Speculation about plasma balls in the
Speculation, because I can not go there to measure the fields in
proximity to the spheres.
In these pictures taken in the begining of the nineteen fifties.
Disks or more likely spheres were visible when the film was processed.
I have no recollection of seeing them when taking the pictures. My
conjecture was that they were beyond or near the edges of the chromatic
range of the photographic emulsion, either the red end or the blue. I
found these round bright parts in another more recent Auroral picture
with color film on Baffin Island. Color film was not very fast 50 years
ago, and a large aperture lens was beyond reach. It has been
suggested that the bright round spots in the aurora pictures were just
reflections from the camera lens, but without inspection of the prints.
It is an advantage for one with status in the scientific
they do not have to see the results of field workk from an unknown
investigator before voicing an opinion. We had coated optics
I was at the Canadian Defence Research Northern Laboratory at
Fort Churchill in Northern Manitoba. This was under the edge of the
main auroral belt. My job was mostly building instrumentation. One
I believe somewhat unofficial. We were allowed such privileges as
doing unfunded personal research projects. My boss, Dr. Jim Brandy
was building a dual monochromator(1) and
a Schmidt Camera with a
Cassgrain correction lens for observation of the Aurora. This work was not part
of what we were there for, it helped to fill the evening time. I regret
I did not return to the North to work for Dr. Brandy when he accepted
the supervision of the Rocket Range.
I had tired of the restrictions on social life on the military base
and did not feel that there was much more for me to contribute to the
laboratory. I left before the monochromator was completed. The work
was being done almost entirely by Dr. Brandy who was an excellent
tutor, mentor, and skilled in the arts and methods of experimental
For some time I had been; taking pictures of the aurora for my personal
interest, using my own reflex camera and 35 mm cameras. I used
Mercury hypersensitised Kodak Super X film. There were rumours of
geophysical year which would mean money for equipment to study
Aurora. Most of the information about the Aurora that I had
was from a Scandanavian scientist, published in 1928. We wondered if
was light from an oxygen line,
were the reddish colors from the nitrogen?
That was the
There were occasional astounding light shows, to the extent that I would
gaze in awe forgetting to go and activate my camera until the activity
to subside. Today I would have a robotic control system.
Many years later, around 1962, I received a paper from Tom Holtz
an engineer dealing with the design of electrostatic lenses for
microscopes. It was shown that a lens aperture would remain clean for a
longer time if the lens geometry included potential wells. Once an
lens was developed they cost less to manufacture than the magnetic
molecules in a dirty vacuum that would ordinarily migrate to and settle
edge of the high potential aperture and deforming it, would instead
become trapped in the potential well. That was some of the background to
my recent musing about the "balls" in the Auroral pictures.
If the Auroral fields produced a potential wells which detached from
a plasma body, the magnetic field would still be present and I expect a
great deal of RF energy would also be available. The detached plasma
fragment could be expected to assume a spherical shape
and remain active
for a time. I have seen some Auroral pictures taken from
satellites and posted
on the WWW; but the final resolution was not enough to see anything
balls of light in my pictures. I was probably less than
100 KM from the plasma.
These balls of light can be found in another auroral
picture taken more recently
with color film on Baffin Island. and published by an Inuit handcraft
I feel that I should publish this conjecture and I hope to hear from
other observers. My negatives are still in good condition. I can
my references should they be of interest. I have more prints than I
and other photographic negatives of auroral displays from years 1950-51
as yet not printed.
I am Tom Mousseau, I am now pretty old. I live in Ottawa Ontario
Canada. Dr. Brandy left this world some years ago.
Some of the pictures I refer to can be viewed at
Return to The
Olde Tsaeler Commentaries
December 22, 2002 Corrections January 21, 2003
1. Essentially a fancy broad band
spectroscope, using first surface
offset parabaloidal mirrors to
access the ultra violet as well as the visible spectrum.