Monday, March 24, 2008

from The Monthly Anthology and Boston Review, 1808

(page 301)

The meteor seen by Balbi, in 1719, at Bologna, Italy, of the apparent size of the full moon and of the colour of burning camphor, was much larger, and spread a brightness, equal to that of the rising sun, so as to render visible the smallest objects lying on the ground. It had four holes from which smoke issued; many little flames also rose from it, and its tail was longer than seven of its diameters. Upon a comparison of its apparent altitude, as seen from different places, its elevation from the earth must have been not less than 16,000, nor more than 20,000 paces, which makes its diameter 3,560 feet. In the quarters, over which it passed, it left a strong sulphureous smell, and it exploded with noise.

Similar effects attended one seen April 8, 1676, by Monterchi, though its height was less considerable, since a noise was heard from its tail, like that from red-hot iron passing through cold water, and it is even said to have burned the branches of trees.

But, in truth, these meteors are not always very high, for that which was seen in 1749, in the middle of the ocean, ran above the surface of the water, towards a vessel, and burst at the distance of 40 or 50 ells from it, with a noise like that of 100 pieces of ordnance, and with so strong a smell of sulphur, that the vessel seemed enveloped with it.

The explosion of all of them is commonly equal to that of great guns. That on February 9, 1750, at Brewslaw, was not only accompanied with such a noise, but was remarkable for turning round on its axis.

No comments: