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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