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Chilling atomic explosions emerge in rare HD video

A fascinating chapter in American atomic history comes alive with the availability of a rare video showing bomb tests.

This atomic test took place in 1955. Video screenshot by Amanda Kooser/CNET

Operation Teapot was the innocuous name given to a series of atomic tests that took place in Nevada in 1955. It involved 14 nuclear explosions.

A rare HD video of tests from Operation Teapot can now be seen online. A lot of nuclear footage from the '40s and '50s isn't of the greatest quality. This new video comes across with frightening clarity.

The video was published on YouTube on September 30 by Atom Central, a site dedicated to the history of atomic bombs. There is no sound, just the sight of bombs detonating. Sometimes you can see Joshua trees and people in the foreground, lending perspective to the scenes. Some explosions are at night, some during the day.

The video is only one and a half minutes long, but it leaves a strong impression. The initial flashes are blinding before the mushroom clouds fade into the dark. Even seen from afar, the potential for devastation is obvious.

The Teapot tests each had names such as "Moth," "Hornet" and "Tesla." Two of the explosions represented in the video are known as ESS (Effects Sub-Surface) and Bee.

Atom Central says the video is made from previously unreleased footage.