Orbs: Genuine Paranormal Phenomena or Spurious Ghostly Images?
Cell block at Eastern State Penitentiary
Photo by D. Polak
Witness tree at a Gettysburg battle site. IR photo taken at night. Photo by T. Petuskey
One of the most controversial subjects in paranormal research circles today concerns orbs. We're talking about the round objects that appear in a variety of colors, sizes, visual textures, and varying degrees of luminosity in digital photographs and sometimes even on film. A plethora of books and videos are appearing that attempt to explain the composition of orbs. Some researchers dismiss orbs as nothing more than reflections from dust, water droplets, or other airborne particles. Others argue that orbs are manifestations of various entities some of whom often express intelligence and attempt to communicate with observers. Whether one thinks that orbs are human spirits, angelic beings, space aliens, or creatures from another dimension depends on one's individual interpretation of the existing research on the subject. Some books and a DVD worth considering are the following:
The Orb Project by Ledwith and Heinemann; Spirit Orb Phenomena: Fact or Fiction? by Anthony Sercombe; and "Orbs: The Veil is Lifting" DVD by Richard Cohn.
Based on our own research and experiments, SCOPE NJ believes that most orbs appearing in photographs are nothing more than light reflections from dust or other airborne particles. This is easily illustrated in the two pictures below. The first full-spectrum photo displays a cellar stairway and wall with no visible orbs. Seconds after this photo was taken, a couple of dust mops were whacked together at the same location to release dust into the air. A second full-spectrum photo immediately taken of the same location revealed several orbs in the space that was orb-free moments earlier.
As a result of this experiment, it would seem logical to conclude that orbs are nothing more than light reflecting from dust or other airborne particles. However, it's more appropriate to say that this conclusion only applies to some orbs.
Since it is theorized that ghosts may exist as a form of electromagnetic or electrostatic energy, it is theoretically possible that certain airborne particles such a dust may be attracted to these entities and render them visually apparent in certain photographs. Also, we believe that some glowing orbs may be paranormal. Below is a digital photograph of a dining room at Carlisle Castle in England. The orbs pointed out by yellow arrows appear to be reflections from dust. However, take note of the orb pointed out with the red arrow. We zoomed in on this orb and revealed a ghostly head that we believe is King William Rufus II or one of his relatives. His nose, cheekbones, hair, and large mustache are evident.
Carlisle Castle photos by Tom Petuskey
With the above information in mind, SCOPE NJ will not automatically judge a location as being haunted merely by the presence of orbs in photographs taken at the site, nor will it discount the possibility that some orbs may be genuinely paranormal. Hopefully, one day we'll know enough about these phenomena to be able to reliably discern the difference.
The orb-head remarkably shows even more detail in this enlargement. Hair, eyes, nose, cheeks, and a large, bushy moustache are easily discerned.
Standing or moving water is known to be associated with enhanced paranormal events.
Click the torch to see an eccentric orb.
Some Genuine Orb Photos and Haunted Locations
Street in East Brunswick, NJ
Eastern State Penitentiary
Burlington County Jail/Museum
Sachs Bridge, Gettysburg
Village Inn, Englishtown, NJ
Here is a representative sampling from our orb library. We believe these are legitimate spirit orbs. Several of them, Village Inn, Sachs Bridge, Forest Orb, and Moon-like Orb are most assuredly genuine. Skeptics claim that all orbs are dust particles only inches from the camera lens. As you can see, these were photographed some distance away from the camera as the orbs are partially obscured--one by plastic clothes bags and the others by vegetation.
Middlesex County, NJ
Cave Orb, Barbados
A "Haunted Inn"
A Forest Orb
Is this orb producing its own light?
St. Clement's Church
Moon-like Orb in Tree Branches