Skip to main content

Bloody rain again! Red rain and meteors in history and myth

  • P. McCafferty (a1)

In July 2001, red rain fell over Kerala in India shortly after reports of a meteor. When analysed, this red rain appeared to contain red cells, apparently demonstrating that such cells must exist in space and that the theory of panspermia is correct. However, doubts have been expressed about whether reports of a meteor were merely a coincidence. This paper examines historical and mythical accounts of red rain, to establish if these, too, show a connection with meteors.

Hide All
Annals of Philosophy (1820). Singular rain. Annals of Philosophy 16, 226.
Boccardo, M.G. (1870). A fall of yellow rain. Nature 2, 166.
Bouis, J. (1863). Relation d'une pluie de terre tombée dans le midi de la France et en Espagne. Comptes Rendus 56, 972974.
Britton, C.E. (1937). A Meteorological Chronology to A.D. I450 (Meteorological Office Geophysical Memoirs No. 7). HMSO, London.
Clark, F.C. (1875). Red snow. Amer. Naturalist 9(3), 129135.
Clube, S.V.M. & Napier, W. (1982). The Cosmic Serpent. Universe Books, New York.
Cowan, F. (1865). Curious Facts in the History of Insects. Lippincott&Co, London.
Daubeny, C. (1836). Report on the present state of our knowledge, Ann. Rep. British Assoc. Adv. Sci. 5, 195.
De Meyer, & de Stoop, . (1819). Pluie rouge tombée à Blankenberge, le 2 novembre 1819. Annales Chimie Series 2, 12, 431433.
Dio, C. The Roman History: The Reign of Augustus. Translated by Scott-Kilvert, I., 1987. Penguin, London.
Edinburgh Philosophical Journal (1820). Red rain. Edinburgh Philos. J. 2, 381382.
Ehrenberg, C.G. (1849). Passat-Staub und Blut-Regen: ein grosses organisches unsichtbares Wirken und Leben in der Atmosphäre. Königlichen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Berlin.
Fitzsimmons, A. (2006). Quoted in ‘Red rain may have extraterrestrial origin’. Sunday Herald, by Jenifer Johnston, 15 January 2006.
Flammarion, N.C. (1889). Pluie de sable des 6 et 18 Mars a Alexandrie. Astronomie 8, 201205.
Fort, C. (1919). The Book of the Damned. Prometheus Books (Abacus edition, 1973; Hypertext edition available online:
Fort, C. (1931). Lo! (republished by Ace Books, 1941).
Goddard, I.W. (2006a). Possible causal mechanisms of Kerala's Red Rain, [accessed November 2006].
Goddard, I.W. (2006b). The colored rains of Kerala: an exploration of possible causal mechanisms. Noesis 180, 1018.
Graves, R. (1820). Account of a gelatinous meteor. Amer. J. Sci. 2(2), 335337.
Greg, R.P. (1854). Observations on meteorolites or aërolites, considered geographically, statistically, and cosmologically, accompanied by a complete catalogue. Philos. Mag. 4(8), 329342, 449463.
Greg, R.P. (1861). A Catalogue of Meteorites and Fireballs, from A.D.2 to A.D.1860. In Report of the Thirtieth Meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, Oxford, June and July 1860. John Murray, London.
Hitchcock, E. (1834). On the meteors of Nov. 13, 1833. Amer. J. Sci. 1(25), 354363.
Jones, D.C.H. & Rieu, E.V. (2003). Homer ‘The Iliad’. Penguin Classics, London.
Hoyle, F. & Wickramasinghe, N.C. (1999). Comets – a vehicle for panspermia. Astrophys. Space Sci. 268, 333341.
JPL (2006). [accessed 30 November 2006].
Kinsella, T. (1969). The Tain – From the Irish Epic ‘Tain Bo Cuailnge’. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Kvenvolden, K.A. et al. (1970). Evidence for extraterrestrial amino-acids and hydrocarbons in the Murchison meteorite. Nature 228, 923926.
Lais, J. (1877). Notes. Nature 16, 197198.
Lewy, B.C. (1847). Sur la pluie terreuse tombée dans la partie sud-est de la France, pendant les grands orages des 16 et 17 octobre 1846, Comptes Rendus, 24, 810812; Comptes Rendus 23, 832; Comptes Rendus 24, 625.
Louis, G. & Kumar, A.S. (2003). New biology of red rain extremophiles prove cometary panspermia. Preprint, submitted to astrophysics e-print archive on December 29, 2003,
Louis, G. & Kumar, A.S. (2006). The red rain phenomenon of Kerala and its possible extraterrestrial origin. Astrophys. Space Sci. 2, 0601022.
Mackenzie, D.A. (1913). Indian Myth and Legend, p. 289. Gresham Publishing Company, London.
McCafferty, P. & Baillie, M. (2005). The Celtic Gods – Comets in Irish Mythology. Tempus, Stroud.
Monthly Weather Review (1877). Notes and Extracts. Mon. Weather Rev. May, p. 11.
Muir, H. (2006). It's raining aliens. New Scientist, 4 March, p. 37.
Nature (1870). Notes. Nature 2, 168169.
Nature (1876). Notes. Nature 13, 413415.
Obsequens (4th Century AD). Liber de prodigiis (Book of Prodigies). Translated by Schlesinger, A.C. (1959). Livy: in Fourteen Volumes, with an English translation. Livy, vol. xiv. Summaries, Fragments and Obsequens. Loeb classical library, No. 404. William Heinemann Ltd, London and Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
O'Donovan, J. (ed. and transl.) (1848–51). Annala Rioghachta Eireann: Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland by the Four Masters from the Earliest Period to the Year 1616. Volume 3: Translation. John Hodges & Smith, Dublin.
Palazzo, L. (1901). A rain of bird blood. Popular Sci. News 35, 104.
Pliny, (1st Century AD). Historia Naturalis, Book II, LVII. Translated by Rackham, H. (1949). Pliny. Natural History, With an English Translation in Ten Volumes, vol. 1, Books I and II. Loeb Classical Library. William Heinemann Ltd, London and Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA.
Popular Science Review (1870). Meteoric dust in snow. Popular Sci. Rev. 10, 112.
Ratcliffe, T. (1872). Black rain. Notes and Queries, s.4, 9 (March 30), p. 267.
Reuter, T. (transl.) (1992). The Annals of Fulda. Manchester University Press, Manchester.
Sampath, S., Abraham, T.K., Sasi Kumar, V. & Mohanan, C.N. (2001). Coloured rain: a report on the phenomenon. CESS-PR-114-2001, Center for Earth Science Studies and Tropical Botanic Garden and Research Institute.
Silvestri, O. (1872). Studio chimico microscopico di una particolare pioggia accompagnnia da polvere meteorica, caduta in Sicilia nei giorni 9, 10 e 11 marzo 1872. Gazetta Chimica Italiana 2, 8388. (Translated and reviewed in (1872)). Chemico-microscopic research of a peculiar substance which accompanied the meteoric dust which fell in Sicily on 9th, 10th, and 11th March last. Chemical News 25, 300 and (1872). Analysis of meteoric sand. Ann. Sci. Industry 2, 119120.
Tatlock, J.S.P. (1914). Some medieval cases of blood-rain, Classical Philology 9(4), 442447.
Timbs, J. (ed.) (1876). Red snow near London. Timb's Year-Book of Facts in Science and Art, p. 89. A. Hart, Philadephia.
Watson, B. (transl.) (1967). Basic Writings of Mo Tzu, Hsün Tzu, and Han Fei Tzu. Columbia University Press, New York.
Wilde, W.R.W. (1856). Table of cosmical phenomena, epizootics, epiphitics, famines, and pestilences in Ireland. Census of Ireland for the Year 1851, part v. (Republished as Coates, T. (2002). The Irish Book of Death and Flying Ships. Tim Coates, London and New York.)
Wood, J.A. (1968). Meteorites and the Origin of Planets, p. 4. McGraw-Hill, New York.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

International Journal of Astrobiology
  • ISSN: 1473-5504
  • EISSN: 1475-3006
  • URL: /core/journals/international-journal-of-astrobiology
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 5
Total number of PDF views: 15 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 781 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 22nd March 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.