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No. 71: Sep-Oct 1990

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Ball Lightning Studies

The April 1990 issue of the Journal of Meteorology, some 63 pages of it, presents us with a wonderful compendium of ball lightning observations. It is un-fortunate that we have room for only a few of the many fascinating descriptions.

Giant ball lightning.

"The following display of ball lightning was observed by an officer at the coastguard station at Fishguard, Dyfed, West Wales, on 8 June 1977. The occurrence was at 0227 GMT, grid reference SM(12)895389.

"The ball lightning phenomenon was very large and estimated to be about the size of a bus. It was described as a brilliant, yellow green, transparent ball with a fuzzy outline which descended from the base of a towering cumulus over Garn Fawr Mountains and appeared to 'float' down the hillside. Intense light was emitted for about three seconds before flickering out. Severe static was heard on the radio. The object slowly rotated around a horizontal axis, and seemed to 'bounce' off projections on the ground. It was noticed that cattle and seabirds in the immediate vicinity became disturbed."

(Jones, Ian; "Giant Ball Lightning or Plasma Vortex," Journal of Meteorology, U.K., 15:178, 1990.)

Reference. Eighteen varieties of ball lightning are cataloged in section GLB in Lightning, Auroras. For more infor mation on this book, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #71, SEP-OCT 1990. 1990-2000 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