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No. 79: Jan-Feb 1992

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A LUMINOUS-TUBE PHENOMENON

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