Sunday, March 23, 2008

from St. James Magazine, 1863

(page 159)

But one of the most startling instances ever witnessed was doubtless that seen by Admiral Sabine and Captain James Ross, in their first northern expedition. Being in the Greenland seas during the period of darkness, they were called up on deck by the officers to observe an extraordinary appearance. Ahead of the vessel, and lying precisely in her course, appeared a stationary light resting on the water, and rising to a considerable elevation. Every part of the heavens, and the horizon all round the ship, were in utter darkness. As there was no known danger in this phenomenon, the course of the vessel was not altered, and when the ship entered the region of this light, the officers and crew looked on with the liveliest interest; the whole vessel was illuminated; the loftiest parts of the masts and sails, as well as the minutest portions of the rigging, became visible. The extent of this luminous atmosphere was about four hundred and fifty yards. When the bow of the ship emerged from it, it seemed as if the vessel were plunged in darkness. There was no gradual decrease of illumination; the ship was already at a considerable distance from the luminous region, when it appeared still visible as a stationary light astern.

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