Phenomena That Drive Conspiracy Theorists Wild

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Crown Flashes

On June 12th, YouTuber QuadeM13 was out riding his bicycle in rural Indiana. At one point, he glanced up at the darkened, cloud-filled sky and witnessed a something he'd never seen before: a large strand of light resembling a plume of fire, dancing above an ominous cloud. In shock, he whipped out his camera and shot a video, then posted it to YouTube when he returned home. The sight left him shaken, so his first suspicions turned to the extraordinary. He blamed the phenomenon on the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) a joint program of the University of Alaska, the Air Force, and the Navy whose purpose is to analyze the ionosphere, a region of Earth's upper atmosphere ionized by solar radiation. HAARP is also the focus of a variety of imaginative conspiracy theories, centering on the fallacious claim that the organization can trigger weather catastrophes.

But QuadeM13's suspicions were quickly assuaged by scientific explanations. The strange light he saw was actually a crown flash, which results from ice crystals in clouds rapidly aligning with fluctuating electric fields and reflecting the sun's rays as they move. Notice how the hue of the strange light in the image is exactly the same as the concealed sun. Crown flashes are extremely rare, and were only recognized in 1970.

(Image: QuadeM13)

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