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the view from the international space station, some 250 kilometres above earth. travelling at nearly 2900 kilometres an hour, it orbits the earth every ninety minutes. consider that if the earth was the size of a basketball, our atmosphere would be as thick as a sheet of paper. the reds and greens you see illuminating our atmosphere is the result of airglow (though in some of these it’s also the aurora). for more on airglow, see this post.

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“it’s often hard to understand the work we do and our interest in severe, dangerous storms,” notes photographer and storm chaser marko korošec. “on the one hand, they are beautiful and photogenic. on the other hand they regularly kill people.” 

“i’ve been close to lightning strikes several times, especially when observing them over open fields or when i’m on the cliffs above the coastal areas. it’s quite an interesting feeling when lightning hits next to you and you can feel the [shock] wave hitting your body.”

the most common form of a shock wave happens when air, heated by the lightning to about fifty thousand degrees fahrenheit, expands faster than the speed of sound, building up a pressure wave that’s nearly one hundred times normal atmospheric pressure. 

but despite the danger and unpredictability of lightning, korosec says, “i will never stop chasing storms. mother nature fascinates me and makes me want to conduct more and more research to try and understand storms and make everyone safer against their deadly power.”

Whoa! Two cloud-to-ground lightning bolts strike down over the mountains near White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. The Milky Way shines above and moon rays streak out from behind the clouds – creating even more drama in this spectacular shot. Photo courtesy of Mike Mezeul II. ⚡️