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No. 21: May-Jun 1982

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Anomalous Sky Flash

December 28, 1980. In the South At antic.

"At approximately 2245 GMT on a moonless night the entire ship and immediate surrounding area were illuminated by what can be best described as a great camera flash. The flash was bluish-white and a small bolt of lightning appeared to be centered just above the vessel's samson posts. No noise was heard and the flash lasted only a second. The sky was clear at the time and stars of all magnitudes were clearly visible. The only clouds that could be seen were two or three small cumulus clouds; one of these was above the vessel and the others were moving towards us from the south, our course being l42(T) and the wind being S'E, force 3. The cloud above the vessel was at a height of about 600 feet."

(Rutherford, N.W.C.; "Unidentified Phenomena," Marine Observer, 51:186, 1981.)

Comment. This was obviously not ordi nary lightning, but the small cloud and small bolt of lightning indicate some sort of anomalous electrical discharge. The literature contains many other reports of bright sky flashes that cannot be attributed to meteors, heat lightning, or other sources.

Reference. Entry GLA14 in Lightning, Auroras contains additional examples of all-sky flashes. This Catalog volume is described here.

From Science Frontiers #21, MAY-JUN 1982. 1982-2000 William R. Corliss