‘Sprites’ may explain UFO sightings


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A natural phenomenon called "sprites" may offer an explanation for UFO sightings, a Tel Aviv University professor said.

Sprites, a flash of light high in the atmosphere 35 to 80 miles from the ground and up to 10 times higher than a regular lightning bolt, last for a fraction of second and only occur during thunderstorms, according to Professor Colin Price, head of the Geophysics and Planetary Sciences Department at the university.

The phenomenon has existed for millions of years, but was first discovered and documented in 1989. 

“Sprites, which only occur in conjunction with thunderstorms, never occur on their own and are cousins to similar natural phenomenon dubbed by atmospheric electricians as ‘elves,’ ‘goblins’ and ‘trolls,’ ” Price said.

Price and his students are working in collaboration with other Israeli scientists from The Open University and The Hebrew University to take three-dimensional pictures of sprites to gain a better understanding of their structure, using remote-controlled, roof-mounted cameras overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

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