I’ve always been fascinated by lightning: sudden, beautiful, ephemeral. Maybe for a similar reason, I’m fascinated by photography: a fleeting moment of light and form. Here, thanks to Time Science and Space, two of my obsessions are combined: incredible lightning captured in images.
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.