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Ball lightning facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts

Ball lightning is a glowing ball of lightning that sometimes appears in a thunderstorm, but usually lasts much longer than lightning. Scientists do not understand ball lightning very well, and some even do not think ball lightning is real, because it is so strange. However, it has been widely reported in weather journals by many trustworthy people. So, it is very possible that it is real.


Those who have seen it say it's the size of a grapefruit or basketball; it has even been said to be as big as a car. The glowing ball is either red, orange, or yellow. A few people have seen it falling from clouds. Sometimes, ball lightning floats or glides just above the ground for a few seconds, or it can roll on the surface of an object. Hissing noises come from the fiery orb. Some have even thought it was a UFO. Ball lightning sometimes explodes loudly, while other times it just quietly disappears. It has been known to smash or simply go through windows, hopping and sizzling across the floor, and then disappear into things like TVs or up the chimney. Some say that ball lightning can kill humans, while others say that its effect on humans are harmless.


Many people are said to have seen ball lightning. Ebenezer Cobham Brewer wrote about "globular lightning", saying they may fall to the ground or explode like a cannon. Laura Ingalls Wilder writes in her book about ball lightning, saying that when she was little, she saw balls of light, which her mother chased away with a broom.

Czar Nicholas II, Russia's last emperor, said he had seen ball lightning:

During the service there was a powerful thunderstorm, streaks of lightning flashed one after the other, and it seemed as if the peals of thunder would shake even the church and the whole world to its foundations. Suddenly it became quite dark, a blast of wind from the open door blew out the flame of the candles which were lit in front of the iconostasis, there was a long clap of thunder, louder than before, and I suddenly saw a fiery ball flying from the window straight towards the head of the Emperor. The ball (it was of lightning) whirled around the floor, then passed the chandelier and flew out through the door into the park. My heart froze, I glanced at my grandfather - his face was completely calm. He crossed himself just as calmly as he had when the fiery ball had flown near us, and I felt that it was unseemly and not courageous to be frightened as I was . . . After the ball had passed through the whole church, and suddenly gone out through the door, I again looked at my grandfather. A faint smile was on his face, and he nodded his head at me. My panic disappeared, and from that time I had no more fear of storms.

Czar Nicholas II

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See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Rayo globular para niños

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Ball lightning Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.