Published Wednesday, 31 July 2013
The sprite appeared on camera as a flash of light. (© Armagh Observatory)
Sprites are difficult for humans to see as they are usually red in colour and last for just a few hundredths of a second.
Their discovery only came about in the 1980s, as a result of ever-improving camera technology.
While lightning often jumps between clouds or between clouds and the ground, sprites are associated with powerful electrical fields occurring high above the clouds in the Earth's atmosphere.
Apart from being extraordinary and awesome to behold, the relatively recent discovery of sprites reminds us that the Earth's upper atmosphere remains a mystery.
According to experts at Armagh Observatory, sprites are often associated with particularly intense thunderstorms and are usually observed at heights of 50-100km.
In the early hours of last Thursday, cameras at the facility picked up the sprite during a storm.
"Its ground location appears to have been at least 30km from Armagh and possibly up to 60km or more away, roughly towards the direction of counties Louth and Dublin," John McFarland from the Observatory said.
"It bears a striking resemblance to sprites recorded above a thunderstorm in Kansas in 2000."
Video footage of the sprite can be viewed on Armagh Observatory's website.
© UTV News