"Orb" is a term used
by Believers for a light anomaly which they feel is of paranormal
origin whereas Sceptics, who doubt their origin, prefer to use the
term "light anomaly".
These anomalies are usually circular/spherical in form and are mostly
captured on digital stills/video cameras, however they do also show-up
on conventional film but to a much lesser extent.
"Orbs" are one of
the most commonly seen examples of "paranormal evidence"
but there is absolutely no scientific basis to this claim, however
there are several thoughts, from Believers, as to what orbs actually
1. The first stage of a spirit's
manifestation - its energy field. 2. Energy being drawn away from an
electrical power source by a spirit in order to manifest or to communicate.
A lot of people also claim
to be able to see faces in "orbs" but this is something
that will be covered in a later article.
So why don't they show up so
often on a film camera?
Perhaps they do, may be the processing labs see "orbs" as
a flaw in the negative and don't make a print - if you are using a
conventional film camera on a paranormal investigation you should
always ask for all the negatives to be printed no matter what.
Looking at it from a Believer's perspective, a digital camera will
capture paranormal orbs due to its imaging system being electronic
and a spirit's energy also being electrical - the energy isn't a visible
entity to the eye and therefore a conventional film camera cannot
Why so many "orbs"
One possible explanation could be the camera's chip, apparently in
low light the chip may compensate and inadvertently cause "noise",
this "noise" could show as "orbs" on the resulting
Also some digital cameras "fill in" missing bits of an image,
possibly creating anomalies in the process.
Now for the harsh realities
from a sceptical perspective.
The majority, if not all, examples of orbs are either caused by dust,
moisture, insects or some other small airborne particulate with reflective
properties causing light to reflect into the camera lens. The bigger
the "orb" - the closer the reflective particle to the lens.
This light can be either natural daylight, artificial light, camera
flash or even infra-red light as used with night-vision video cameras.
Below: in very basic diagrammatic
form (camera in black) - the camera flash (in yellow) hits the airborne
particle (in red) causing the flash to be reflected (in blue) back
into the camera lens
So why do "orbs"
show up in alleged haunted locations?
Orbs can show up anywhere whether reputedly haunted or not, take enough
photos and you will eventually get one, any suitable airborne particle
has to potential to become an "orb".
Perhaps they are more common in haunted locations because the properties
are generally old and have dusty atmospheres plus photos taken in
these types of places are scrutinised more thoroughly for "orbs".
Below, left: a deliberately
created "Dust Orb".
Below, right: a deliberately created "Moisture Orb".
Video represents a better tool, there
is often more opportunity to study the "orb" and its movement
over a longer duration, whereas a stills' photo only represents a
split second in real time.
The following video-clip shows a moving, flashing "orb"
captured under the stage at the Theatre Royal in Margate (depending
on your monitor type and settings, you may not be able to see the
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On the face of it, it's pretty
compelling evidence of paranormal activity but take a few minutes
to consider the alternatives.
Could this orb be an insect?
If it is an insect why does it flash?
A possible answer to these questions is, yes it could be an insect
in flight, as it moves through the air with its wings beating, it
presents different surfaces to the light, in this case infra-red.
Some of these surfaces are reflective, others not. Those reflective
surfaces bounce the light back to the video camera which then appear
Now that we have introduced an element of doubt, we cannot say for
sure that this video-clip shows a paranormal orb.
Having now possibly obliterated
your belief in any "orb" being paranormal, there is still
The following image was captured on a digital camera during the same
investigation as the previous video-clip. This orb does not appear
to conform to the "standard", could this orb be in the minority
and actually be of paranormal origin?
For argument's sake, let's assume
that some orbs are indeed paranormal, how on earth do we begin distinguishing
the paranormal orb from say the dust orb? I'm afraid this, like most
things associated with the paranormal, is something we will probably
never get a definitive answer for.
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