Rare Bright Sprites Dance in South Dakota's Night Sky (Photos)

Sprites, Gravity Waves and Airglow
Astrophotographer Randy Halverson sent in a frame from a timelapse video taken of a storm in central South Dakota. The image shows sprites as the red flashes above the storm at right. Sprites consiste of large scale electrical discharges that occur high above clouds. Also the green airglow shows gravity waves as faint ripples. Halverson thanks Tom Warner and Dr. Walter Lyons for helping identify gravity waves. Video shot Aug. 20, 2014. (Image credit: Randy Halverson/Dakotalapse.com)

A storm over central South Dakota provided these stunning images for astrophotographer Randy Halverson.

The still images from a timelapse video on Aug. 20, show an amazing view of 'sprites' — rare electromagnetic bursts that form above thunderstorms.

"On August 20th, 2014, I timelapsed a storm over central South Dakota with multiple cameras. I left for Wyoming without looking at most of the frames," Halverson wrote on his website.  "When I got back I went through the frames and found 7 with sprites in them."

A storm over central South Dakota provided these stunning images for astrophotographer Randy Halverson. (Image credit: Randy Halverson/Dakotalapse.com)

The dancing lights have appeared above most thunderstorms throughout history, but researchers did not start studying them until one accidentally recorded a sighting on camera in 1989.

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Contributing Writer and Producer

Nina Sen is a freelance writer and producer who covered night sky photography and astronomy for Space.com. She began writing and producing content for Space.com in 2011 with a focus on story and image production, as well as amazing space photos captured by NASA telescopes and other missions. Her work also includes coverage of amazing images by astrophotographers that showcase the night sky's beauty.