Explaining The Cause Of St. Elmo’s Fire

For many, the answer to the questions below is very easy. But for some, they might answer it as a movie title during the 80's. This article will briefly explain what is a St. Elmo's Fire.

Have you seen a St. Elmo’s fire lately? Or do even know what St. Elmo Fire is? If you’ve answered “no” in the second question, or you know that it’s a movie by Michael J. Fox somewhere in the 80’s, then it’s not too late to learn new knowledge about it.

For start, St. Elmo’s fire in a phenomenon that is naturally occurs in nature. It’s not actually a fire but rather the flash or the glow of light that occurs during a lightning strike. But how was this flash of light occurs in nature? Nature had taught us many lessons

in term the field of electricity. In fact, lightning produces the most powerful electrical power in nature. And the sudden strike of a lightning comes also the burst of electricity to which it glows as it appears.

To understand what this mean, it would be better to first see that happens when a lightning occurs. We already know that matter is made up of positive and negatively charged particles. And the law of physics states that opposite charged particles attract each other. And if they are separated, they always have the tendency to reunite with each other.

Our atmosphere too is made up of these two types of particles. When there is a huge cloud in the horizon,  the negative or positive charge are build up in one part off the cloud (mostly on the base of it). These build-ups induce a strong charge


below it on the ground surface of the earth. As the lay of physics applied to this, the negatively charged electrons tend to start moving towards the positively charged electrons. The movements will gradually build-up a channel of charged electrons between the cloud and the ground surface. And when the charged are great enough, it will create a strong surge of electron, and will result to a lightning flash.

Now, there are instances that the build-up of charges is broken down before it is strong enough to cause lightning flash. This is caused by the leaking off the charges back to the earth. This is the same way to which the lightning rods work. The lightning rod causes the electrons to leak off towards the ground (earth).

From this explanation, the only question left is where St. Elmo’s fire is. The St. Elmo’s fire is the glow of light that accompanies the sudden discharge of the atmospheric electricity or lightning.  The St. Elmo’s fire is the bright light we always see on the tip of the light on the ends of any pointed objects the lightning hit. Such light can be observed vividly at the tip of church towers when a lightning strike hits.



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