Saturday, March 22, 2008

from Chambers's Edinburgh Journal, 1849

(page 416)

The fireball, though probably electrical, has never been properly accounted for. The most remarkable one on record occurred on the 18th August 1783, about 9 p.m., and was visible over a ... extent of Europe, from the north of Ireland to ... frequently changing its form and hue. It crossed its zenith at Edinburgh, and then appeared round and well-defined, of a greenish colour, casting a shade upon the ground of a similar tint: a tail of considerable length attended it. Its aspect was much changed when seen at Greenwich, for it then looked like two bright balls, the diameter of which was about two feet, followed by others connected together by a luminous body, and finally terminating in a blaze tapering to a point: the colours of the balls were different. This was a phenomenon awfully grand! The height of the ball was estimated to be far above that usually assigned to our atmosphere; its speed was not less than 1000 miles a minute, and its diameter was computed at 2800 yards. The fireball sometimes heralds the appearance of falling stars, a phenomenon equally mysterious: on one occasion at least a thousand of the latter fell before dawn.

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