Lightning Strikes

Worldwide, lightning strikes around 50 times every second (more than 4 million times every day). Electrical imbalances generated by turbulent skies are suddenly balanced by a spectacular discharge tracing across a darkened sky -- a display that is both frightening and awe-inspiring. Collected below are recent images of lightning around the world, including a rare image of an upper atmosphere "red sprite" flash captured by NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station. [24 photos total]

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Lightning pierces a dark sky above buildings in central Shanghai during a storm on August 15, 2012. (Reuters/Aly Song) #
Storm chaser photographer Mike Meadows is silhouetted as lightning strikes outside Lake Havasu City, Arizona as monsoon moisture continues to invade the Mojave deserts area, on July 30, 2012. (Reuters/Gene Blevins) #
A rainbow appears as lightning strikes after a rainstorm in Haikou, Hainan province, China, on May 13, 2012. (Reuters/China Daily) #
An elusive "red sprite" flash, photographed by Expedition 31 astronauts aboard the International Space Station on April 30, 2012. The sprite (upper right) appears high above a lightning strike (bright spot in the clouds). Red sprites only last for a few milliseconds, sending pulses of electrical energy up toward the edge of space--the electrically charged layer known as the ionosphere--instead of down to Earth's surface. More about this image on NASA's Earth Observatory. (NASA) #
A lightning bolt flashes above Independence Square near the landmark Palacio Salvo, in Montevideo, Uruguay, as a storm passes over the capital early on February 28, 2012. (Mariana Suarez/AFP/Getty Images) #
Lightning over the Grand Tetons. Original here. (CC BY ND Flickr user inuyashacow) #
Forks of lightning during a thunderstorm in Warsaw, Poland, on June 20, 2012. (Alex Grimm/Getty Images) #
Lightning streaks across the sky in Tyler, Texas as a powerful line of thunderstorms, several spawning tornadoes moved across Texas, on April 3, 2012. (AP Photo/Dr. Scott M. Lieberman) #
Lightning illuminates the sky above Donbass Arena during the Group D Euro 2012 soccer match Ukraine vs France in Donetsk, Ukraine, on June 15, 2012. The game was suspended due to heavy rain and thunder storm. (Reuters/Felix Ordonez) #
Lighting strikes behind a barn surrounded by a soybean crop in Donnellson, Iowa, on July 13, 2012. (Reuters/Adrees Latif) #
Viewed from low Earth orbit, lightning illuminates a cloud from within, above Oklahoma, on April 11, 2012. Photo taken by astronauts aboard the International Space Station, some 250 miles above the clouds. (NASA) #
Lightning strikes over buildings during a thunderstorm in Berlin, on June 29, 2012. (Reuters/Pawel Kopczynski) #
A double rainbow appears in the sky as lightning strikes during a severe thunderstorm in Hamilton, Ohio, on May 1, 2012. (AP Photo/Steve Vaughn) #
Lightning, during a storm above the Memorial Center in Potocari the night before a mass burial, near Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, on July 10, 2012. The bodies of 520 recently identified victims of the Srebrenica massacre were buried on July 11, the anniversary of the massacre when Bosnian Serb forces commanded by Ratko Mladic slaughtered 8,000 Muslim men and boys and buried them in mass graves, in Europe's worst massacre since World War Two. (Reuters/Dado Ruvic) #
Lightning strikes Lake Michigan, seen from Streeterville, north of downtown Chicago. Original here. (CC BY Chad Kainz) #
Lightning strikes over a house in the northern Swiss town of Muellheim, on August 20, 2012. (Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann) #
Lightning touches down during a storm in central Shanghai, on August 20, 2012. (Reuters/Aly Song) #
A flash of lightning illuminates the night sky during a thunderstorm in Cali, Valle del Cauca department, Colombia, on April 25, 2012. (Luis Robayo/AFP/Getty Images) #
Lighting strikes over Saint Joseph cathedral Hanoi, Vietnam, on July 14, 2012. (Reuters/Carlos Barria) #
Lightningin the sky above the Christopher Columbus monument at Madrid's Colon Square, on July 26, 2012. (Reuters/Juan Medina) #
Lightning bolts crisscross the sky above Lahore City, Pakistan, during a thunderstorm that was followed with heavy rain on April 13, 2012. (Arif Ali/AFP/Getty Images) #
A soldier from the U.S. Army's Alpha Company, 1-12 Infantry, 4th Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, mans a weapon during a lightning storm at Combat Outpost Pirtle-King in Afghanistan's Kunar Province, on June 8, 2012. (Reuters/Tim Wimborne) #
Forks of lightning during a thunderstorm above Warsaw, Poland, on June 20, 2012. (Alex Grimm/Getty Images) #
A double rainbow appears after a heavy monsoon storms over Nipton Road in Searchlight, Nevada, on July 13, 2012. (Reuters/Gene Blevins) #

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