A 'GREEN GHOST' OVER TIBET:
Three years ago, a photographer in Oklahoma discovered the first "Green Ghost"--a patch of verdant light that appears when powerful sprites strike the top of Earth's atmosphere.
Now the phenomenon has been detected in Tibet as well. Soheil Esy was trekking through the Himalaya on May 19th when this spectcular wall of sprites lit up the night sky:
"This happened on my 13th night of star chasing in Tibet, carrying 4 camera stands and lenses with multiple focal lengths," says Esy. "I have always believed that you should give yourself completely to nature, wait and prepare unceasingly, and the sky will reward you with more than you can imagine. My patience was definitely rewarded."
"The outbreak was triggered by strong lightning over China, perhaps hundreds of kilometers away," he continues. "We could also see ripples of red airglow surrounding the sprites. It was truly the fireworks of the Universe."
After one outburst subsided, Esy photographed a green afterglow--the Green Ghost:
Researchers are still learning about this phenomenon. A leading theory holds that Green Ghosts appear when the tops of strong sprites hit the airglow layer ~90 km above Earth's surface. Oxygen atoms briefly glow green, marking the location of the impact.
"I believe this could be the first Green Ghost sighted over China," says Esy, "and the image could provide valuable data for research."