What is St. Elmo’s fire?

       The first account of St. Elmo’s fire surfaced a few centuries ago, when sailors spotted a bright glow around their ships during thunderstorms. They believed it was something supernatural, and this belief continued to be so until scientists came up with their findings.

        In fact, St. Elmo’s fire is a phenomenon that is similar to lightning. It is a form of plasma caused by potential difference in atmosphere. Appearing like fire, the spectacle of St. Elmo’s fire is seen mainly on tall and pointed structures like lightning rods chimneys, aircraft wings etc. The glow comes along with a sound, because of which it is often confused with ball lightning.

         Let’s put it clearly with the same example of a ship. There is a difference of voltage in the atmosphere and the sea. This causes the ionization of gases surrounding the ship’s masts, which in turn, results in a glow. This is what the sailors mistook as a miracle during thunderstorms.