Babbling Word

News for nerds

Resident who spotted strange colour-changing lights in the sky above Leicester may have been seeing sprites, meteor experts claim.

Photos of what was seen in the sky at about 11.30pm on Monday were shared online in a bid to find answers.

The person who tool the images told Leicestershire Live anonymous: “It was at 11:30pm, I spotted the lines in the sky.

“After about 30 seconds of me noticing them and taking a picture they turned a red colour they were there probably for about five minutes, they didn’t move but then faded.

“They were a bright white,” when the witness first noticed them.

“I often look out and get pictures of the stars but that was the first time I’ve seen anything like that.

“I was just intrigued to know what they were really.”

A spokeswoman from the UK Meteor Observation Network provided an insight into what they might have been.

They said: “These look like sprites to me: transient luminous events which are quite rare.”

Skybrary – a website dedicated to aviation safety knowledge – said sprites are “short-lived flashes of bright red light”.

“They occur above large storm systems, reach 50–90km in altitude, and are triggered by positive discharges of lightning between the top of a thundercloud and the ground (commonly called positive giants).”

Skybrary states that the name sprite is an acronym for Stratospheric/mesospheric Perturbations Resulting from Intense Thunderstorm Electrification.

They are reddish-orange or greenish-blue in colour with hanging tendrils (sometimes referred to as “carrot sprites”) and arcing branches above.

Unlike tropospheric lightning, sprites are cold plasma, similar to fluorescent tube discharge.