Nothing more romantic than a discharge of energy that allows the atmosphere to restore electrostatic balance, lightning nonetheless thrills us, frightens us and holds us spellbound. As the National Weather Service draws our attention to this powerful phenomenon, TIME’s photo editors offer a selection of stunning images showcasing a powerful force that kills around 50 people in the US each year.
More Photography from Time
- Window on Infinity: From Saturn to Mars to Deep Space to Home
- Window on Infinity: Winter Pictures from Icy Space
- Breathaking Panoramas and Mosaics From Opportunity’s Decade on Mars
- Space Photos: 45-Year-Old Footprints, and More
- Window on Infinity: A New Year’s Photo Album From Space
- Earthrise on Christmas Eve: The Picture That Changed the World