Monday, April 7, 2008

from The Hundred Wonders of the World, 1821

(page 419)

On the 4th of October of the above year, 1783, two meteors were seen in England. The first, at three in the morning, on account of the early hour, was witnessed by but few spectators, who represented it as rising from the north to a small altitude, and then becoming stationary with a vibratory motion, and an illumination like day-light: it vanished in a few moments, leaving a train behind. This sort of tremulous appearance has been noticed in other meteors, as well as their continuing stationary for some time, either before they begin to shoot, or after their course is ended.

The second of these meteors appeared at forty-three minutes past six in the evening, and was much smaller, and also of much shorter duration, than the one seen in August. It was first observed to the north, like a stream of fire, similar to that of the common shooting stars, but large; and having proceeded some distance under this form, suddenly burst out into that intensely bright blueish light, peculiar to such meteors, which may be most aptly compared to the blue lights of India, or to some of the largest electrical sparks. The illumination was very great; and on that part of its course where it had been so bright, a dusky red streak or train was left, which remained visible about a minute, and was thought by some gradually to change its form. Except this train, the meteor had not any tail, but was nearly of a round body, or, perhaps, somewhat elliptical. After moving not less than ten degrees in this bright state, it became suddenly extinct, without any appearance of bursting or explosion.

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