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Electric Earth: Stunning Images of Lightning

Lightning over the Desert

Lightning over the Desert

(Image credit: ESO/G. Hüdepohl)

In this photo, taken on June 7, 2013, a furious thunderstorm rages over the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. This part of the Atacama Desert is home to the European Southern Observatory's Paranal Observatory. On average, this region experiences an astonishing number of clear days —roughly 330 days a year. Lightning over the observatory is rare, since it located in one of the driest places in the world.

Four VLT Unit Telescopes can be seen atop Cerro Paranal, which rises 8,530 feet (2,600 meters) above sea level. Each of these telescopes is the size of an eight-story building.

A solitary star, called Procyon, is also visible on the left of the image. This star is a bright binary star in the constellation of Canis Minor (The Lesser Dog).

Lightning Storm in Oregon

Lightning Storm in Oregon

(Image credit: Steve Lenz/Steve Lenz Photography)

Photographer Steve Lenz captured this incredible lightning photo in northeast Oregon, outside the city of Milton-Freewater. The region is characterized by rolling hills, and treeless agriculture, he said. Lenz snapped this electrifying shot during a storm on July 20, 2012.

"I was out in the middle of this storm with lightning crashing all around (a few miles away) and excitedly taking photos," Lenz told LiveScience in an email. "This photo is the last one I got when my shutter broke. My heart sank. I put my equipment away and got in my car and then realized the lightning had gotten dangerously close. So I was somehow relieved my shutter had broken or I might have been in trouble."

Lenz used a Canon 5D mark1 camera and a Sigma 150-500 lens to capture the magnificent scene.

"I set the camera on a tripod and aimed it towards the windmills where there was a high concentration of lightning strikes," he said. "I set it at F5, ISO 100 and left the shutter open for about 30 seconds at a time hoping to catch strikes." [See More Stunning Images of Lightning]