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Stargazing Lightning ball - please help me to analyze this rare video

  1. Jul 3, 2017 #21
    The only scientific analysis of ball lightning that I found was a chance encounter with it in China where they managed to do a spectral analysis. In that case, the ball lightning seemed to be a result of a regular lightning bolt vaporizing silicon. Or they could have faked the whole thing, I literally see one single scientific paper on it.

    It looks to me like whatever is shown in this video is disjoint from the lightning behind it. The lightning seems to be about 4000 feet away from the camera (there is a big flash at 0:04 and the corresponding thunder at 0:08), where the trees like like a few hundred feet at the most.

    I think it may also be a bug. Fireflies like the time right before a thunderstorm and are often out at dusk.
     
  2. Jul 3, 2017 #22
    I tend to agree with stefan r. I think the light is behind the trees. As it enters the trees, the light takes on a green tint then dims considerably. This would be expected if the light is passing through the foliage of the trees. Also, something that no one has mentioned, just before the ball of light appears to exit the cloud there is a weak flash of lightning from within the cloud itself, appearing as if the ball of light was ejected from that initial flash.
     
  3. Jul 3, 2017 #23

    davenn

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    and as a rule nor does ball lightning
    All the reports I have ever see has it wandering all over the place
     
  4. Jul 3, 2017 #24

    russ_watters

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    Really? Seems to me they all do that over a short distance!
     
  5. Jul 3, 2017 #25

    russ_watters

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    My skepticism comes from the fact that it doesn't look or behave like ball lightning is supposed to. So I can think of several things it could be that are more consistent with how it looks.
     
  6. Jul 3, 2017 #26

    davenn

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    yup agreed ! as I commented, ball lightning usually wanders around like a drunkard ... well so the few and far between reports go :wink: :rolleyes:

    I'm starting to not like my bug idea tho, after looking at the video frame by frame, it seems just too bright for something lit up only by streetlights and may well be disappearing behind those trees. If so, this means that it isn't a bug close to the camera giving the impression of high speed
    Still don't like the ball lightning tho for the reasons @russ_watters and I have previously stated.

    As Spock would say "fascinating " !!


    Dave
     
  7. Jul 3, 2017 #27
    I agree. But that still doesn't rule out lightning phenomena . If this is fake then hats off to the person who created it. Well done. It's actually the color change and dimming effect when it goes behind the trees that make me think this could be legitimate.
     
  8. Jul 4, 2017 #28

    davenn

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    "putting my stormchaser hat on for a moment" I really think it is way too far from the storm to be lightning related
     
  9. Jul 4, 2017 #29
    I wanted to come back into the thread briefly, mostly to follow through on the promise that I had made to post any web search hits I found on ball lightning that seemed credible, whether they were positive or negative. To me, the most interesting aspect of this sort of thread isn't trying to judge a shadowy bit of data with absolute rigor; it's more the chance to learn something new - that is, to exercise curiosity about the background subject.

    I will say that I don't think conjecture on this thread by the likes of us will ever resolve the video in question. The bug theories still seem to me to fall drastically short; I have already posted one video showing fireflies don't look anything remotely like the moving image in the video; this is what my memories from childhood on tell me about fireflies anyway. But sure, a bug is at least possible. I think we'd all agree ball lightning is unlikely, not least given its extreme rarity to begin with. Other possibilities are something else electrical in nature, whether or not related to the lightning storm, e.g. an arc or other discharge from a power line not visible in the video (although it doesn't look like flashover to me) - more info about power lines and lightning storms here and here with a cool video here; a glitch in the recording; a fake; etc. It would be interesting if the person who recorded the video could be interviewed not only for credibility but his subjective impression of the event. But short of that, there seems too little information in the video for most of us. I wonder if someone extremely conversant with both night-time video & storm/power grid phenomena (e.g. an actual storm chaser) might be able to make a better guess?

    Getting back to the web search I did, I didn't find any claims that ball lightning is merely folklore; it seems to be taken seriously. Below are the better quality hits I found, leaving out some which seemed redundant. They are restricted to relatively recent dates & are either studies or articles based on studies; listed by date going forward. If you just want a quick read that describes the field, the 2012 article by Lowke ("Ball lightning exists . . . but what on Earth is it?") is your ticket - 4th link down.

    Toward a theory of ball lightning, J. J. Lowke, M. A. Uman, R. W. Liebermann - 1969 study, Journal of Geophysical Research

    On the energy characteristics of ball lightning, A. V. Bychkov, V. L. Bychkov, John Abrahamson - 2002 study, The Royal Society

    Birth of ball lightning, J. J. Lowke, D. Smith, K. E. Nelson, R. W. Crompton, A. B. Murphy - 2012 study, Journal of Geophysical Research

    Ball lightning exists … but what on Earth is it?, J. J. Lowke - 2012 article on the above 2012 study & also the above 1969 study, The Conversation

    Further Insight into the Nature of Ball-Lightning-Like Atmospheric Pressure Plasmoids, David M. Friday, Peter B. Broughton, Tanner A. Lee, Garrett A. Schutz, Jeremiah N. Betz, and C. Michael Lindsay, - 2013 study, J. Phys. Chem.

    Observation of the Optical and Spectral Characteristics of Ball Lightning, Jianyong Cen, Ping Yuan, and Simin Xue - 2014 study, Phys. Rev. Letters (this is the study mentioned by @newjerseyrunner in his comment #21)

    Focus: First Spectrum of Ball Lightning - 2014 article on the above study, Physics (physics.aps.org)
    January 17, 2014

    Relativistic-microwave theory of ball lightning, H.-C. Wu - 2016 study, Scientific Reports 6
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2017
  10. Jul 4, 2017 #30

    Orodruin

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    This has been my entire point. Even if ball lightning looked exactly like that, and it has been pointed out already in this thread that it probably doesn't, its extreme rarity makes a more mundane phenomenon much more likely, even if such a mundane phenomenon would be rather unlikely to produce the effect. Indeed the video is not good enough to make a definite conclusion and the object (if not CGI) is a UFO in the literal sense.
     
  11. Jul 4, 2017 #31
    An old friend of mine told me he saw a ball lightning going through the train rails once under a big storm, and it melted the rails before disappearing. He was a blacksmith and worked repairing trains for many years (a really good one). He said that the storm shake the roof of the shed he worked at, and the dust fell. Then he saw it (according to his story). He was an old man, 74 years old. Passed away a few years ago. A very good friend, but some time he had some delirious anecdotical stories, like his sister levitating while dancing and things like that, so I can't say how reliable his story was. Anyway, I thought it could be some astmospherical phenomena.
     
  12. Jul 4, 2017 #32
    I have seen ball lightning. It was many years ago and I was coming out of my grade-school graduation, at night, in a very small town in Southern Illinois. There was a large intense thunderstorm with a great deal of lightning, quite close, to the North of us. Suddenly, against the very dark clouds, there appeared two incandescent round images. They proceeded to "squirm" across the dark sky in front of the clouds. They must have been quite large, like 1/2 the area of a dime held at arms length. Lasted maybe 3 seconds and as they made their way the "upper" and lower edges of the balls left a short incandescent track trailing back from both edges. When I say squirmed I mean that that they followed an irregular wiggling path. At least from that distance (maybe a few miles) they seemed to be traveling slowly and only angled a few degrees.

    I have seen a lot of lightning and storms since then, but never ball lightning again.
    DC
     
  13. Jul 4, 2017 #33
    Ordinary explanation. I captured a loop of the video from some frames before the object appeared to a few frames afterwards. Go all the way to the top of the clouds above the yellowish building, to that sort of slanted 'V' in the top of the clouds. On the right (more horizontal) leg of the 'V' there's a small notch in the clouds, about 1/4 of the way up from the point of the 'v'

    If you look, there's a dark streak that appears to be an insect moving downwards just before the light streak appears, and in pretty much the same direction and velocity.

    My internet connection is currently too crappy to post an annotated pic or the video, I can post it tomorrow if anyone needs it but for now just loop over the section from about 7 or 8 frames before the light appears

    Combined with the fact that there is no reaction from the guy filming, it seems like it could be just glare off an insect flying into a beam of light. The light seems too pure white and to switch on far too fast to be a firefly. The light of the ball does not illuminate the clouds it appears to come from. External illumination would explain an object rapidly going from dark to full brightness.

    It's just a bug.
     
  14. Jul 4, 2017 #34

    jim mcnamara

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    Thread closed - the solution seems to be a bug. Let's leave it there.
     
  15. Aug 2, 2017 #35

    jim mcnamara

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    Reopened, some kind of new information is available. However, bickering over whose speculation is wrong or right will definitely close the thread again. IMO, this thread has been an example of why PF is all about discussing peer reviewed Science.
     
  16. Aug 2, 2017 #36
  17. Aug 2, 2017 #37
    Hi everyone!

    Thank you Jim for reopening the thread. It was just before my vacation when started the thread. After returned to home, it was already closed. Now I am waiting for someone who asked me to reopen the thread. He wanted to share additional material / explanation.

    And of course, big thank you for all who replied with their thoughts. Sure, I agree - a bug flying in front of some light or a firefly is the most probable explanation. Especially that the video was recorded on July 16 - it is fireflies activity time.

    That was my first thought. However, would anyone react saying "wow" after seeing usual bug? Why the girl behind is asking him "are you all right"? Did she also seen this? Or is it a coincident? If she really seen this, it must be much further from the camera.

    On the other hand, if you volume up the video, you will hear a three strikes at the same time. Again, if they are somehow correlated, the event must happened very close.

    That is why I was so curious about this video. For now, no better and yet rational explanation but a bug (or firefly).

    Cheers,
    Toreno
     
  18. Aug 2, 2017 #38

    Orodruin

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    The discussion is not about whether or not the phenomenon exists or not. The question is if the particular video in the OP shows the phenomenon or not - the answer to which should be "inconclusive".
     
  19. Oct 22, 2017 #39
    once i wife and friend were sitting in kitchen middle of equipment yard lighting hit 80 foot crane then came out of toaster as a red/gold orb and left the house by opening the screen door 15 ft away.
     
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