Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Lightning Over Athens

Today's Astronomy Picture of the Day is Lightning Over Athens. Holy Crap!

lightning_kotsiopoulos 1.jpg

"Explanation: Have you ever watched a lightning storm in awe? Join the crowd. Oddly, nobody knows exactly how lightning is produced. What is known is that charges slowly separate in some clouds causing rapid electrical discharges (lightning), but how electrical charges get separated in clouds remains a topic of much research. Lightning usually takes a jagged course, rapidly heating a thin column of air to about three times the surface temperature of the Sun. The resulting shock wave starts supersonically and decays into the loud sound known as thunder. Lightning bolts are common in clouds during rainstorms, and on average 6,000 lightning bolts occur between clouds and the Earth every minute. Pictured above, an active lightning storm was recorded over Athens, Greece earlier this month."


Anonymous said...

The photograph reminded me of many I had viewed while a student at SUNY Albany. A professor of mine - Dr, Bernard Vonnegut (yes, brother of Kurt) was a world renowmed expert on Atmospheric Phenomena, including lightning.

As I recall, the prevailing theory at the time was that updrafts and downdrafts inside of large clouds induced charges inside the clouds with one charge building at the top of the cloud and the opposite charge building at the bottom of the cloud. Lightning resulted from this charge separation and accumulation inside of the clouds.

In any event, Dr. Vonnegut was perhaps the smartest person I have ever met, at least certainly concerning atmospheric science.

This link will take you a brief bio. It's really worth a read; and it has more detailed information regarding lighting.


Howard said...

Interesting read, thanks for the link.