When we’re a little blue, or wondering where we’re heading, we find it helpful to look beyond our own small life and get a bigger picture. And the best way we know to do that is to look at either nature, or art, or both.

The person we know that combines these two transformative forces best is our friend Tom Ashcraft, recently profiled in the New York Times for his cutting edge work tracking sprites: wondrous, rather mysterious emanations of light that flash for an instant above thunderclouds. They can look like and are named for  jellyfish, carrots, angels, broccoli and mandrake root.

We became a fan of Tom’s mashup of science and art during several years when he lived in New York City. You can see some of his work from that time at Heliotown (we especially love Pollenetties).  Since moving back to New Mexico, the study of sprites has pulled him so strongly that he’s gained stature and fame for his ability to track and capture images of sprites from his “observatory” a shack with hacked and makeshift equipment to rival the most sophisticated laboratory.

Gabriella Marx for The New York Times
Gabriella Marx for The New York Times

We recommend listening to the Times’ podcast interview with Tom during your morning routine or drive to work. It will open your eyes to a whole world of possibilities going on around us.

We’ve written about various of Tom’s projects over the years. Click here to check some out.


Top gif: Sprites dancing over western Oklahoma June 9, 2014; bottom sprites over Colorado Aug. 4, 2014. The speed of this video has been slowed and looped to make the phenomena more visible. By Thomas Ashcraft


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2 replies on “Tom Ashcraft: Artist and Sprite Hunter

  1. When I read this post, I had just finished reading this article:

    Perhaps it’s too many cups of coffee, but I see a delightful connection between the two.

  2. Fantastic Ellen. Thank you. It got me research essential oils right away. Am going to write something about it. Truly amazing.

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