posted on Jul, 5 2008 @ 11:25 AM
Lightning traveling through open air emits white light, but can appear in different colors depending on local atmospheric conditions. Distant
lightning can appear red or orange the same way the setting sun does, due to moisture, haze, dust, etc in the lower levels of the atmosphere. Light
emitted by lightning has a similar visible spectrum as sunlight (white light), so the atmosphere should shift the colors of both the same way - given
there is enough distance between the lightning and the observer.
When lightning strikes an object or the ground, the lightning channel is often a deep red or orange color for its last ten feet or so above the ground
or the target object. Lightning striking a tree will appear a bright, fiery orange/red color for the length of the channel traveling down the tree.
Now these color differences due to natural conditions are minor and only apply to lightning striking things, or lightning in the distant horizon
during a sunset. I assume you mean actual red lightning bolts, like the ones in the below photograph:
In that case, it's just because the wrong white balance was used on the camera/film. When you are a photographer, it's hard to get the white balance
right when it's pitch black out and no light.
Here you have purple lightning, again, it's not the color of the lightning, the white balance is just set wrong on the camera/film.
[edit on 5-7-2008 by OrangeAlarmClock]