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Few saw it, but everyone's heard about it: What ball lightning really looks like

Few saw it, but everyone's heard about it: What ball lightning really looks like The question about the origin of ball lightning remains open (photo:

Ball lightning is a rare atmospheric phenomenon resembling a moving plasma ball, ranging in size from a few centimeters to several dozen centimeters. It typically appears during thunderstorms, lasting from a few seconds to several minutes.

RBC-Ukraine gathered some of the most interesting footage from the Internet, purportedly showing ball lightning.

What is known about ball lightning

Reports of ball lightning have been known for a long time. Some scientists claim the first official mention of ball lightning dates back to 1195.

In the first half of the 19th century, French physicist, astronomer, and naturalist François Arago collected and systematized all known accounts of ball lightning at that time. This work was likely the first compilation in this field of research and described 30 instances of ball lightning sightings.

Despite this, for a long time, researchers were inclined to consider ball lightning as an optical illusion or a phenomenon of an unclear, non-electrical nature.

A study commissioned by the US Atomic Energy Commission in the 1960s revealed that 5% of the world's population had seen ball lightning. Witnesses described them as light balls ranging in size from a golf ball to a soccer ball.

According to people's accounts, the color of ball lightning varied from red, orange, and yellow to white or even blue. Additionally, many observers noted a distinct sulfuric smell after it disappeared.

At the same time, scientists still cannot definitively explain the nature of this phenomenon. Despite the existence of about 200 different theories regarding the origin of ball lightning and its life, none have gained absolute recognition in the academic community.

In laboratory conditions, similar but short-lived phenomena have been recreated in several different ways, but the question of the origin of natural ball lightning remains open.

What ball lightning might look like

Among the video materials published online, finding images of ball lightning is challenging. Below we offer a selection of footage that allegedly shows ball lightning.

Sources: BBC, Encyclopedia Britannica, Wikipedia.