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Looking for sprites, not the elfin kind

November 2, 2010

The hunt for sprites was on after strange lights in the night sky above thunderstorms were first reported and documented. Meteorologist Walter Lyons will speak about his research into sprites, which are similar in color to the polar northern and southern lights.

In search of a sprite yourself? When in rural areas, look above the area where large thunderstorms are occurring (100 to 300 miles away).

Thursday, Nov. 4
9:30-11:30 a.m.
First United Methodist Church
1005 Stover Street

Walter Lyons, Ph.D., meteorologist and principal investigator on various government and private industry research projects, has a lifelong interest in severe weather.

Sprites: 'Above the storm'

He will speak about his landmark observations of "sprites" -- which are a new form of lightning-related flashes in the middle atmosphere. Lyons has a weather laboratory east of Fort Collins.

Join us on Thursday, Nov. 4, 9:30-11:30 a.m. at First United Methodist Church, 1005 Stover St., Fort Collins. This program is free to the community. Donations to the CSUWA Scholarship Fund will be accepted.

What is a sprite?

A sprite is a very brief, luminous glow that occurs in the middle atmosphere that is caused by extremely powerful lightning discharges. They are like giant sparks caused by powerful, positive cloud-to-ground flashes that momentarily increase the electrical field in the middle atmosphere. 

Sprites often start around 45 miles high (in the mesosphere) and extend upwards to the edge of the ionosphere (around 55-60 miles) and sometimes downwards into the stratosphere below (to as low as 15-20 miles). They are primarily red in color, except for some bluish tinge in the downward extending tendrils. (Source:

About the CSU Women's Association

This event is being sponsored by the CSUWA. The Colorado State University Women's Association was founded in 1910 and is an educational, service, & social organization that provides scholarship opportunities to CSU students.

Contact: Lana Olsson
Phone: (970) 482-3951