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Telescope sprites

Try detecting these small plasma discharges.

One of the most electrifying experiences in visual observing is catching sight of something you don’t expect — and also can’t explain.

Many of us are familiar with unexpected events, like an exploding meteor or a vivid aurora. Although we cannot predict these events precisely, we can maximize our chances of seeing one by looking skyward when, say, there’s a meteor shower or solar storm. In time, constant vigilance will reward our efforts.

But what of the unexplained? Ah, here we have an uncommon beast that can lead to nights of research, speculation, and, in the end, head scratching. This happened to me the night of November 1, 2016.

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