Scientists Captured a Rare Photo of Red & Blue Lightning Shooting Toward Space

Two unusual lightning phenomena are seen shooting up from a cloud.

Our sky has all sorts of tricks up its sleeve, and one of those tricks has been caught on camera. In an incredibly rare moment, two colorful streaks of lightning were caught shooting out of a cloud over a vast Hawaiian landscape, making for a beautiful and educational image about our planet's lesser-known phenomena.

The colorful streaks of light are two separate but complementary lightning phenomena. The reddish-orange portion is what's called a red sprite, a massive electric discharge that typically appears above a thunderstorm cloud. The bluish-purple portion is called a blue jet, a form of lightning discharge that's rarer and brighter than the sprite.

Beyond the colors, you'll notice that the sprite-jet combo are shooting up out of a thundercloud toward space, rather than striking down toward the ground from a thundercloud, adding an extra layer of intrigue.

The photo was taken with the Gemini North telescope, which rests at an elevation of about 13,800 feet at the Gemini Observatory on Hawaii's Big Island. The high altitude, sweeping landscape, and low light pollution helped set the stage for the dramatic shot. According to the observatory, the photo was actually captured on July 24, 2017, but only recently published online.

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Kyler Alvord is a news writer at Thrillist. Find him on Twitter and Instagram. Or don't. It's really up to you.