Keys to Identifying a Ghost Orb in Real-Life 

Updated June 24, 2021
Artistic concept image of a ghost orb

Imagine you're in a haunted place and you suddenly see a round ball of light materialize right in front of you. The light seems to move purposefully before--poof! It disappears. Have you just encountered a ghost orb? And if not, what did you experience?

What Is a Ghost Orb?

Ghost orbs are controversial in the field of paranormal research. However, many people believe that the easiest form for a spirit to take is a sphere, or an orb. Therefore, the belief is that the balls of light some people encounter are the spirits of the dead. What people consider ghost orbs can be seen with the naked eye. They can be any size and many appear to be lit from within to different degrees, from barely noticeable to extremely bright. They may range in color from white to any shade on the spectrum. They may hover, float, or appear to move about with purpose. So are these evidence of ghosts? The truth is, nobody knows, but many people have seen them.

"A few months ago I encountered a darkish blue coloured orb around late night, roughly 11:30pm. I was sat in a middle room and saw this orb lurking around me. I tracked it as it moved and reached out to touch. I felt a coldish chill briefly around my legs and then nothing." - Reader comment from M

Many believers suspect orb encounters are spiritual in nature. Are these the spirits of the dead? Some people believe they are. Many who have encountered an orb believe they saw the soul of a dead person, but others don't believe these spheres are actually individual spirits, but instead hosts to many spirits, all contained within the pulsating light that forms an orb. Still others believe that while these orbs are spirits, they never belonged to a human body, believing instead that they are evidence of the spiritual side of nature. Others do not believe orbs are ever spiritual or ghostly in nature.

Pollen or dust orbs

How Important Is Shape?

How can you positively identify an orb as a ghost? There really isn't a definitive answer, since you are dealing with the spiritual world. Those who believe these spheres have ghostly origins think an orb is the form a spirit takes on as it moves about. Why a circle? There are various reasons associated with the belief that a globe or orb can house a spirit.

  • A circle encloses the spirit.
  • A circle can house more than one spirit.
  • It is easy for a circle or orb to travel.
  • The circle is a common shape associated with nature, such as the moon and the sun.
  • The circle represents eternity, which is forever for the soul.

If they exist, it's likely that spiritual orbs are easily confused with common everyday items, especially in photographs. Many people base their beliefs that they've come in contact with a ghost solely on evidence gathered through pictures. Unfortunately, these so-called orbs for the most part aren't ghostly at all, but merely photographic artifacts.

"I woke up to go to the bathroom. I laid flat on my bed before rolling out. I noticed a small light coming across my ceiling. It hovered above me for a second, like saying bye. It was 3 to 4 inches round, Had a gold ring about 1 inch. Inside were several dots of lights. Many colored dots. Had a glow around it with a stream behind it." - Reader comment from Ronald

Photographic Orbs

Have you ever taken a photograph of dust? It's just one of many things that can appear to be an orb in a photo. Raindrops, snow flakes, and, most common of all, dust particles can all appear to be an orb when shot with a camera. Thus, most paranormal researchers dismiss orbs in photos because there are so many things that appear to be an orb.

"... I see a large orange-ish orb before she tries communicating. This orb is bigger than a basketball which tells me she's still a protector of the house and the property." - Reader comment from Scotty Miller

The Real Deal

So how can you tell if you've encountered a spirit orb versus something commonplace that just looks like one? The truth is you can't - not with 100% accuracy. But you can look for various signs that may indicate what you've encountered could be a ghost orb.

Tree with multicolored orbs
  • Singular orb: If dust or raindrops are in the air, they will more than likely show up in multiples, but a single orb may be real.
  • Pulsing orb: A pulsing, bright orb that appears to vibrate may actually hold a spiritual life. Obviously if you are taking still photos, you won't catch this, but if you see one of these in the room, try to record it on video.
  • Contrails: True orbs often leave a trail behind them as they move across the room. Look for this in photographs as well.
  • Its own light source: Keeping in mind camera flashes cause reflections, if an orb emits its own light source, it may be worth checking out further.
  • See it with the naked eye: If you can see an orb with your naked eye, it may be a spirit orb.
  • Deliberate movement pattern: An orb you see with your naked eye or on video that seems to have a deliberate movement pattern (as opposed to a random pattern a bug might fly in or a drifting pattern such as dust), it may be worth more investigation.
  • Sudden appearance and disappearance: If the orb materializes before you or disappears while you're looking at it, it could be paranormal.

Identifying Ghost Orbs

There aren't any clear criteria for determining whether an orb is ghostly in nature. However, by carefully evaluating conditions, what you saw, and the way the orb appears, you may get a better idea of its cause.

Read next: Here's how to take awesome orb photos.

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Keys to Identifying a Ghost Orb in Real-Life