Anonymous
Anonymous asked in Society & CultureMythology & Folklore · 8 years ago

What is St. Elmo's Fire?

Not the movie, but the phenomenon and/or the myth, please.

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  • 8 years ago
    Best Answer

    St. Elmo's fire (also St. Elmo's light) is a weather phenomenon in which luminous plasma is created by a coronal discharge from a grounded object in an electric field in the atmosphere (such as those generated by thunderstorms created by a volcanic eruption)

    St. Elmo's fire is named after St. Erasmus of Formiae (also called St. Elmo, the Italian name for St. Erasmus), the patron saint of sailors. The phenomenon sometimes appeared on ships at sea during thunderstorms and was regarded by sailors with religious awe for its glowing ball of light, accounting for the name.

    Characteristics:

    Physically, St. Elmo's fire is a bright blue or violet glow, appearing like fire in some circumstances, from tall, sharply pointed structures such as lightning rods, masts, spires and chimneys, and on aircraft wings. St. Elmo's fire can also appear on leaves, grass, and even at the tips of cattle horns. Often accompanying the glow is a distinct hissing or buzzing sound. It is sometimes confused with ball lightning.

    In 1750, Michael Dedman hypothesized that a pointed iron rod would light up at the tip during a lightning storm, similar in appearance to St. Elmo's fire.

    Scientific explanation:

    St. Elmo's fire is a mixture of gas and plasma, as are flames in general and stars).The electric field around the object in question causes ionization of the air molecules, producing a faint glow easily visible in low-light conditions. Approximately 1000 volts per centimeter induces St. Elmo's fire; however, this number is greatly dependent on the geometry of the object in question. Sharp points tend to require lower voltage levels to produce the same result because electric fields are more concentrated in areas of high curvature, thus discharges are more intense at the end of pointed objects.

    Conditions that can generate St.Elmo's fire are present during thunderstorms, when high voltage is present between clouds and the ground underneath, electrically charged. Air molecules glow due to the effects of such voltage, producing St. Elmo's fire.

    The nitrogen and oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere causes St. Elmo's fire to fluoresce with blue or violet light; this is similar to the mechanism that causes neon lights to glow.

    Source(s): Google
  • 4 years ago

    St. Elmo's fire is, in fact, a mixture of gas and plasma (as are flames in general, and also stars). The electric field around the object in question causes ionization of the air molecules, producing a faint glow easily visible in low-light conditions. Approximately 1000 volts a centimeter induces St. Elmo's fire; however, this number is greatly dependent on the geometry of the object in question. Sharp points tend to require lower voltage levels to produce the same result because electric fields are more concentrated in areas of high curvature, thus discharges are more intense at the end of pointed objects. Conditions that can generate St.Elmo's fire are present during thunderstorms, when high voltage is present between clouds and the ground underneath, electrically charged. Air molecules glow due to the effects of such voltage, producing St. Elmo's fire. The nitrogen and oxygen in the Earth's atmosphere causes St. Elmo's fire to fluoresce with blue or violet light; this is similar to the mechanism that causes neon lights to glow. That's the technical answer from Wikipedia. From my understanding it is an electricly charged field of gas and plasma that is similar to lightning.

  • nosdda
    Lv 7
    8 years ago

    St Elmos fire happens when a ship is caught in a big storm, when Static electricity can occur very easily. In the ols days of sailing ships, very often there would be streaks of lightening "dancing " all over the mast heads of the ships. Despite this, none of the crew were harmed or the ship in any way.Th effect was like lightening Crackling, but only remained in the mast head of the ship. St. Elmo was the God of fire in Spanish, hence the name of this phenominum.

  • 8 years ago

    I think its described in the movie towards the end, isnt it?

    Source(s): Seen the movie a lot
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  • 8 years ago

    isnt it fire in the night sky...

    err maybe the aurora borealis

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