Home Page Science Frontiers

No. 75: May-Jun 1991

Issue Contents

Other pages

Other Interesting Sites











Unusual electrical (?) phenomena

November 24, 1975. Tendele Hutted Camp, Drakensberg Mountains, South Africa. The following observations were made during violent electrical storms.

"Around 10pm, WN observed a luminous vertical column in an easterly direction which appeared suddenly at a location low on the hillside on the far bank of the Tugela River at a distance of about 1km. This stationary light column seemed to have the dimensions of a pencil stub (approx. 50mm x approx. 7mm) held vertically at arm's length. The column, which had a bluish glow like a fluorescent tube, was visible for about 5 to 10 seconds.

"At 11.15pm, when the intensity of the storm had abated and the sky was lit intermittently with flashes of sheet lightning, the writer saw a luminous spherical object, seemingly of golf to tennis ball size, moving rapidly with an apparently vertical undulating motion from left (northeast) to right (southwest) on a horizontal course in the general direction of Mont-Aux-Sources (3282m) where the Tugela River has its origin. This sighting lasted 2 to 3 seconds. About 3 minutes later, another similar object crossed the field of view, following the same course as the first object and showing about 2 or 3 undulations in its passage. At midnight, a third object was seen having the same characteristics as the first two objects. However it did not arise from the extreme left of the field of view but appeared to originate from a point marked by a small tree close to and in the middle of the window. These objects had a bright yellowish-blue luminescence, and no noise was heard which could be associated with their passage."

(Neish, William J.P.; "Lightning Phenomena in the Drakensberg Mountains of Natal, RSA," Journal of Meteorology, U.K., 15:377, 1990.)

Reference. A wide spectrum of similar mysterious luminous phenomena are cataloged in categories GLB, GLD, and GLL in Lightning, Auroras. For ordering information, visit: here.

From Science Frontiers #75, MAY-JUN 1991. 1991-2000 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