Ball Lightning: Eyewitness Accounts and Descriptions

In summary, the conversation is discussing the topic of ball lightning and whether it exists or not. Some people have claimed to have seen it, while others are skeptical. There are also some theories about what may cause ball lightning, such as plasma clouds created by microwave ovens.
  • #1
Ball Lightning!

Has anyone observed ball lightning (in close proximity) with their own eyes? Could you describe its behavior? What were your first thoughts? Thanks in advance.
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  • #2
Only as a Magic:The Gathering card from The Dark (just kidding..)

Seriously, though, no. I hope to hear some great stories about ball lightnings in this thread; it's a good topic.

Welcome to PF, BTW.
  • #3
Ditto about the welcome!

I haven't seen ball lightning, but I have observed ground lighting. That's is crazy stuff! I bet if you google for some pictures you'll find some. I'll see if I can come up with any.

While we're here...what causes lighting anyway?
  • #4
Well, I could start waving my hands and say that a huge difference of voltage is generated between the cloud and the ground, causing a massive current (i.e lightning ("ordinary", non-ball version, that is)) to be set up.
However, since I know next to nothing about the theme, I'll shut up, and wait for the actually knowledgeable to give you a good answer.
  • #5
While heating up diced carrots in my microwave oven I inadvertantly created a plasma cloud. Does that count?
  • #6
Look at this thread

Credible Anomalies Awaiting Proper Investigation
Scepticism and debunking.
  • #7
my aunt has, i think she said it wandered through the back door and flew through the house, then eventually fizzled out.

my mum's seen fork lightning right in front of her
  • #8
People regard this subject as fringe and make flippant remarks about it, but
it is a possible unknown physical effect, laugh if you wish or make jokes about
it, but you may be enlightened later.
  • #9
As you have probably deduced from Wolram's comments, there is some debate as to wether or not ball lightning even exists. No comfirmed reorts about it are available (depending on your definition of "confirmed", I suppose).

I thought I saw it once about 15 years ago in a field in Southern Michigan, but it's hard to say for sure. What I saw was a ground strike hitting in a field about a Killometer away. After the bolt ceased, there remained behind it two glowing orange balls, one directly above the other. The lower of these two objects was perhaps 2 or 3 meters above the ground, the upper one maybe 7 or 8 meters. They sat dead still for several seconds (about five or six, think), then faded out quickly and vanished.

I imediately started trying to explain tnhe event to myself. Possible explanation include;

-a pair of power lines, one directly above the other (but it's highly unlikely that two power lines struck by lightning would remain hovering and stationary, and the field in question has no power lines running through it).

-two tree branches (difficult to judge distances, because the event happened quite far away and at night, but it appeared to have happened far from the wooded area. Also, a later examination of the field's perimeter revealed no scorched trees)

-spots in my eyes because of the flash (two spots arranged vertically seems unlikely, as does the effect of the two remaining stationary in the field).

-airborn matter struck by the lightning (the spots held stationary, any airborn matter light enough to remain airborn for 5 or 6 seconds would have moved about in the high winds of the storm)
  • #10
See this site about the Microwave oven plasm cloud.

IT is one of many sites, and the phenomenon is commonly seen (but few know what just happened when sparks fly inside their microwave).

"Ball lightning" is suspected by several of these sites to be an example of such plasma clouds.

IF one was witnessed at night, I suspect that persistance of vision would cause the appearance of more "flying around" than actually occurs. My guess.
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1. What is ball lightning?

Ball lightning is a rare atmospheric phenomenon that appears as a glowing sphere of light, typically ranging from the size of a golf ball to that of a beach ball. It is usually seen during thunderstorms and can last anywhere from a few seconds to several minutes.

2. How is ball lightning formed?

The exact mechanism of ball lightning formation is still a mystery and continues to be a topic of scientific debate. Some theories suggest that it is a result of electrical discharge in the atmosphere, while others propose that it is a plasma-based phenomenon.

3. Can ball lightning cause harm?

There have been rare cases where people have reported being harmed by ball lightning, such as burns or shock. However, these reports are not scientifically confirmed. Generally, ball lightning is considered to be harmless as it usually dissipates without causing any damage.

4. What do eyewitnesses typically describe when observing ball lightning?

Eyewitnesses have described ball lightning as a glowing orb that moves erratically and silently through the air. It is often reported to have a range of colors, from white and yellow to red and blue. Some also claim to have seen it pass through solid objects or even split into smaller balls.

5. How can scientists study ball lightning?

Since ball lightning is a rare and unpredictable phenomenon, it is difficult for scientists to study it in controlled laboratory settings. However, they can analyze eyewitness accounts and conduct experiments to try and recreate the conditions that may lead to its formation. Additionally, advancements in technology have allowed for the recording and analysis of ball lightning sightings, providing valuable data for scientific research.

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