Pat Shingleton: "Sprites and Leaves..."
Sprites are blobs of light above a thunderstorm and can be 100 miles wide and often extend 60 miles into the ionosphere. Since 1886, scientific literature referenced sprites even though it was impossible to capture a picture of one. During a thunderstorm in Minnesota in July, 1989, two University of Minnesota scientists accidentally captured a sprite while conducting a test for a rocket flight. On July 7, 1993, in the High Plains during a series of thunderstorms, 240 sprites were recorded. Nearly 48 hours later, scientists from the University of Alaska captured numerous sprites from a high-flying NASA aircraft. Since then, more than 10,000 sprites have been monitored from Colorado’s Yucca Ridge Field Station from low-light television tests. At 2:50 AM Monday morning, Autumn began. It also launches the changing-of-the-leaves and New England seems to have the best. Leaf pigments, length of night and weather affect the color of changing leaves. Each leaf contains a certain amount of antho-cyanins that act like a sunscreen and once the chlorophyll begins to break down, photosynthesis slows. This process retards the absorption of light and excess light damages the leaves. Researchers determined that nutrient-poor leaves, low in nitrogen causes the intense red color of sugar maple leaves. The peak foliage dates for Maine are October 1st through the 21st with New Hampshire offering displays from September 28th through October 21st. Vermont’s best viewing times are October 5th through the 28th. The Farmer’s Almanac has designated the peak times in Louisiana from November 2nd through the 11th.
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