1840, September 25: Luminous Rainfall in Africa

On May 4, 1841, a letter was read at a meeting of the Academy of Sciences in Paris, France, that had been written by an unnamed officer of the Algerian army. The letter reported that on September 25, 1840, while stationed in Africa and during a violent storm, the officer and his men witnessed what he took to be an "unusual phenomena of electricity." When the men carried their rifles, the points of the bayonets were strongly luminous; they did not give off sparks, however, and the rifles piled in the stands showed no signs of similar phenomena.

        Equally odd was that the drops of rain that fell on the beards or mustaches of the men remained hanging in place and glowed "in a state of phosphorence." When the hair was wiped, the glow vanished... until new drops landed on the facial hair.

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