Saturday, March 29, 2008

from Executive Documents of the House of Representatives, 1877

(page 86, Report of the Chief Signal-Officer)

November 17, 1876—At 4:24 p.m. I was startled by two flashes of light, which dimmed, to a great degree, the flame of an argand burner. I immediately ran to the window to look for fire, but seeing none, I rushed out of doors, and looking around I saw in the WNW., i.e., 23° N. of W., an irregular streak of fire perpendicular to the earth. Below this a second, and a third below this.

The first streak at an altitude of 28°, about 2°.5 long and 12' wide, then a space of 3° long and about the same width as the upper. A third was like the second or middle one, but was shorter and much brighter. All had the peculiar bright white light of the sun, not yellowish like the moon.

I immediately ran to tell Mr. Newman, who lives in the next house. He was hunting his hat to run to tell me that he had seen it fall. He describes it as descending slowly in a zig-zag manner, as indicated by its path, and that it seemed to swell and shrink in size while falling, and that the moon is about the size of the ball, and that the outlines of the meteor were not round but irregular.

We watched the light from 4:24 p.m. to 5 p.m., at which time the upper line of light had faded out of sight. The middle one had moved westward (nearly northward) 10°, and was now inclined to the horizon.

The third or lower was also inclined to the horizon and moving to the westward also. The middle one had then the exact shape of the hull of a large vessel, as plainly distinguishable as well-defined cirri streaks in day-time.

The lower faded out at 5:35 p.m. The middle one or hull-shaped lasted until 5:46 p.m., or a total length of time of one hour and twenty-two minutes.

This meteor was seen by three white men, including myself, and many natives, who were much frightened by the appearance.

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