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Q&A: Fireworks Pattern Shells

4 Jul 2016, 07:01 UTC
Q&A: Fireworks Pattern Shells
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Question: With July 4 coming up it reminded me to ask something I’ve been wondering about. Seems like the last few years I’ve started seeing more fireworks that look like things. Am I just experiencing pareidolia, like in your Cloudzilla post? Or is it really happening? If so, how the heck do they make something explode into a shape? — SL, Mishicot, WI
Answer: You can definitely experience pareidolia while watching a random fireworks display, but as it turns out there is a way to force fireworks into specific shapes (within limits).
First, let me say that this post may seem off-topic for Sky Lights, but fireworks does fall into the theme of “things you can see in the sky.” This question has been sitting in my “to answer” folder for several months, so when I noticed that this weeks publication date fell on the 4th of July I figured it was a good time to respond. I apologize for the delay.
Sometime in the early 1990s pyrotechnicians began experimenting with what are now called pattern shells. Nobody knows who “invented” the idea — it was likely developed independently by more than one pyro (as they like to call ...

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