Video camera technology has improved immensely in recent years, allowing scientists like lightning physicist Vladislav Mazur and meteorologist Tom Warner to analyze high speed footage of these captivating bolts of electricity in the sky.
With footage taken from the International Space Station, NASA fan Bruce W Berry Jr cleaned up and created this Time-Lapse | Earth homage. The location views are listed in order:
1. A Jump over the Terminator 2. Sarychev Volcano 3. From Turkey to Iran* 4. Hurricane Irene Hits the US 5. Indian Ocean to Pacific Ocean Through the Cupola* 6. Central Great Plains at Night* 7. Aurora Borealis over the North Atlantic Ocean* 8. Aurora Borealis from Central U.S.* 9. Up the East Coast of North America* 10. Myanmar to Malaysia* 11. Western Europe to Central India 12. Middle East to the South Pacific Ocean 13. Aurora Borealis over Europe* 14. City Lights over Middle East* 15. European City Lights* 16. Northwest coast of United States to Central South America at Night 17. Moonglow over Canada and Northern U.S.* 18. Stars from the Pacific Ocean (1) 19. Stars from the Pacific Ocean (2) 20. Stars from the Pacific Ocean (3) 21. Stars and the Milky Way over the Atlantic* 22. The Milky Way and Storms over Africa (1) 23. The Milky Way and Storms over Africa (2)
Footage Note: The slower video represents a closer resemblance to the true speed of the International Space Station; this footage was shot at one frame per second. Clips are all marked with an *.
Like many of the later Silly Symphonies, The Old Mill was a testing-ground for advanced animation techniques. Marking the first use of Disney’s multiplane camera, the film also incorporates realistic depictions of animal behavior, complex lighting and color effects, depictions of rain, wind, lightning, ripples, splashes and reflections, three-dimensional rotation of detailed objects, and the use of timing to produce specific dramatic and emotional effects. All of the lessons learned from making The Old Mill would subsequently be incorporated into Disney’s feature-length animated films, especially 1937’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
A downward lightning negative ground flash captured at 7,207 images per second. A negative stepped leader emerges from the cloud and connects with the ground forming a return stroke.
How does lightning form? Evidently we’re still trying to figure it out! It all starts in the clouds where both ice crystals and hail stones form:
Scientists believe that as these hail stones fall back through the rising ice crystals, millions of tiny collisions occur. These collisions build up an electric charge which is stored in the cloud like a battery. ”A cloud is very much like a battery, but a battery with a much higher voltage than your typical flashlight battery… not 1.5 volts but 100 million volts.”
But what scientists don’t know is exactly how this electric charge generates lightning. “What remains a major meteorological mystery is how it is that ice particle collisions result in the generation of lightning. We’re very much in the middle ages on that problem.”