What is ball lightning and how often does it happen?

There are many stories about this phenomenon, but what exactly is ball lightning? We will explain in a child-friendly way whether this form of lightning exists.

Kids Question: What is ball lightning?

In the sky draws the strong Thunderstorm up, it doesn’t take long to hear the first one Donner. After a while, lightning flashes in the sky. Eyewitnesses who have seen ball lightning describe it as follows Fireball of different colors. The colored balls can be up to 20 centimeters in size and stay in the air for several minutes. To this day, scientists do not agree whether ball lightning really exists or whether it is a hallucination. This means that our brain is showing an image that does not exist. Therefore, scientists apply different approaches to the origin of this natural phenomenon. We will present the two most famous ones in more detail in the next section.

Learn more: Is ball lightning rare?

Ball lightning is much rarer than normal flashesthat you know from thunder. But in recent years, more and more people have reported seeing this type of lightning. In 2012, scientists also accidentally managed to photograph ball lightning. From this, scientists around the world are trying to figure out how ball lightning can occur.

  • 1. Theory about Uni Innsbruck: Our brain produces ball lightning as a hallucination. Triggers are electromagnetic fields around lightning. This creates an image of a glowing ball in our brain.

  • 2. Chinese University Lanzhoueinen Theory: In 2012, scientists from this university accidentally managed to capture ball lightning with a camera and even capture its nature with a special device. They discovered that this ball of light is made up of materials found in the earth – silicon, iron and calcium. Lightning researchers suspect that a lightning strike releases individual ions from the ground, which then take on a circular shape. The orbs glow due to the electromagnetic forces of the lightning strike.

But besides that, there is further physical and mythical explanations for the formation of ball lightning. Scientists are also conducting laboratory tests again and again, but so far there is no proven answer to the origin of this phenomenon. But that doesn’t make them any less dangerous. You should do the same for ball lightning Precautions as in a thunderstorm.


Ball lightning looks like colorful balls of fire. In addition to the large number of people observing such phenomena, scientists have also managed to create an image of them. Their origin still raises endless questions and lightning scientists around the world are working on this topic. Do you really know if Television in a thunderstorm must turn off and do you thunderstorm rain May?

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