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No. 54: Nov-Dec 1987

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Ball Lightning In Bavaria

August 2, 1921, Hohenschaftlern, Ba varia. 9:00 AM.

"The witness who reported the event was nine years of age at the time of the observation, and was indoors with her uncle on the first floor of a building during a severe morning thunderstorm with heavy rainfall. There was a lull in the storm and the ball lightning appeared on the left side of the window sill about 4-5 m from the observers. The window had been left open because there was a balcony above it which prevented the rain from entering the room.

"The ball fell to the floor where it jumped up and down once or twice. It then started to roll slowly towards the observers across the floor, at about the speed of a dropped ball of wool. Its diameter was about 20 cm, it was translucent, and the rapidly changing colours showed spots of light green, crimson, light blue and pale yellow. It was bright enough to be clearly visible in daylight, and it was uniformly bright over its entire surface. It had protrusions 'like the Andromeda nebula.'

"When it came near the table, where my uncle and I were sitting, I tried to get up to have a closer look. My uncle (fortunately) held me back. It then rolled towards the tiled stove on the right side of the room, crept up the iron parts of the stove leaving (in its path) a deep groove about the width and depth of a thumb, then it exploded in the (airvent) higher up, the sound was like that of a blown up paper bag when (burst) leaving a smell of ozone. The path of the ball was about 5-6 m in length, and it left no marks on the wooden floor."

(Stenhoff, Mark; "Torro Ball Lightning Division Report: April 1987," Journal of Meteorology, U.K., 12:200, 1987.)

From Science Frontiers #54, NOV-DEC 1987. 1987-2000 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