Astronomical and geophysical observatory in Modra, Slovakia

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Astronomical observatory
P.O.Box 4
900 01 Modra
tel.: +421 336475261


17°,27402056 E


48°,37327278 N


531.10 m

MPC code:



Transient luminous event is a short-lived electrical discharge that  appears in the upper atmosphere, typically in the altitude of 30 up to 90 km in the mesosphere. This very wide structure (tens of km) emerges above the storm systems. The most commonly observed TLEs are sprites. Sprites are column-like wide "lightnings" that start in the lower altitude and in a short, millisecond time interval, spread into higher altitudes and there they expand. The bottom part of the sprite resembles tendrils and the sprite itself looks like carrot leaves. In addition to the sprites, elves  (ring like features) appear above the sprites and in the stratosphere, less common blue jets are observed.

Thanks to double station all-sky video meteor observation we are able to detect sprites that appear above the distant storm systems. We do not see the storm or clouds of the thunderstorm or the thunderstorm itself because of the distance (typically 100-300 km) but the sprites are observed due to their high altitude above the horizon. In addition, amateur detections with wide-field video cameras give us higher resolution of individual sprites, if detected by multiple stations. Therefore, we are able to calculate the altitude and dimensions of these events. In the cooperation with geophysicists of the Comenius University, we started a research studying the connection and physical interpretation of sprites, lightnings and electric events in the upper atmosphere.

Sprite night - animated video of 15 sprites that emerged above the thunderstorm system above the Czech Republic on May 26, 2011 between 20:35:16UT and 22:55:59 UT.

The same, complex sprite, detected on May 26, 2011 at 21:51:42UT from 3 stations

AGO Modra (Astronomical observatory of the Comenius University, author: Peter Veres)

Arboretum Mlynany (remote site of the Astronomical observatory of the Comenius University, author: Peter Veres)

Nydek, Czech Republic. Author: Martin Popek.


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