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What causes St. Elmo's Fire?
Answered by Science Channel
  • Science Channel

    Science Channel

  1. St. Elmo's Fire is caused by a great imbalance in electrical charge. During a thunderstorm, air becomes ionized, which means it becomes a good conductor of electricity. When there is a dramatic difference in the charge between an object and the air around it, the charged object will discharge its electrical energy when the voltage reaches a high enough level. This is usually at around 30,000 volts per centimeter of space. This discharge tears apart the air molecules around the object and causes a light to glow. This light is blue because the oxygen and nitrogen in our planet's atmosphere happens to emit blue light when ignited.

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