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Ball lightning

Ball lightning is a natural phenomenon wherein electrical discharges from rainclouds manifest as floating objects rather than the more typical arcing circuit completions seen in more common lightning.

Ball lightning discharges are an extremely rare occurrence and witness accounts can range widely. For a long time the phenomenon was treated as myth. However, there is consensus that the discharges tend to float or hover in the air, and take on a ballish or near-ballish appearance. Sometimes the discharge is reported to be attracted to a certain object, others claim the discharge moves with its own volition or just randomly. Eventually the discharge either leaves, disperses, or is absorbed into something.

There is some debate as to the physical nature of the discharge. Most scientists would expect it to be some sort of electrified plasma, an extreme atmospheric ionization effect, an electrically induced matter phase change in the air such as heated oxygen, or perhaps a temporary visible disruption of Earth's magnetic field caused by ordinary lightning. No known attempts to create ball lightning in the lab have succeeded, suggesting the phenomenon requires extraordinary power and other conditions.

Some UFO skeptics have suggested that many apparent close encounters[?] are actually observations of ball lightning.

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