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Saint Elmo's Fire was probably the first recorded form of corona. During stormy weather at sea, there appeared occasionally flamelike reddish or bluish lights on the tops of masts and on the ends of yardarms . Sailors associated it with a benign protection and called it after their patron saint, Saint Elmo. Many years later Benjamin Franklin would claim, but not explain, that the sailors were right and that the wet masts and spars were acting as lightning rods, and were protecting. Because the rounded head of the mast wore this light like a crown or halo, it was later referred to as corona (the Latin word for crown) by the Latin-oriented scholars of those days. Many years later, as sources of high-voltage electricity were developed, the same light-like phenomena were observed in the laboratory and were traditionally referred to also as corona. Its usage persisted throughout the years, and the term corona is commonly used now to describe electrical discharge phenomena occurring either internally or externally, in or on electrical apparatus or devices.
Experimental Station, E. I. DuPont de Nemours & Company, Inc., Wilmington, Del.