August 11, 2016 Western Iowa Sprites

The Perseids meteor shower peak night here looked to be cloudy, so I was open to trying the night before or after. I was about to go to bed this night before peak but quickly turned the computer back on for some reason. I wound up glancing at radar and seeing a nice north-south line in eastern SD. I then checked satellite and could see it was nice and clear here. The temptation to get sprites and meteors together was too strong, so out the door I went. One second I'm about to go to sleep, the very next I'm flying out the door for an all nighter.

It didn't take long before spotting my first sprites. I got them once before with auroras but I was not trying then. I've only ever tried a time or two. This would be my first time going out with the idea to get them and actually getting them. Too bad I'm back to a canon crop sensor now and that 1600 ISO at night is asking a lot from it. It's a manageable setting with a black night sky, but toss in any clouds and it's pretty messy. I'd have a frequent wall of low clouds in the frame through the night. There's a sprite in the lower left area of the above shot.

Sprites love the stratiform region behind storms, apparently where the big +CGs form...the positively charged cloud to ground bolts. The early sprites lower to the ground were likely coming from this area 225 miles away.

Sprite a bit higher up than the others I'd gotten thus far through the night.

Poorly placed meteor. There weren't a ton of them, even the night before shower peak. Even fewer bright enough to expose ones.

Starting to see some actual storms. I could see some earlier to the northwest but didn't point at them because there was no stratiform region behind them yet. This sprite is taking place well north of where the storms in the foreground are.

The sprites would now get higher up into the sky, as the stratiform regions formed and moved closer.

I moved my camera up the hill some to shoot over the hill better. I then walked back to my car and watched, as I could see high enough from there. This one was amazing when I saw it. I could clearly not only see the red tree branching as it happened but also the blue mixed in the bottom of it. Evidently seeing the blue ain't common. I wasn't even sure they had blue and only learned they did after getting home and looking. It was probably an ideal way to do so. For me they would be just above the dark hill. So in that case there was zero horizon lights affecting ones night vision. And I was staring right at the spot at the time. Plus these were getting pretty high up. These are shot with a 24mm F1.4 on a crop sensor.

Only 1 minute after the amazing sprite was a nice meteor. It was getting pretty cool now, seeing much brighter sprites and also some meteors. Twilight would kick in and end that however.

The two frames combined.

High bright sprites in twilight now. They really are cool to watch. Super fast though. I kind of want a cheap low light video camera now.

Twilight stop it! I got another after this one that really only barely shows. You could still see them happen. Hopefully more of these to come. Getting them doesn't seem it would be so hard. Just have to pay attention to stratiform regions at around these ranges. Then just head out if you also have clear skies. Apparently even a moon isn't a deal breaker on them.

I realize the video is moving too quickly to see these. I mostly put it together for the few sprites, which most should be able to be seen. I just thought it would be fun to label all the things zipping through the night sky. Turned out to be a pain in the butt! I think I have most of them and labelled correctly. Bored enough you can try the slower motion setting on here.