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above x2: Photos by David Finlay, from here.

The BBC news article Rare 'sprites' photographed beside Southern Lights shows photographs by the Australian photographer David Finlay. They are remarkably clear and distinct, and set against a clear night sky filled with stars. (The two fuzzy blue blobs are the large and small Magellanic Clouds - dwarf galaxies in the local group.)

I had thought that sprites were challenging to photograph not only because they are dim and rare requiring a special low-light cooled-CCD camera and luck, but that one had to be almost directly above a thunderstorm. This is a view of an almost completely clear sky, from the ground with a normal camera.

Are the clouds and light in the distance at the bottom of the first image the source of these sprites? There is really that much difference in altitude between the sprite and the associated thunderstorm?

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