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No. 61: Jan-Feb 1989

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Expanding ball of light (ebl) phenomenon

Pale orange glow seen coming from behind a bank of towering cumulus clouds
X8. June 22, 1976. North Atlantic. "At 2113 GMT a pale orange glow was seen to be coming from behind a bank of towering cumulus to the west. At 2115 a ghostly white disc (see sketches) was observed at an approximate altitude of 10-degrees and bearing 290-degrees. The glow from behind the cloud persisted." The glowing region developed as indicated in the figure. Stars could be seen throught the disc at all times. By 2140 the disc had disappeared.
In the latest number of the Journal of Scientific Exploration, R.F. Haines presents a summary table of 15 cases of a luminous phenomenon he has dubbed the Expanding Ball of Light or EBL. EBLs are very large, sometimes occupying much of the sky. They seem to occur everywhere, though rarely. Haines elaborates:

"According to several pilot witnesses, the center of the EBL is at relatively high altitude while it is forming. Its color is evenly whitish or yellowish and becomes increasingly transparent to background stars as it expands. As it enlarges it appears to maintain a sharply defined edge. At some point it fades completely from sight. The rate of boundary interface expansion is impossible to determine without knowing its distance from the observer. It is also of interest to note that most EBL events have taken place after dark. If EBL phenomena are associated with an advanced weapons test, one wonders why it would be conducted (a) after dark, and (b) in so many different geographic areas."

(Haines, Richard F.; "Expanding Ball of Light (EBL) Phenomenon," Journal of Scientific Exploration, 2:83, 1988.)

Comment. In our Catalog volume Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, we describe many phenomena of the EBL type under GLA15. For a description of this volume, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #61, JAN-FEB 1989. 1989-2000 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