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No. 79: Jan-Feb 1992

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Night of July 11-12, 1991, near Alton Barnes, Wiltshire, England. Three individuals were monitoring nearby fields for crop-circle phenomena. Instead, they observed a strange, but possibly related, luminous mass. R.L Goold described it in the following words:

"Suddenly, at 2.55 a.m., birds began singing which heightened our alertness and made us check wrist watches. It was soon quiet again, but at 3.00 a.m., almost exactly, I spotted a tube of light to the northeast descending vertically beneath a cloud in that part of the sky. Most of the remainder of the sky was clear and starry. The tube extended steadily in length as we watched, and its milky-white colour seemed to be due to a self-luminoscity like one might expect from the electrical effect known as plasma. As it came down against the black sky and neared the ground, the tube began to broaden, and branched out to give two opposed arms, as indicated in the drawing, forming a design in the air with rounded ends. Then the tube dissipated from the top downwards, and disappeared into the horizontal arms which themselves proceeded towards the ground out of sight beyond the hill peaks. No noise was heard. The whole phenomenon lasted about six seconds."

The trio of observers used their fingers held at arm's length to estimate angular dimensions of the phenomenon. Using these figures and the known distances of the surrounding hills, G.T. Meaden estimated the distance of the phenomenon at 1,400 meters; the width of the tube at l6 meters; and the width of the entire luminous mass at roughly 100 meters. (Goold, Rita L.; "Observation of a Luminous-Tube Phenomenon at Alton Barnes, 12 July 1991," Journal of Meteorology, U.K., 16:274, 1991.)

From Science Frontiers #79, JAN-FEB 1992. 1992-2000 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