A Boogala, A Boogala!

No, this isn’t about the movie St. Elmo’s Fire.  This is a natural phenomenon.  Some people think that it is the same as ball lightning.  It isn’t though.  Ball lightning floats in the air like a soap bubble.  It has also been known to float right through a window and come down a chimney.  St. Elmo’s Fire always is attached to something.

Saint Eramus

A depiction of Saint Eramus

Saint Eramus

Where did the term, St. Elmo’s Fire, come from?  Elmo is short for Erasmus.  He was a bishop from Sicily, who lived around AD 300.  After becoming terminally ill during a storm at sea, Elmo promised the sailors that after he died, he would appear to them if their ship was going to be saved.

After a while, a light appeared at the mastheads.  The men survived and St. Elmo became the patron saint of sailors.

Good or Bad, Sailor Omens?

Depending on the sailors, some thought it was a good omen.  Some thought it to be a bad omen.  A few even thought it was sailors who died that wanted to be prayed for.

What is happening?  Well, a very smart man, Benjamin Franklin hypothesized that if you were to point a rod at the sky during a lightning storm, it would light up.  Just like St. Elmo’s Fire.  I know that is one experiment we will not be doing at home.

Sailors from 19th century standing on a ship

Sailors 1854

St. Elmo’s fire is different than lightning.  St. Elmo’s fire has about 1,000 volts per centimeter near a pointed object.  Whereas lightning has 10,000 volts per centimeter.  Some who have experienced it said that they can hear it and their hair stands on end.  It has not proved to be dangerous though, just eerie.

St. Elmo’s Fire is plasma.  It is also conductive and fluoresces with light.  Depending what kind of gases are in the air, determines the type of glow.  Our atmosphere has Nitrogen and Oxygen.  This mixture creates a blue/violet glow.  That is why with lightning and with the St. Elmo’s fire, they glow a blue/violet color.

I think it would be absolutely, amazing to experience these natural phenomena’s, just from a safe distance.

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