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No. 91: Jan-Feb 1994

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Post-lightning glows

The following observation was recently posted on a computer bulletin board by Rodney Jones. The printout was submitted to Science Frontiers by Mike Epstein.

"We were in the deep French countryside a few weeks ago, and during our stay, we had two spectacular thunderstorms. One lasting three hours and one lasting six hours.

"One of the attributes of this particular area (halfway between Cahors and Agen) is the dark night skies -- right down to the horizon (I saw constellations low in the southern sky that I'd only seen on star charts).

"On the occasion of the six-hour storm (which started about eight thirty in the evening), whenever the rain abated, we went outside and watched.

"During a total of approximately 1 hour of watching, I observed phenomena I had never (consciously) seen before. Following ground strikes (probably over the horizon), on at least eight occasions, the ground end of the strike (i.e., on the horizon) would be glowing for anything up to thirty seconds.

"On one particular occasion, my brother was recording the proceedings with a camcorder. I saw a big ground strike followed by a glow on the horizon. I was trying to direct him to that spot, when there was another ground strike 5-10 degrees to the right of the glow; then, maybe a second later, the original glow erupted into a brilliant point of white light that lit up the sky.

"I was gratified to find that we had this captured on video, although the glow from the first strike can't really be seen.

"Does anyone know what we were seeing here? Has anyone seen either of these phenomena close at hand?"

From Science Frontiers #91, JAN-FEB 1994. 1994-2000 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