If you find lightning frightening, it’s probably worth staying away from Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela. This is the home of the Relámpago del Catatumbo, or everlasting storm. Although not technically everlasting, the area does experience around 1.2 million lightning strikes per year, possibly due to high winds or methane gas released from the waters below.
No, not the kind that light up your street at night. These natural light poles only occur in very cold cities and towns, where artificial light from the urban environment causes ice crystals to beam upwards, creating impressive vertical stripes in the night sky.
The Waitomo Caves in New Zealand are filled with luminous glowworms, which cling to the rocky walls in their thousands and light up their murky home. Guided boat tours show off the caves’ radiant residents, making them a popular tourist attraction.
Mix one of nature’s most explosive natural events with the electrical wrath of the gods, and you’re left with volcanic lightning. It occurs when lightning is produced inside a volcanic plume, adding extra drama to the already ferocious sight of billowing smoke and destructive lava.
No one really knows what causes the Hessdalen lights. It’s often seen in Norway, appearing as a white, yellow or red light that stands or floats above the ground. Science types reckon it might be ionised iron dust, while less logical folk attribute its existence to real life UFOs.
In places like the Maldives or Jamaica’s ‘luminous lagoon’, you might be lucky enough to spot thousands of tiny light dots illuminating the water and shorelines at night. The phenomenon is caused by bioluminescent plankton, which glow brightly when disturbed or agitated.
The most famous natural light show in the world, and for good reason: auroras are an unforgettable spectacle, lighting up the sky with a spectrum of colours that can include red, green, yellow, pink and blue. The northern lights (aurora borealis) and southern lights (aurora australis) are two of the best-known examples.
While we do agree that fireworks can be pretty cool, they’re nothing when compared to some of the natural light shows that can be spotted around the world. Everyone should aim to see at least one of these incredible phenomena in real life—if nothing else, they serve as a reminder of how cool our planet is, and how small we are in the grand architecture of the universe.