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No. 120: Nov-Dec 1998

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Bouncing Ball Lightning

Autumn 1940, Berwyn Mountains, North Wales. The percipient in this unusual ball lightning sighting was a Mr. H, who was schoolmaster at Sandyhurst College.

"While out walking he was caught in a violent thunderstorm on the side of a hill with a scooped valley below. Ahead of him perhaps 300 feet distant, a bolt of lightning struck a tree with a sharp explosion of noise. Almost immediately a sphere six inches in diameter appeared from the direction of the strike and began to bounce across the ground towards him like a rubber ball. Climbing the hill under its own energy, the object rolled in a parabolic path and hit the ground every ten or twenty feet, climbing up to about three feet in height with each 'rebound'. Every time it hit the ground there was no sound, but a puff of greyish smoke or vapor was emitted. The object got to within about 50 feet of Mr. H before it suddenly vanished. This allowed him to have a good look at it at close proximity. He says that it was completely round and was a smokey-grey colour."

(Anonymous; "Ball Lightning in Lancashire and North Wales," Journal of Meteorology, U.K., 23:139, 1998.)

From Science Frontiers #120, NOV-DEC 1998. 1998-2000 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