Tuesday, March 25, 2008

from David Thompson's Narrative of His Explorations in Western America, 1784-1812

(page 118; capitalization, spelling, and punctuation as printed)

As we were about to rise, a brilliant light [rose] over the east end of the Lake, its greatest length; it was a Meteor of globular form, and it appeared larger than the Moon, which was then high; it seemed to come direct towards us, lowering as it came, when within three hundred yards of us, it struck the River ice, with a sound like a mass of jelly, was dashed into innumerable luminous pieces and instantly expired. Andrew would have run away but he had no time to do so; curiosity chained me to the spot. We got up, went to our fire, found nothing to eat, and lay down. As the ice of the River was covered with about one sixth of an inch of frozen snow, just enough to show our footsteps, the next morning we went to see what marks this meteor had made on the ice, but could not discover that a single particle was marked, or removed; its form appeared globular, and from its size it must have had some weight; it had no tail, and no luminous sparks came from it until dashed to pieces. The Meteors that have been seen in Europe, have all appeared to be of a fiery nature, some of exploded with a loud noise, and stones have descended from them.

Two, or three nights afterwards, I was, as usual roaming to find some game, about six in the evening, from the east end of the lake, coming in the same direction, I saw a Meteor, which appeared larger but not so bright as the first; I was near the Beaver house, but walking in a large grove of fine Aspins, the Meteor entered the wood about eight feet above the ground, as it struck the trees, pieces flew from it, and went out; as it passed close by me striking the trees with the sound of a mass of jelly, I noticed them; although it must have lost much of its size from the many trees it struck, it went out of my sight, a large mass. The Aspins have on their bark a whitish substance like flour, after dry weather; the next day I examined the Aspins struck by the Meteor, but even this fine flour on the bark was not marked; I was at a loss what to think of it, its stroke gave sound, and therefore must have substance. These two Meteors were, perhaps, compressed bodies of phosphoric air; but without the least heat, for had there been any, the second Meteor passed so near to me I must have felt it.

No comments: