I had never thought I could observe sprites at home in front of a computer! The Danish National space Institute installed two camera observing systems at two locations – one on Pic Du Midi in Pyrenees and one on Monte Corona in Corsica. The camera systems can be operated remotely as long as there is a computer and internet connection, and they are controlled via the Danish National Space Institute. The Institute hosts a site where people can view real time images and maps of thunderstorm locations from a satellite. I signed up to be part of a group of interested scientists who would like to participate in the 2008 EuroSprite Observational campaign.
My first observation period started on Monday September 15 through Sunday September 22. In the first two days of my observations, there were not many lightning activities. On the 3rd day (Wednesday), there was a huge thunderstorm system. I spent a few hours on my laptop, following the lightning activity and pointing the cameras to where positive lightning occurred. On Thursday, I accidentally looked at a page in the EuroSprite manual and noticed that I forgot to key in an important command that would be needed to trigger images. I felt like a goof. It is like sitting behind the wheel stepping on gas and thought I was driving while the engine was not even turned on. Thursday was not good for hunting because the cameras on Pic Du Midi were not cooperating and the cameras on Monte Corona were too far away from the thunderstorm. Friday was the only good day for sprite hunting. It was exhilarating to see the sprites that I captured though I was exhausted after hours in front of my laptop. So during the whole week, I only captured two incidents of sprites with the cameras on Monte Corona.
Though the pictures were not close-up shots (I’m a new user so I still have lots to learn how to get a better shot), I’m pleased to have at least captured something. It was fun and interesting. This could be a great project for my students!