hail and tornadoes thunderstorms also can produce sprites which appear to be electrical discharges extending above the tops of the clouds up to 56 miles.  While reported as far back as 1886, they were finally photographed in 1989.  They have been photographed many times since from the ground, aircraft and the International Space Station.  The images of them that I’ve seen appear to be red in color.  However there’s also Blue Jets, Blue Starters, Gigantic Jets and ELVES.  Wikipedia describes their appearance, but there appears to be little understanding of them.

Times are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan. They may be different for your location.



Photograph of Sprites over a Thunderstorm from the International Space Station. NASA/ISS edited by Bob Moler.

  1. August 27, 2015 at 10:34 pm

    What’s that in the western sky at approx. a 40 degre angle…due west of T.C.?
    Seems to have multi colors…no movement . Observed 10-10:30PM 8/27…

  2. August 27, 2015 at 11:31 pm

    I checked at 11 p.m. & verified using Stellarium. With the bright Moon out, the number of stars out is limited. It appears that you may be seeing the star Arcturus which did pass due west in the time period you stated at around 30 degree altitude. With the bright moon Arcturus appears pretty much alone. The Big Dipper,though may be glimpsed off to its right. Arcturus is the 4th brightest night time star.

    A way to tell is to check on subsequent nights. Your time period will hold for the next few nights, though due to the Earth’s motion around the Sun, Arcturus would hold the exact same position 4 minutes earlier each night. Arcturus is an orange star, and is a bit high up for atmospheric turbulence to introduce a lot of color variations. One star that does put on a show is Antares low in the southwest at that hour, to the left of Saturn. It’s a red star and our atmosphere does cause it to sputter like a sparkler in binoculars or a small telescope.

    If it’s not Arcturus, I have no idea what you may have seen. Use the star names as search terms in my blog for more information on them.

    Keep looking up!


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