School of Physics Lecture Demonstration Manual

El-14 Saint Elmo's Fire

Published: Tuesday 14 March 2006 - Updated: Thursday 31 March 2011


To demonstrate the phenonemon of Saint Elmos Fire.



Click on pictures to enlarge.

Saint Elmo's Fire Pic2

Saint Elmo's Fire Pic 1


Saint Elmos Fire is associated with the glow discharge from sailing ships (Moby Dick). In this demonstration a model plane is placed in an evacuation chamber and attached to a Tesla coil. The discharge is observed as the vacuum is increased. The attached pictures show the discharge as it changes from essentially streamers originating from the wing tips and other point objects to a continuous glow as the vacuum proceeds

Safety notes

Electrical safety 

Sharps Safety 


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