Ball lightning is an unexplained electrical atmospheric phenomenon. It occurs very rarely, and so has escaped direct scientific observation. However, it has been very well documented in the sense that there have been thousands of consistent reports of the phenomenon, going all the way back to the time of the ancient Greeks. According to a survey conducted in 19601, Ball Lightning has been seen by 5% of the population on Earth.
Since the 1800’s, physicists and chemists have put forth many theories to explain this phenomenon, but so far none have proven successful in accounting for all the reported characteristics of Ball Lightning. Many of these documented general characteristics are based on the work of A. I. Grigoriev2, who analyzed more than 10,000 cases of Ball Lightning.
They are generally spherical or pear-shaped with fuzzy edges
They frequently appear almost simultaneously with cloud-to-ground lightning discharge.
Their diameters range from 1–100 cm, most commonly 10–20 cm
Their brightness corresponds to roughly that of a domestic lamp, so they can be seen clearly in daylight
A wide range of colors has been observed, red, orange and yellow being the most common.
The lifetime of each event is from 1 second to over a minute with the brightness remaining fairly constant during that time
They tend to move, most often in a horizontal direction at a few meters per second, but may also move vertically, remain stationary or wander erratically.
Many are described as having rotational motion
It is rare that observers report the sensation of heat, although in some cases the disappearance of the ball is accompanied by the liberation of heat
Some display an affinity for metal objects and may move along conductors such as wires or metal fences
Some appear within buildings passing through closed doors and windows
Some have appeared within metal aircraft and have entered and left without causing damage
The disappearance of a ball is generally rapid and may be either silent or explosive
Odors resembling ozone, burning sulfur, or nitrogen oxides are often reported