There is no other atmospheric phenomenon which has been entwined by so many legends and that is so full of secrets as the ball lightning. But thousands of eye witnesses cannot lie: Ball lightnings are a really existing phenomenon in the atmosphere.
Despite of this their existence has always been doubted. The phenomenon was explained by the fact that a person can get blinded by a lightninq and then sees a bright spot of light as an afterglow that follows the movement of the eye. But meanwhile Japanese scientists succeeded in generating artificial plasma balls in their laboratory which look very similar to ball lightnings. Thus ball lightning observation reports have become more believable.
Unfortunately there are very few photographs of ball lightnings. And. the few ones which are existing are of just a little testimonial power. So it is very important to gather observation reports in order to unveil the secret of this phenomenon.
Most ball lightnings have a diameter of about 20cm. They can shine in very different colours. There have been reported green, blue, red and yellow ones. In most cases they have a reddish colour. Their time of visibility is also very different Often the phenomenon lasts between 2 and 8 seconds. In rare cases, a ball lightning can exist for about 30 seconds. Often the ball disappears with a loud bang. Ball lightnings are also reported to be able to pass through walls and windows without causing any damage. The ball can float in the air or roll over the ground. In most cases it moves very slowly (2-3m/s). Ball lightnings almost always appear near thunderstorms. Without any doubt, it is a very rare phenomenon. But despite of this there is a good chance for a careful observer of nature to encounter a ball lightning once in his lifetime. They do not seem to be very dangerous. In one case the ball was wiped away with the naked hand without causing any injuries.
We are very interested in reports on ball lightning observations. If you have ever seen a ball lightning, you should fill in Sven Näther's questionnaire on ball lightnings ( german). The questionnaire is also available on our internet homepage as a Word-document together with some information.