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No. 104: Mar-Apr 1996

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The Petrozavodsk Phenomenon

We classify this remarkable phenomenon under ASTRONOMY because in several respects it parallels some meteoric phenomena, such as the famous February 9, 1913, bolide procession that amazed inhabitants of eastern North America. Unhappily, we only have room to quote one paragraph from a 10-page report.

"General outline of the phenomenon. At night, early on the 20th of September of 1977, over a vast area in the northwest of the European part of the USSR, unusual light phenomena in the atmosphere were observed, namely formation and motion of bright, luminous bodies surrounded by extended shells and emitting light rays or jets of quaint shapes. The shells transformed and diffused within 10 to 15 minutes. Besides, a more longlived, stable glow was observed, mostly in the northeastern part of the sky. These phenomena took place during disturbances of the geomagnetic field and the upper atmosphere. Somewhere, aurora borealis was seen."

(Gindilis, L.M., and Kolpakov, Yu.K.; "The Petrozavodsk Phenomenon," RIAP Bulletin, 2:3, April-September 1995. RIAP = Research Institute of Anomalous Phenomena, P.O. Box 4684, 310022 Kharkov-22, UKRAINE)

References. The 1913 meteor procession is described in AYO7 in our catalog: The Sun and Solar System Debris. Also see: SF#79. Details on our catalog here.

The Petrozavod phenomenon as seen near Lehta The Petrozavod phenomenon as seen near Lehta.

From Science Frontiers #104, MAR-APR 1996. 1996-2000 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