Weird Phenomena

~ Three Bows ~ Ball Lightening ~ St. Elmo's Fire ~
~ Sainted Shadows ~ Strange Rains ~

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Three Bows
Rainbow:  To increase your chances of seeing a rainbow, stand facing receding rainclouds, with your back to the sun.  The higher you are, the more complete the rainbow will be.  It is possible to see the entire circle from an airplane.
Fogbow:  The fine water droplets of dense fog can create a colorless fogbow.  Because the fog itself is so near the land surface, the sun must be very low in the sky.  Thus very early morning and very late afternoon, when a heavy fogs is present, are the best times to chase fogbows.   Again, face the fog bank with the sun behind you.
Moonbow:  This phenomena is rare due to the necessity of perfect conditions aligning with a full moon.  Increase your chances of seeing a moonbow by getting up just before the full moon sets when rainclouds have just passed by.  This will take some studious awareness of the moon phase, moonset time, and the weather forecast, but it can be done. 
To see a chart of the full moons of 1999
once there, click the moon animation to return here
'About Rainbows'
~ a more detailed discussion of the phenomena
(this is an outside site)
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Ball Lightening

The existence of ball lightening has not been universally accepted in the scientific community.  There are, however, countless anecdotal accounts of the phenomena.  I first read of this occurrence when I was a child,  in a book that also described the Jersey Devil.  I've long ago forgotten the title of this book, but many of its subjects, including ball lightening, remain fascinating to me.

Ball lightening has been described as: 

  • between 1/2 inch to six feet in diameter
  • spherical or oval
  • white, red, yellow, green or blue
  • slow moving and / or lightening quick
  • silent, crackling, hissing
  • wandering or direct
  • most accounts tell of a loud explosion when the ball disappears
  • some accounts suggest that it bounces when it hits the ground
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St. Elmo's Fire

The term is familiar to most of us, but the phenomena itself is less well understood.  Simply stated, St. Elmo's Fire is an electrical charge that builds at the highest points of objects beneath a thunderhead.  It becomes visible as a crackling, pale blue glow in tree tops, tower tops, ship's masts, and airplane's wings.  Often considered a good omen, it has, however been blamed for starting the fire that destroyed the Hindenburg.  It is most often visible after the worst of a storm has passed. 
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Sainted Shadows

(holy shining)
In early morning, on dew covered, well manicured grass, stand with your back to the sun.  Your shadow should stretch out in front of you.  If conditions are right, you may see a halo of white light surrounding your shadow.
Brocken specter *"A ... phenomena frightened ... early mountaineers who reached the fog-shrouded peak called Brocken, in Germany's Hartz Mountains.  Frightened climbers returned from the mountain and told of a bizarre apparition they had seen climbing along with them near the peak.  The stories were quickly added to ancient legends of the Brocken peak of the Hartz Mountains as the place where witches gathered on Walpurgis Night, a legend Goethe used in the witches' sabbath scene in Faust."

The phenomena seems to be explained by the foggy conditions of the peak.  Apparently, the climber's own shadows were enlarged and cast upon clouds and fog banks.  The apparition can appear above, below or beside the climber.

Brocken bow Sometimes, the water droplets within the fog act as a prism and cause the phantom shadows to have a rainbow-like halo.
Glories A similar phenomena can be observed when you stand facing a low fog bank with the sun behind you.  A glory consists of colored bands around the head of your shadow, if the conditions are right.
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Strange Rains
The following table contains information gathered from the web and from the excellent book,
It's Raining Frogs and Fishes by Jerry Dennis.

'Don't ask me what I believe, cuz I don't rightly know.'

1968 Acapulco maggots
1954 Florida crayfish
1953 Algiers snails 
1947 Marksville, LA fish, 2-9"
1941 Yuma, AZ a clam 
(reported by The New York Post)
1931 Bordeaux, NY perch
1922 Hungary spiders
1901 Tiller's Ferry, SC little fish (perch, trout, cat, etc.)
1896 Baton Rouge, LA dead ducks, catbirds & woodpeckers
1894 Vicksburg, MS a hailstone containing a turtle
1893 Paderborn, Germany pond mussels
1882 Dubuque. IA a hailstone containing two live frogs
1877 Memphis, TN live snakes (closer examination revealed that this "rain" 
was actually worm lizards washed from a newly excavated 
roadbed by heavy rainfall.)
1870 Chester, PA snails
1867 Dublin, Ireland hazelnuts
1840 India grain
1830 Jelapur, India fish weighing up to six pounds
1824 New York City, NY small fish
1821 Scotland herring
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Much of the information on these pages was collected from
It's Raining Frogs and Fishes
by Jerry Dennis.
Unless otherwise noted, all direct quotes can be attributed to him.

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Spinning Globe found at MediaBuilder
(a public domain collection of web art)

Lightening photograph animation from