Sunday, March 23, 2008

from A Journal of Natural Philosophy, Chemistry and the Arts, 1808

(page 85)

As Mr. Nicholson, teacher of mathematics at Wakefield in Yorkshire, was returning on horseback on the 1st of March, 1774, from Crofton, a village near Wakefield, he saw a storm approaching in the north-west quarter, from which the wind sat. It was then about half past six in the evening, and the weather was so dark and overcast, that it was with difficulty he could find his way. When the storm began, he was agreeably surprised to observe a flame of light dancing on each ear of his horse, and several others on the end of his stick, which had a brass ferule notched with using. These appearances continued till he took shelter in a turnpike-house.

After having continued about twenty minutes the storm abated, and the clouds divided, leaving the northern region very clear; except, that about ten degrees high there was a thick cloud, which seemed to throw out large and exceedingly beautiful streams of light, resembling an aurora borealis, towards another cloud that was passing over it; and every now and then there appeared to fall to it such meteors as are called falling stars. These appearances continued till he came to Wakefield, but no thunder was heard.

About nine o'clock a large ball of fire passed under the zenith, towards the south-east part of the horizon; and Mr. Nicholson was informed, that a light was observed on the weathercock of Wakefield spire, which is about 240 feet high, all the time the storm continued.

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