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No. 38: Mar-Apr 1985

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Ball Lightning And Blue Flashes

May 31, 1982. Wakefield, England.

Kitchen: Blue flashes from a white cellar
Kitchen: Blue flashes from a white cellar
"We live to the south of Wakefield on the ground floor of a large Victorian house with high ceilings, attics and cellars. Our kitchen and living room face roughly S.S.W. In the late afternoon, a very heavy thunderstorm erupted with torrential rain, and thunderclaps and forked lightning occurring not quite, but almost, simultaneously. Towards the end of the storm, about 5.30 P.M., I was in the kitchen and my mother in the living room, both facing the windows. There was a very loud peal of thunder and a loud crack, rather like the little explosion of a Christmas cracker greatly magnified. I was at the sink, close to the window, on the ledge of which stands an electric Corvette water heater, plugged in but not switched on. Beside me, about four feet from the ground and two feet to the left of me, at the moment of the crack, there appeared for a second or so, electric blue flashes, six to eighteen inches in length coming from a white centre. I felt nothing, but was startled. There was no damage to the water heater or anything else. Just as I exclaimed at the blue flashes, I heard my mother cry out and ran to her in the living room. She was sitting in a chair about ten feet from the window, under which stands the television set, plugged in but not switched on. About eight feet from the floor and four feet in front of the double-glazed window (i.e. between the television and the fireplace, but not quite over or opposite either), appeared an orange fireball, rather smaller than a football, with straight lines of orange light, varying from about one to two feet in length coming from it in all directions. This ball seemed to hover for up to five seconds before disappearing. I did not see it myself. My mother quickly recovered from the shock and there was no damage in the room."

(Gilbey, J.C.M.; "Orange-Coloured Ball Lightning.....," Journal of Meteorology, U.K., 9:245, 1984.)

Living room: orange fireball with orange rays Living room: orange fireball with orange rays

From Science Frontiers #38, MAR-APR 1985. 1985-2000 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