Residents of Chelyabinsk, Russia – yes, that Chelyabinsk – were reportedly terrified last week by what appeared to be a massive, glowing eye in the sky above their city which, in today’s political climate, naturally drew comparisons with the all-seeing Eye of Providence and the Eye of Sauron. The cause of that bizarre sight is still undetermined, as only a single video of the incident appears to have been captured.
Whatever the source of that eye was, it might be the same as another occurrence of the ol’ giant-eye-in-the-sky that was just photographed in the Czech Republic. The glowing red eye appeared in the sky above a powerful thunderstorm according to amateur astronomer Martin Popek who caught the phenomenon on film.
According to SpaceWeather.com, the “eye” was most likely a case of strange (and awesomely-named) electromagnetic disturbances in the atmosphere known as ELVES (Emissions of Light and Very Low Frequency Perturbations due to Electromagnetic Pulse Sources):
First seen by cameras on the space shuttle in 1990, ELVES appear when a pulse of electromagnetic radiation from cloud-to-ground lightning propagates up toward space and hits the base of Earth’s ionosphere. A faint ring of deep-red light marks the broad ‘spot’ where the EMP hits.
ELVES belong to a group of rare phenomena known as transient luminous events (TLEs) which include atmospheric lightning, blue jets, and sprites. ELVES are commonly accompanied by other TLEs, and sure enough, Popek caught a rare red sprite on film shortly after photographing the ‘eye.’
ELVES typically only last up to a millisecond, making them incredibly difficult to document on film; for that reason, ELVES remain some of the most mysterious meteorological events on Earth. Since they happen so fast, they are imperceptible to the human eye, making capturing them in a photograph even more remarkable. It really makes you wonder what ancient civilizations thought about these types of luminous atmospheric disturbances before the advent of modern science and technology. It’s no stretch to assume that many ancient religious and spiritual beliefs were likely influenced by strange lights in the sky for which people had no other explanation at the time. Are we really any different today?