This massive Saturnian thunderbolt was so bright it was visible from space. In broad daylight.

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It's not every day you witness a thunderstorm from space, let alone one on another planet, but the thunderstorm pictured here is an even rarer sight to behold.

For one thing, these images, captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft, were photographed from a distance of over two million miles (space footage of lightning on Earth, by comparison, is typically shot from just 220 miles above the planet's surface); but what makes this photo even more impressive is that the lightning you see is flashing against the backdrop of a fully illumined planet; this colossal storm was visible from space even in broad daylight.

"We didn't think we'd see lighting on Saturn's day side — only its night side," said Ulyana Dyudina, a Cassini imaging team associate at the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena, in a statement. "The fact that Cassini was able to detect the lightning means that it was very intense."


Intense, extreme, extraordinary, call it what you will — Saturn is a planet that likes to do things on a grand scale. This particular thunderstorm, for example, emerged out of a much larger storm (big enough to swallow up our entire planet with ease) that wrapped its way around Saturn's northern hemisphere for much of 2011.

Read more at CICLOPS.