What Is Saint Elmo’s Fire?
Saint Elmo’s fire is the name given to the glow of light that is sometimes seen on ship masts, airplane wings and church steeples during a thunderstorm. It is actually a charge of electricity caused by the storm.
Saint Elmo’s fire is a weather phenomenon in which luminous plasma is created by a corona discharge from a sharp or pointed object in a strong electric field in the atmosphere.
The electricity discharges into the air in a harmless flash of light that looks like fire as it flickers on a ship’s tall masts. “Saint Elmo” is the nickname of Saint Erasmus of Formia, who was considered the patron saint of Mediterranean sailors.
Sailors considered St. Elmo’s fire as a good omen. They believed that the ghostly light was a sign that the saint was watching over their ships and protecting them during storms.