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Scientists have been puzzled by the Naga fireballs, but they offer a more down-to earth explanation what could be causing the explosions from the river. The Naga fireballs have been witnessed by thousands of people. Each year, thousands of red glowing orbs shoot from the water quickly and rise silently to around feet in the air before disappearing. The number of fireballs reported varies between tens and thousands each year.

Naga Fireballs.

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Image Credit: Tourism Authority of Thailand. I was in Phon Phisai on Saturday night October 7 for the anticipated fireball display. The human part of the light show — fireworks, rockets, large fire balloons, fireboats etc — was in great evidence, but when the Naga fireballs started emerging, they were strikingly different to the easily discernible human displays — very straight vertical flights out of river to a great height and then disappearing after a few seconds.

Each appearance was greeted with a huge roar from the thousands of people lining the river at every vantage point along the Mekong. The fireballs appear very often on the late autumn night of the full moon at the end of the Buddhist Lent for as long as anyone can remember. In modern day Thailand, the celebration involves huge gatherings of people on the bank of the river, all to watch the fireballs rise and disappear in the heavens.

The celebration commemorates the return of Buddha in Naga form. It is widely believed by Buddhists and others that the Naga Fireballs are actually the breath of a giant sea serpent, a Naga or Phaya Naga that lives in the riverbed and awakes every year at this time to honor the conclusion of vassa The three month long season of Rain Retreat or Buddhist Lent.

Naga Fireball Festival - Thailand's Most Mysterious Festival

Image credit: Wikipedia. They can appear entirely in human form, as serpents or half-human and half-serpent.

In Thailand and Java, the Naga is a wealthy underworld deity. In Laos they are beaked water serpents. Nagas are believed to reside live in an underground kingdom called Naga-loka, or Patala-loka, which is filled with resplendent palaces, beautifully ornamented with precious gems. They are also associated with waters -rivers, lakes, seas, and wells, and are guardians of treasure.

In Thailand, the Nagas are regarded as protectors of Vientaine the capital of Laos and by extension, Laos State, but they are revered by most in the Makong river area of Thailand as powerful magical beasts. One explanation for the Naga Fireballs is that swamp gas which is formed as organic material decomposes underground producing pockets of methane.

The methane eventually finds its way to the surface, and upon contacting oxygen-rich air, spontaneously ignites producing a brief burst of flaming gaseous bubbles. Manos Kanoksilp who studied the Naga fireballs theorizes that the phenomenon requires a precise alignment of the sun, moon and Earth, and that the Mekong river provides a perfect storm of conditions to bring about the fireballs every year at the same time. Naga Lights. Phosphine is manufactured for industrial purposes through a carefully orchestrated chemical process.Sometimes the debate goes beyond polite discourse too, and in such cases believers in whatever phenomena can get outright nasty.

A little background first. The Naga Fireballs are much as their name suggests. They are the focal point of a phenomenon that occurs in late October every year, on the Mekong River in Southeast Asia. They are little fireballs that silently rise up out of the river, burning red in colour.

They can occur in the thousands, though some years have recorded as few as In modern day Thailand, the celebration involves huge gatherings of people on the bank of the river, all to watch the fireballs rise and disappear in the heavens. The Naga, as history buffs and perhaps gamers will find familiar, is the name of a mythical creature, said to be a giant sea serpent or snake or sometimes a dragon. Most in the skeptical camp believe that a species of oarfish is responsible for this myth. This spiritual significance is what, ultimately, led to the unrest among revelers in The show, Code Crackers, offered a not so traditional view of the Naga Fireballs.

Their expose suggested that the fireballs are not the breath of the great Naga, but are in fact tracer rounds being fired into the sky by Laos guards on the opposite shore of the nearly half-mile-wide river. This offended the spiritual beliefs of some several hundreds of thousands of believers, and protests and lawsuits ensued. Though, in this case, they may be right. To anyone unfamiliar with UFO phenomenon and its culture, the swamp gas explanation says that in marshy areas, organic material decomposes underground producing deposits of methane.

Said methane eventually finds its way to the surface, and upon coming into contact with oxygen, it spontaneously ignites providing a brief little light show for anyone who happens to be nearby. Fairly simple chemistry actually. According to Brian Dunning of Skeptoid, one Dr. Manos Kanoksilp, a pediatrician, theorises that the Naga Fireball phenomenon requires a precise alignment of the sun, moon and Earth, and that the Makong River provides a perfect storm of conditions, regarding methane and oxygen levels combined with ambient temperature, to bring about the fireballs every year at the same time.

Tridech and his team used equipment to measure conditions during the celebration and apparently determined that the fireballs were the result of built up phosphine gas. Though most believe, similar to methane, it is the product of bacterial reduction of phosphate in decomposing organic material. Brian Dunning disagrees with the swamp gas theory, however.

The swamp gas process described above, based on methane gas, requires highly specific conditions. The right concentrations of methane and oxygen and certain environmental conditions are necessary for spontaneous combustion.

It may come as no surprise that he favours the Laotian guards firing into the sky theory, and suggests that they may be paid to do so by local officials. Phosphine however, is a touch more volatile than methane, and could account for the Naga Fireball phenomenon, but it too would require special circumstances to be consistent over time.

Today, and as a result of a huge boom in Naga Fireball related tourism in the area, the festival is overrun by fireworks, which completely negates anyone actually seeing the fireballs in person, unless one happens to erupt right in front of them. Nonetheless, there are many videos of the fireballs on YouTube, like the one below — so ultimately, you can make up your own mind. The Naga Fireballs: What is the source of the glowing balls that rise from the Mekong river each October?

December Skeptoid. By Martin J. Clemens on Tuesday, November 6th. See all results. Remember Me. Sign In. Lost password?As we approach aurora borealis season in the northern hemisphere, something far stranger grips the Isaan region in northeast Thailand. For pessimists, they are a hoax and for realists they are natural phenomena that have baffled scientists for decades. Or, better still, go and experience them for yourself.

Some believe the flaming balls which burst from the surface of the Mekong River to be the breath of the fearsome Naga, a river serpent of Buddist lore that roams the river in this part of the Nong Khai province.

The tale has certainly stood the test of time as has the seemingly immortal creature and there are written accounts dating back hundreds of years. In the 21st century we live in a world more dominated by science than folklore or legend — although they make enchanting stories. So for all you realists out there, you must be aching to comprehend the scientific reasoning behind this beautiful display by mother nature.

Mana Kanoksin is a local doctor and self taught cosmographer. He has dedicated 11 years to the theory that the fireballs are a methane gas bubbling up from the bottom of the river. He attributes the bi-annual event to the position of the Earth to the sun. While this is no official or accepted scientific theory, it is one of the few in existence.

And it does explain why the event occurs over a couple of days in October and also in May, when the Earth returns to the same position. But there is opposition to the theory. Montre Boonsaneur is a professor of geological technology lecturing at Khon Kaen University. He was responsible for an underwater survey in the research stages before the construction of the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge and is adamant that the rough waters and stony riverbed are not ideal conditions for methane to reach the surface.

But if option one and two have left you unsatisfied, that only leaves option three; that the whole spectacle is one big prank that has fooled people for centuries.

Perhaps it started out as a beguiling story and some ambitious pyrotechnics have been recreating the fictional scenario for the last years? If so, how have they managed to illude the Thai patrol boats? Here, from sunset until approximately 11pm, devotees and dreamers will feast their eyes upon an array of smokeless, soundless fireballs rising into the air from the depths of the Mekong river.

The fireballs are vary in size from small sparkles to glowing basketballs, and appear in unpredictable numbers between tens and thousands per night along a km section of the Mekong River.

These luminous orbs rise from the water into the sky, ascending a few hundred metres before they evaporate into the night. A shower of shooting stars in reverse. Alternatively, have a chat to the locals, they fill you in on the best places to experience the action. In other words, even if the fireballs were miraculously not to appear, your journey to Nong Khai would hardly be a wasted one! Just remember to come prepared with supplies as, when the procession has passed, onlookers will settle in for the long haul as they wait for the magic to commence….

You could make a day trip from the Udon Backpackers which is located about miles from Si Chiang. Thanks to larryoien. Your email address will not be published. Naga Fireballs: Science, Myth or Hoax? What are the Naga Fireballs? Science In the 21st century we live in a world more dominated by science than folklore or legend — although they make enchanting stories.Glowing balls are alleged to naturally rise from the water high into the air.

They quickly rise up to a couple of hundred metres before disappearing. The number of fireballs reported varies between tens and thousands per night. Fireballs have also been reported rising from smaller rivers, lakes and ponds in the region.

The fireballs were called "ghost lights" by locals until the mids, when the local council officially named them "phaya nak lights". In one observer noted that, " Although the fireballs are regularly seen on the river during the Phayanak Festival, a iTV documentary showed Laotian soldiers firing tracer rounds into the air across the river from the festival.

Skeptic Brian Dunning suggests that it would be impossible for anyone across the half-mile river to hear a gunshot because it would take 2.

Some individuals have attempted to explain the phenomenon scientifically.

what are the naga fireballs

One explanation is that the fireball is a result of flammable phosphine gas generated by the marshy environment. A similar explanation involves a phenomenon seen in plasma physics : free-floating plasma orbs [9] created when surface electricity e. However, these are produced under controlled conditions during plasma ball experiments using high voltage capacitors, microwave oscillators, or microwave ovensrather than naturally occurring.

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South China Morning Post. Retrieved 4 March American Physical Society. Hidden categories: Wikipedia articles needing factual verification from October Articles containing Thai-language text Articles to be expanded from August All articles to be expanded Articles using small message boxes Commons category link is on Wikidata. Namespaces Article Talk. Views Read Edit View history. Help Learn to edit Community portal Recent changes Upload file.

Download as PDF Printable version.The Naga Fireball is a phenomenon in which bright glowing orbs emerge across a considerably wide stretch of Mekong River near the province of Nong Khai in Thailand. The strange-but-beautiful phenomenon occurs during late October.

While the reason behind the fireballs is certainly not clear, both science and spirituality have taken two different stances. This festival marks the return of the Buddha at the end of the Buddhist Lent.

As a result, people say, these fireballs are nothing more than the breath of the Naga. Nagas are giant snakes, quite commonly mentioned in several mythological texts throughout the all of South-East Asia including the Indian sub-continent. A photo of 30 US soldiers holding a long sea creature that looks like a giant snake is in circulation in Nong Khai, minting a handsome amount of money to the locals.

After all, we live in the 21 st century and science has backed several such phenomena with principled explanations based on reasoning. Methane is volatile in nature. Despite being a true theory, it requires a special and elaborate set of conditions to take place. There is a specific alignment of the sun, the moon and the earth that causes the oxygen levels near the surface of the river to rise up to abnormal levels, igniting the pockets of methane that are released.

When these conditions are again met in the month of May, the fireballs can again be seen rising up. This is not a universal or official explanation, but a widely accepted one. However, in this case, the gas is phosphine, not methane. Phosphine is a gas similar to methane, just a bit more volatile and reacts similarly with oxygen.

However, phosphine is not a naturally occurring gas. Theorists suggest that the bacterial decomposition of the phosphate deposits along the river produce this gas, they are not quite sure why, but, this argument still seems plausible. While all of the above theories create a buzz, none of them creates a controversy. The Mekong River also borders Laos.

After crossing the river, they found that it was Laotian soldiers who were firing the tracer rounds in the sky. The fireballs were nothing but just fireworks whose sound was masked by the happily cheering crowd on the Thailandian side. The people who saw the clip also started to believe that the fireballs phenomenon was rigged and that there was nothing mystical or special about it.

what are the naga fireballs

It was just a simple show of fireworks. When the documentary was aired init created controversy and faced severe criticism. This sudden burst ofpeople brought in revenue of 2.

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DeeDee Van Wormer. Oarfishes live in salty waters across the world. It is quite rare to spot one but several people have done so. But interestingly, while this festival has ancient roots to it, we only find written records of Naga Fireballs as late as the 20th century; there is no written record prior to it.

Enjoyed this article? However, things can go wrong. You must be logged in to post a comment.The Naga Fireball festival is a unique and fascinating festival celebrated in Thailand. In this festival, people gather along a certain km stretch of the Mekong river, to witness glowing red 'fireballs' shoot up into the sky. The number of fireballs sighted can range from hundreds to thousands. The local people attribute this phenomenon to the mythical 'Phaya Nak', a giant serpent which they believe resides within the river.

Forthe festival is expected to start on 23rd October. This phenomenon occurs around the end or after the end of the 'Buddhist Lent' period. This is usually in the period of mid to late October and early November each year. The festival will be held over a week in the two neighbouring towns of Phon Phisai and Nong Khai, running along the Mekong River in northern Thailand.

The phenomenon of Naga Fireballs is a dazzling spectacle shrouded in myth and science. On a late October or early November night, thousands of red glowing orbs spring up from the water at the Mekong River rapidly and light up the dark sky for a few seconds before they disappear in thin air.

This queer occurring has garnered the interest of scientists and locals for a long time. Both have formed their opinion on it. The locals believe that the lights are supernatural and thus, comes the name Naga Dancing Fireballs as the locals call the phenomenon. On the other hand, scientists have still not figured out an exact explanation, but they have a few theories which might be causing the explosions underneath the river.

The end of the Buddhist Lent is what the locals call the period. Locals believed that the fireballs are the breath of a gigantic sea serpent called a Naga or Phaya Nak, who lives under the river and wakes up around this time every year to honor the conclusion of the three months long Buddhist Lent or rain retreat season, also called Vassa.

Nagas are described as shape-shifters in Buddhism, Hinduism, and Jainism. Whether it is a human form, full serpent or half serpent half human form, the Nagas can take up whatever shape they prefer. The Naga is considered a wealthy deity of the underworld in Thailand. They are regarded as guardians of treasure who reside in the underwater kingdom of Patala-Loka or Naga-Loka, a place beautifully ornamented with precious gems. They are also considered as protectors of the capital city of LaosVientiane and as powerful magical beasts in the area of Mekong river.

In present-day Thailand, the phenomenon is considered a festival and is celebrated widely.

Naga Fireball: Glowing Orbs that Enlighten the Mekong River in Thailand

People, in large numbers, gather at the bank of the river Mekong, where the phenomenon takes place every time. Before the actual event, the locals celebrate by bursting colourful fireworks, rockets, fireboats, and balloons until the glowing fireballs start shooting from the water. Each fireball is welcomed with a massive roar from the people. It is said that the celebration commemorates the return of Buddha in Naga form. Scientists have different explanations for the Naga Fireballs. One of it is that the fireballs are swamp gas, which is formed when pockets of methane are formed due to decomposition of organic material underground.

The trapped methane eventually reaches the surface and comes in contact with oxygen-rich air, resulting in a spontaneous ignition and a brief burst of flame, which people call the Naga Fireballs. Manos Kanoksilp, a scientist who has studied these oddities, theorizes that precise alignment of the Earth, sun, and moon is required for such an event to happen. And Mekong river provides the necessary conditions, the main reason for why this doesn't happen anywhere else but in Thailand.

This has also been proved in an experiment conducted by the Thai Science Ministry. Phosphine is a human-made gas and is manufactured for several industrial purposes through a carefully orchestrated chemical process. Thus, it is highly unclear how the process happens naturally. There are also scientists who claim that the fireballs a free-forming plasma orb, created when electricity is discharged into the river.

For now, it's not clear what causes the phenomenon, but this certainly doesn't stop people from celebrating and admiring the beautiful happenings. So it doesn't matter whether you believe that the magical fireballs are the doing of an underworld serpent awakening to honour the end of Vassa or a result of methane mixing with air, join in the celebrations of the Naga Fireball festival and the accompanied merry-making as this is something rare and not seen in any other parts of the world.

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Naga Fireballs: Science, Myth or Hoax?

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what are the naga fireballs

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