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No. 81: May-Jun 1992

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Four Luminous Spinning Vortices

July 21, 1991. The following observations were made by D. and E. Haines, about 11 PM, after they had just passed through the village of Hill Deverill, Wiltshire, England:

"We saw what looked like the reflection of the moon from the driver's window (i.e. we were looking in a westerly to south-westerly direction), and, as we travelled on, it then looked like four beams of a high-powered torch, but, as we went still further and were more or less alongside, we could see it was in fact four swirling shapes, shining white (not very bright, but bright against the night sky). We turned off the car engine and could hear a whooshing noise (like a car a distance away, going fast on a motorway -- but the sound did not come any closer). The national grid reference was ST 866392 approximately.

"These four spinning shapes (like the top of a cotton bud -- not dense and solid) went round and round in a clockwise direction. They came together in the middle, out and round and round. They did this several times (once, one went off to the right but came back into 'formation'), and then they came back together and just disappeared."

(Haines, David, and Haines, Elaine; "An Observation of Four Luminous Spinning Vortices, 21 July 1991," Journal of Meteorology, U.K., 17:24, 1992.)

Comment. Could the controversial crop circles, common in Wiltshire, be related to these luminous objects, or are they all hoaxes?

From Science Frontiers #81, MAY-JUN 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