Science Frontiers, No. 146, Mar-Apr, 2003, p. 4

The Naga Fireballs

Twice before (SF#114 and #116), we have touched on the Naga Fireballs that rise from Thailand's Mekong River when the moon is full on the eleventh lunar month (in October). During this annual event, hundreds, sometimes thousands, of red, pink, and orange luminous spheres break the river's surface and sail off into the sky. This event has been observed for hundreds of years and, in modern times, repeatedly video-taped. It is now a major tourist attraction.
The year 2002 display was disappointing; only 824 fireballs counted at the usual locations. And they seem to be getting smaller, too. In 1994, some were the size of beachballs, in 2002 the size reference is the tennis ball.
Scientific studies of the phenomenon seem nonexistent. We are left only with some very wild surmises: (1) Spontaneous ignition of riverbed gas deposits released by the full-moon's gravitational pull (!); and (2) The combustion of natural butane and atomic oxygen created by the full-moon's radiation!
Obviously, we need some hard science applied here. And what's so different about the October full moon gravitation-wise and ultraviolet-wise?

(Sutton, David; "The Naga Fireballs," *Fortean Times,* no. 166, p. 35, February 2003. Anonymous; *The Gate,* p. 10, January 2003. Both of these off-mainstream publications cite Thai newspapers.)


Thanks to Frits Westra