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No. 34: Jul-Aug 1984

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Low-level aurora?

June 10, 1982. Near Sturgis, Michigan. About 3:00 A.M., two young women were driving in a semi-rural area. Fog made visibility poor. It began to rain -- a brown jelly-like slime that smeared the windshield. A rotten-egg odor pervaded the area. The car engine stopped, and the two began to walk to find assistance. After 50 yards, they encountered millions of small rays of "lightning" flashing everywhere. They were 2-3 feet long and reached high into the sky. Looking back toward the car, they saw a reddish fluorescent glow with streams of light coming down from the sky to the glowing region. Grass and weeds along the roadside were standing straight up and glowing. Deep-red lines of light were seen dancing on the road. They returned to the car, and it felt hot to the touch! Soon, clouds moved in and the display was over.

The authors of this article personally investigated this event within a few days of its occurrence. They found the two witnesses obviously very shaken, but believe that the accounts are fresh and unadulterated.

Also pertinent is the fact that a large solar flare had just occurred, and intense auroral displays had been predicted. Also, the two women were apparently the only witnesses of this phenomenon.

(Swords, Michael D., and Curtis, Edward G.; "Atmospheric Light Show," Pursuit, 16:116, 1983.)

Comment. The article also contains the authors' analysis in some depth. Basically, they thought the phenomenon to be auroral with coincidental rainfall containing organic debris.

Reference. Many other low-level auroras are described in GLA4 in Lightning, Auroras. This Catalog is described here.

From Science Frontiers #34, JUL-AUG 1984. 1984-2000 William R. Corliss