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No. 4: July 1978

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Curious Patches Of Light On The Horizon

March 24, 1977. Aboard the m.v. Kinpurnie Castle. Captain M. Brackenbridge. Cape Town to Antwerp. Observers, the Master, Mr. C.A. Neave, 3rd Officer and Mr. T.J. Martel, Radio Officer.

"At 0855 GMT the look-out observed what appeared to be a searchlight shining downwards for about 10 seconds on a bearing of 300T and 20 above the horizon. This light was extinguished and was replaced by a luminescent patch of approximately one degree in diameter. A semi-circular area of over-all moderate luminosity formed about the luminescent patch. This took about three minutes to form and the dimensions are shown in the sketch.

Curious patches of light

When this had formed, another luminescent patch was also observed above the semicircular area and after a total period of seven minutes the phenomenon dispersed completely. Weather conditions were as follows: dry bulb 19.0C, wet bulb 17.0C, barometer reading 1016.7 mb, good visibility, no cloud. Position of ship: 23 05'N, 17 25'W."

(Brackenbridge, M.; "Unidentified Phenomenon," Marine Observer, 48:21, 1978.)

From Science Frontiers #4, July 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