MadSci Network: Physics

Re: what is the color of lightning?

Date: Wed Sep 8 13:41:33 1999
Posted By: Suzanne Willis, professor,Northern Illinois University
Area of science: Physics
ID: 934122455.Ph

Hello, Eric!

There is a lot of information about lightning at the site 
[Note that this site has a religious component; I believe that the
science is sound]
In particular, it gives the temperature of lightning as 27,600C - the
thermal emission from air (or anything!) heated to that temperature
would indeed be a bluish white. You may also get some emission lines
from ionized atoms; it would be interesting to look at the spark with
a diffraction grating. This would tell you whether you have a continuous
spectrum, or emission lines combining to appear continuous to your eye.

There is a lightning Webring at

more lightning
You can find a lot of other information here.

Measurements have been done of the spectrum of lightning near the earth;
lines coming from vaporized material from the ground are seen. Check out:


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