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Home > History > Explorer Legends, Goals, and Destinations - St. Elmos Fire

Explorer Legends, Goals, and Destinations - St. Elmos Fire

This page describes the mysterious St. Elmo's Fire that appeared on the masts of Magellan's ships after thunderstorms.

St. Elmo's Fire

St. Elmo's Fire

St. Elmo's Fire is an electrical phenomenon in which plasma (ionized gas) is created from an object in an atmospherical electrical field such as a thunderstorm. Named after St. Erasmus of Formiae, the patron saint of fire, St. Elmo's Fire often occurred on the masts of sailing vessels following a terrifying storm. During Magellan's circumnavigation of the world, the sailors believe that the presence of St. Elmo's Fire was a divine sign leading them to continue on their journey.

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