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No. 2: January 1978

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Another Indian Ocean Light Wheel

March 27, 1976. Position 10N., 101E.

"At 1917 GMT, C.J.A. Cladingbowl, the Second Officer of the s.s. Benattow saw pulsating parallel bands of light rushing toward the ship from 045T. After two to three minutes, the bands assumed a spoke formation with the center of rotation unseen but in the direction of 315T. The spokes were about 22 m in width, with 22 m between each spoke. Rotating clockwise, the spokes swept past the vessel at ever increasing speeds, reaching two spokes per second maximum. By 1925, the display had reverted to the parallel band form. Then, the bands changed into a counterclockwise rotating wheel. The performance ended when the display again reverted to parallel bands and faded out altogether. The light from the spokes was white to light green and its intensity increased with the speed of rotation."

(Cowie, R.E.; "Bioluminescence," Marine Observer, 47:17, 1977.)

Reference. Lightwheels and other weird forms of bioluminescence are cataloged in Chapter GLW of Lightning, Auroras. For details, see: here.

Ancient Indian Ocean light wheel
A = Locus of Center of spoke formation at beginning
B = Ship's course
C = Locus of center of spoke formation at end
D = Advancing bands of light
E = Direction of movement of spoke formation

From Science Frontiers #2, January 1978. 1978-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987