Talk:Upper-atmospheric lightning

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Are websites such as [1] legit for references? Wikidan829 01:26, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

As a self-published piece, probably not so good. But it does have good refs, so should be very helpful in getting to reliable sources. And you can email the guy to ask for copies of stuff, I bet. Dicklyon 04:20, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

Talk page cleanup, Shuttle update[edit]

I think it's about time to clean up this talk page before resuming work on this article.. leave the mess behind. Now that it is moved, and a lot of other issues have been resolved, can we decide what to clean up? It's not my place to say what is resolved and what isn't, especially since I didn't show up here until after most of this took place.

  • Article creation - I think this is now n/a as we have moved the article into the more generic upper-atmospheric lightning.
  • Shuttle challenger, Removal of shuttle photo, Image Poll, Assume good faith, Permission denied to use photo and Reviewing the bidding - This had to do with mentioning the Columbia disaster and using a purported picture of a sprite hitting the shuttle, which we were denied permission to use anyway.

In fact, the purported "lightning" seen in one of the 8-second time exposure pictures of Columbia as it passed over Napa Valley was determined by a NASA panel to have been caused by the photographer bumping his camera. There was no lightning - or sprite - connection to the Columbia accident whatsoever.

  • Shuttle update - This one really comes down to importance, really. Yes, it was a big event. However, is the fact that NASA "considered" that it may have been upper-atmospheric lightning, important enough? I'll make a POV statement and say that I thought the explosion was from plasma created by friction from the broken(or missing) tiles on the bottom of the shuttle, nothing to do with lightning.

I don't think this belongs in the article, period. If it is, then it should be explicitly stated that this hypothesis was immediately discredited by a NASA panel of experts in plasma processes, lightning, and upper atmospheric discharge physics.

The problem wasn't friction with missing tile areas, but the normal hot plasma getting inside the wing through an abnormal hole that was caused by the collision with the tank foam. Dicklyon 02:36, 15 May 2007 (UTC)
Well kinda what I meant, I explained it wrong. The "sharp edges"(or holes) created by the missing tiles caused more friction than there should have been, on top of exposing the wing. Wikidan829 02:51, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

Can we clean this stuff up? Wikidan829 02:26, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

Yes, please do. Dicklyon 02:36, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

Sprites first[edit]

Good call, I was just sorting them alphabetically, would have helped if I actually read it first. ;) Unfortunately I'm having a busy week so far. Hopefully I'll be able to research this further in the next day or so. Wikidan829 14:20, 16 May 2007 (UTC)

In this page, the origin of the term "sprites" is given as taken from Ariel in Shakespeare's The Tempest. However, in the page devoted to sprites, the origin is given as Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream. Which is correct? Kakashi64 (talk) 14:47, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

No ref in "Blue Jet"[edit]

Is this an appropriate tag for this section? Did it follow through when we did that move? Wikidan829 17:10, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

I changed it to a section tag. Other sections need more refs, too, so please do add whatever you have that supports the content. Here is a good place to look.Dicklyon 17:25, 14 June 2007 (UTC)
Very well, thought something sounded wrong ;) Thanks Dick. Wikidan829 17:23, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

Added a reference for the first line, probably addresses one or more of the other lines. Could probably supply more references for things if needed. Plenty of material out there if you want to go looking... Don't know if I have time to summarize it all, but might try. Will also be adding sections for TROLLs, TIGERs, sprite haloes, etc. Eventually. Plenty more upper atmospheric electrical processes than are currently listed here... Mgmirkin (talk) 10:39, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

For a decent summary of additional items to add to this article, I might refer you to a couple other sources online:

Cheers, Mgmirkin (talk) 10:39, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

  • If anyone has better references (papers from or other sources and whatnot), feel free to put them up. Simply offered the ones I'd seen that mentioned the most terms / processes not already in the article, as-is. Assume "sprite halos" should be part of the "sprites" section (may be precursor to sprites; also seems to be very similar in nature to ELVEs, despite being lower, and smaller). Blue Starters, Blue Jets and Giant Blue Jets could likely be all lumped together into one section (with sub-headers?). Gnomes, Pixies & TIGERs should probably get their own sections?
  • Debating whether sections should be arranged ascending by height-from-ground? IE, Gnomes / Pixies first, then Blue Starters, Blue Jets, Giant Blue Jets. Next would be Sprite Haloes, and Sprites (Giant Blue Jets leads in well, I'd guess, since they may be some combination of blue jets + sprites), along with the sprite tendrils and beads. I think at above that would be ELVEs. I'm not sure where in the scale TIGERs fall... —Preceding unsigned comment added by Mgmirkin (talkcontribs) 11:12, 18 February 2008 (UTC) (Oops, forgot to sign it. Sorry. It was late, and I was tired. Mgmirkin (talk) 23:59, 18 February 2008 (UTC))

I might also humbly suggest the use of the AMS Meteorology glossary: American Meteorological Society, Glossary of Meteorology, Second Edition, 2000 (reproduced on that page, with permission), which has several entries on sprites, blue jets and possibly other atmospheric electrical interactions? Cheers, Mgmirkin (talk) 10:53, 18 February 2008 (UTC)


Wondering if we should paraphrase the "100-year search for sprites" and "Sprites, Elves, and Glow Discharge Tubes" articles to flesh out the history header. Currently there's only a paltry 1 sentence on "history." Long story short, people have seen these phenomena intermittently for at least 100 years, but since many of them are so dim or short-lived, they couldn't be confirmed until recent innovation in high speed photography and much more sensitive optics / cameras. Anecdotal evidence also indicates (though I don't have a cite, ATM) that pilots have seen these kinds of weird phenomena for many years, but either reported and were disbelieved, or failed to report for fear of disbelief and/or reprisal (along the lines of "You saw a UFO? Ha ha ha! You're fired!"; okay, maybe a bit glib, but probably not too far off the mark in terms of not wanting to report "weird" phenomena, as groupthink is rather unfortunately a powerful force). My 2c, for what it's worth. Cheers, Mgmirkin (talk) 11:18, 18 February 2008 (UTC)

Giant Jets or Gigantic Jets?[edit]

The article currently uses the header "Giant Jets," however, the couple of reliable sources I've found use the term "Gigantic Jets." Perhaps it's a quibble. But, I'm inclined to use the term that appears to be most frequently used in articles on the topic. 12 3 For now, I'll Be Bold and update the section header to "Gigantic Jets." Mgmirkin (talk) 01:10, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

  • I've re-titled "Giant Jets" to "Gigantic Jets" per the aforementioned sources. If someone has additional sources, feel free to offer them in support of or in opposition to that naming convention. Mgmirkin (talk) 01:37, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
  • I've also moved the "Blue Jets" and "Gigantic Jets" sections into proximity, as they appear to be related topics. Considering making them subsection of a larger section simply entitled "Jets" (which should likely eventually include Blue Starters and Gnomes). Mgmirkin (talk) 01:37, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
  • I've been bold and structuralized the aforementioned "Jets" section proposal. I've also added a short section on "blue starters." Right now it mainly includes a couple quotes or paraphrases from existing articles (with appropriate references). But I'd consider thar snippet only stub-class. Feel free to expand upon it from any reliable sources that might be available. Mgmirkin (talk) 02:31, 2 June 2008 (UTC)
  • I've also moved the "Blue Jets" and "Gigantic Jets" sections earlier in the article (prior to "Sprites"), in an effort to make the flow of the article more logical, in line with my prior suggestion to proceed from lower level processes (just above the cloud tops) to mid-level processes (such as sprites) to the most upper level processes (such as ELVEs). Hopefully this is a sensible revision? Mgmirkin (talk) 01:37, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

Sorry if I'm doing this wrong (don't Wiki-stone me!), but I just wanted to say... I'm not sure why the "dubious?" tag is there on the description of the speed of the Areceibo events, but I looked at the actual Nature letter, and they state the lower bound for post-branching speed as 1.9-2.2e6 m/s... so an order of magnitude higher than stated in this article. The same goes for the other numbers given in the article, I think. If the numbers were considered dubious and left that way for 3 years, what's the point of including references? (talk) 07:04, 28 February 2012 (UTC)spameroo

I also suggest that it might be sensible to create a top-level section for sprites, subdivided into "Sprites," "Sprite Halos," "Beads," and "TROLLs." (I hate the goofiness of the names, but them's the breaks when scientists have a sense of humor and name things fancifully...) Mgmirkin (talk) 01:37, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

A little history about the origin of the term "sprite" might be in order here. The name "sprite" was purposely adopted in response to a naming problem that came up in early investigations. The first name given to them was actually "cloud-to-stratospheric" (CS) discharge, because Jack Winckler had incorrectly guessed the terminal altitude to be ~35 km, based on his pioneering video observation. This descriptive name had several problems: (1) it assumed a point of origin (cloud), (2) terminus (stratosphere), (3) direction of propagation (upward), and (4) physical mechanism (discharge). At the time none of these were known for certain, and all except (4) subsequently turned out to be incorrect. The point of ignition (1) turned out to be the mesosphere at ~ 75-80 km, the topside terminus (2) turned out to be the ionosphere ~90 km, and the direction of propagation (3) of the major portion of the sprite turned out to be downward. There were other mechanisms besides a discharge (4) that had also been proposed (e.g., photoexcitation of neutral fluorescence induced by underlying lightning), but it turned out that it really was a discharge, albeit of an exotic form. Moving away from a descriptive name and renaming them "sprites" solved several problems: (1) It was nonjudgmental about characteristics that were unknown or conjuctural, and because of this (2) avoided having to rename it every time one or more of the unknown parameters was finally worked out. Additionally, the term "sprite" neatly captured the fleeting and transient nature of these nighttime phenomena and their almost ghost-like qualities.

At the time the term "sprite" gained currency, beginning in 1993, this was the only known type of upper atmospheric discharge. When other phenomenologically distinct processes were later discovered, beginning in 1994, some researchers adopted similarly whimsical names from mythology, such as ELVES, trolls, goblins, pixies, etc., although this practice has not been uniformly followed (e.g., blue jets, blue starters, sprite halos).

Blue Jets[edit]

Is it just me, or does this paragraph seem a bit odd, and need fixing: "Blue jets occur much less frequently than sprites; less than a hundred images have been obtained to date (2007). The majority of these images, which include the first color imagery, were obtained by researchers from the University of Alaska during a single aircraft flight in 1994 to study an intense Arkansas thunderstorm."

It almost seems to assume that the reason/citation for the "much less frequently" is the "less than a hundred images" statement.. But if there was only ONE research flight made to produce the majority of those images, wouldn't it be more correct to say "Blue jets are much less frequently studied than sprites" since that's basically what the section is saying? Am I missing something here? Mind you, I am not a meteorologist.. For all I know, maybe they need to detect some jets first before sending out a research mission to look at them, and that's why they haven't sent any since '94.. Weasel5i2 (talk) 21:38, 26 June 2008 (UTC)

Formed a new article on sprites[edit]

I boldly did this before reading the talk archive from 2007, but still feel good doing this. Somehow, the section on sprites in the lightning article remained fairly long despite the splitting off of this information two years ago, and the information within it was different from the sprite information within this article on upper-atmospheric lightning. This information was merged and split off into the new article, which led to a better overall product which was better referenced than either version alone. Placing a referenced version of the lead of the sprites article in the lightning article helped out a bit with its length. However, by doing so in this article, the size of this article has been reduced by about 30 percent, or 4 kb. I wanted to let you know the whys of what happened, before assuming anything but good faith on my part. Thegreatdr (talk) 22:11, 18 February 2009 (UTC)

I can certainly see that this was done in good faith and I understand your rationale. But, it seems to me from reading the articles that sprites are the heart of the upper atmospheric lightning family of phenomena. Blue jets and elves look to be much less frequent and less-observed than sprites, and Wikipedia has correspondingly less information on them. Given that both the upper-atmospheric lightning article and sprites article are both not very long or dense, I think the content of the sprites article would be best at home in the upper-atmospheric lightning article rather than off on its own. I think it's best to have all the info on upper-atmospheric lightning phenomena in one place, since all of it together wouldn't be that big of an article anyway and the subject matter is all closely related. I do have a merger proposal active to combine the sprites (lightning) article, as well as the Transient luminous event article, into the upper-atmospheric lightning article. Darkest tree (talk) 20:24, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

Article now rated in the Meteorology Project[edit]

Due to the amount of work found in this article ,I am rating it at mid-importance at C-level to begin in the Meteorology Project of articles. This is just a quick overview. —Will research for food (talk) 18:21, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

Notification: Discussion to merge/re-direct to this article...[edit]

The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section. A summary of the conclusions reached follows.
The result of this discussion was to merge the article Transient luminous event into Upper-atmospheric lightning. Darkest tree (talk) 21:21, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

A discussion exists to redirect the TLE page to here...see Talk:Transient luminous event Any reasons to or not to proceed, please discuss at the above talk page asap. —Will research for food (talk) 18:24, 25 January 2010 (UTC)

Added merger tag on the Transient luminous event page. I support the redirect/merger and noted that on Talk:Transient luminous event. Darkest tree (talk) 20:15, 7 January 2011 (UTC)
The discussion on Talk:Transient luminous event supports merging that article into this one. Given the lack of any objections and the time that has passed, I've closed the discussion on the merger proposal on that article's talk page today (that proposal should have been here, but no harm done). I'm going to implement the merge. Darkest tree (talk) 23:03, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

The above discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made in a new section.

Proposal to merge Sprite[edit]

I'm also proposing to merge the article Sprite (lightning) to this article, as noted above in Talk:Upper-atmospheric lightning#Formed a new article on sprites. I've tagged the pages as appropriate. Darkest tree (talk) 23:19, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

Moved my above comment into its own section. If there are no other thoughts on this, I'll proceed with the merge shortly. Darkest tree (talk) 16:05, 21 October 2011 (UTC)

Sprites and Cosmic rays?[edit]

I recall reading many years ago, that these sort of things that occurred above lightning were triggered by cosmic rays (or possibly that may have been cosmic ray showers). The theory went that the cloud was almost ready to discharge lightning to the ground or another cloud, a ray/shower occurred which ionized the air above the cloud, creating a path that was sudenlhy more conductive, so instead of the discharge going to ground or another cloud, it went up along the ionisation path. There is nothing like that in this article. So.... is this theory dead? (This question asked in both Upper-atmospheric lightning and Sprite). (talk) 09:26, 10 October 2012 (UTC)

Where's the Ionosphere?[edit]

The graphic at the top of the article mysteriously omits any indication or naming of the ionosphere. Isn't that odd for this article which is all about ionospheric phenomena? Tmangray (talk) 17:42, 10 February 2013 (UTC)