what is saint elmo's fire
The name is something of a misnomer, as … The whirling giant propellers had somehow become great luminous discs of blue flame. Tintin recognizes the phenomenon on Captain Haddock's ice-axe. Over the Edge of the World: Magellan's Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe. St. Elmo's fire is a form of plasma. Robert Burton wrote of St. Elmo's fire in his Anatomy of Melancholy: "Radzivilius, the Lithuanian duke, calls this apparition Sancti Germani sidus; and saith moreover that he saw the same after in a storm, as he was sailing, 1582, from Alexandria to Rhodes". We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic. http://www.sciam.com/article.cfm?id=000CB330-61BF-1C71-9EB7809EC588F2D7&topicID=13&catID=3, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Department of Commerce, Scientific American: "What causes the strange glow known as St. Elmo's Fire? (1996) "The optical spectrum of aircraft St. Elmo's fire", Geophys. On 20 February 1817,[note 1] during a severe electrical storm, James Braid, surgeon at Lord Hopetoun's mines at Leadhills, Lanarkshire, had an extraordinary experience whilst on horseback: On Thursday 20th, I was gratified for a few minutes with the luminous appearance described above [viz., "such flashes of lightning from the west, repeated every two or three minutes, sometimes at shorter intervals, as appeared to illumine the whole heavens"]. As, thanked be God, we had better weather after it".[20]. It hit number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on September 7, 1985, remaining there for two weeks. http://search.eb.com/eb/article-9064843, ­"What causes the strange glow known as St. Elmo's Fire? The Fire of St. Elmo. The horse's ears soon became wet and lost their luminous appearance; but the edges of my hat, being longer of getting wet, continued to give the luminous appearance somewhat longer. In the midst of the rushing waters it happened that, when there was a hurricane, suddenly a divine lantern was seen shining at the masthead, and as soon as that miraculous light appeared the danger was appeased, so that even in the peril of capsizing one felt reassured and that there was no cause for fear. For example, in Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), during a thunderstorm above the ramparts of the castle: "And what is that tapering of light you bear?" Saint Elmo’s fire, luminosity accompanying brushlike discharges of atmospheric electricity that sometimes appears as a faint light on the extremities of pointed objects such as church towers or the masts of ships during stormy weather, or along electric power lines. It was, I surmised, a surcharge of static electricity that had accumulated on the tips of the propellers and on the dielectric material in the plastic windows. Thunderstorms prevailed over central New England.[23]. [18], In 15th-century Ming China, Admiral Zheng He and his associates composed the Liujiagang and Changle inscriptions, the two epitaphs of the treasure voyages where they made a reference to St. Elmo's fire as a divine omen of Tianfei (天妃), the goddess of sailors and seafarers.[19]. It was described as coming down the stove pipe and rolling across the floor following Ma's knitting needles; it didn't burn the floor (pages 309-310). [32], On the American television series Rawhide, in a 1959 episode titled "Incident of the Blue Fire", cattle drovers on a stormy night see St. Elmo's Fire glowing on the horns of their steers, which the men regard as a deadly omen. I noticed a strange eerie light coming through the window high above in the Navigator's cabin and as I peered through the dark all around us I saw a startling phenomenon. A minute thereafter, by Heald's estimation, he first noticed a dim "blue flame" flickering along the backbone girder about one-quarter the length abaft the bow to the tail. However, one of the earliest direct references to St. Elmo's fire made in fiction can be found in Ludovico Ariosto's epic poem Orlando Furioso (1516).

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