Ball Lightning
Atmospheric Electrical Phenomenon of which Little is Known



 
Ball Lightning
Atmospheric Electrical Phenomenon of which Little is Known

 
Ball lightning is a rare form of lightning in the shape of a glowing red ball, associated with thunderstorms and sometimes accompanied by a loud noise. Ball lightning is thought to consist of ionized gas.

Until recently, ball lightning was often regarded as a fantasy or a hoax, but some serious scientific discussions and theories have attempted to explain it.

This is a rare Natural Weather Phenomenon called Ball Lightning. This video was taken in the Mountains about 15 to 20 Miles west of Boulder Colorado while some friends and I were camping at a mountain party, we are next to a fire so there are bits from the fire going in front of the camera.


Ball lightning is a hypothetical atmospheric electrical phenomenon, of which little is known. The term refers to reports of luminous, usually spherical objects which vary from pea-sized to several metres in diameter.

It is usually associated with thunderstorms, but lasts considerably longer than the split-second flash of a lightning bolt.


Many of the early reports say that the ball eventually explodes, sometimes with fatal consequences, leaving behind the odor of sulfur.

There are records of free-floating glowing balls that occur in total absence of thunderclouds. This occurs commonly in the valley of Hessdalen, Norway.

One recent theory suggests that these light balls (Hessdalen Lights) are produced by the ionization of air and dust by alpha particles during radon decay in the dusty atmosphere.

Laboratory experiments have produced effects that are visually similar to reports of ball lightning, but it is presently unknown whether these are actually related to any naturally occurring phenomenon.

Scientific data on natural ball lightning are scarce owing to its infrequency and unpredictability. The presumption of its existence is based on reported public sightings, and has therefore produced somewhat inconsistent findings.


Given inconsistencies and the lack of reliable data, the true nature of ball lightning is still unknown. Until recently, ball lightning was often regarded as a fantasy or a hoax, but some serious scientific discussions and theories have attempted to explain it.

Descriptions of ball lightning vary wildly.

It has been described as moving up and down, sideways or in unpredictable trajectories, hovering and moving with or against the wind; attracted to, unaffected by, or repelled from buildings, people, cars and other objects.

Some accounts describe it as moving through solid masses of wood or metal without effect, while others describe it as destructive and melting or burning those substances.

Its appearance has also been linked to power lines as well as during thunderstorms and also calm weather.


Ball lightning has been described as transparent, translucent, multicolored, evenly lit, radiating flames, filaments or sparks, with shapes that vary between spheres, ovals, tear-drops, rods, or disks. Ball lightning is often erroneously identified as St. Elmo's fire.

They are separate and distinct phenomena.


The balls have been reported to disperse in many different ways, such as suddenly vanishing, gradually dissipating, absorption into an object, "popping," exploding loudly, or even exploding with force, which is sometimes reported as damaging.

Accounts also vary on their alleged danger to humans, from lethal to harmless.


Scientists have long attempted to produce ball lightning in laboratory experiments. While some experiments have produced effects that are visually similar to reports of natural ball lightning, it has not yet been determined whether there is any relation.

Nikola Tesla was reportedly able to artificially produce 1.5" (3.8 cm) balls and conducted some demonstrations of his ability, but he was really interested in higher voltages and powers, and remote transmission of power, so the balls he made were just a curiosity.

The International Committee on Ball Lightning holds regular symposia on the subject, the most recent of which took place in Kaliningrad, Russia in 2008. A related group uses the generic name "Unconventional Plasmas".