Friday, April 11, 2008

from Report of the 41st Meeting of the British Assn. for the Advancement of Science, 1871

(page 31)

Extraordinary Meteor—The following account of an extraordinary meteor occurs in a letter I received from a brother who is a missionary stationed in Agra. He does not give the exact place where he was at the time, but it must have been very near to Agra. The letter is dated Agra, 24th November, 1870. A missionary from Allahabad was with him when he saw it. —Mills Hill, Chadderston, near Manchester. Robert Gryson.

Agra, Nov. 24, 1870—I recently saw a marvellous meteor. I was in camp, and had risen for an early march a few minutes before 3 a.m. on November 4th. I was standing under the shade of a cluster of trees, when a sudden flash of light fell around. Two or three camp fires were blazing near, and at first I thought it might be a sudden flare up from one of them; but on casting my eyes up towards the heavens, I saw a large oval light, stationary. It appeared to be composed of a large number of irregularly shaped, differently sized stars, yet so closely packed as to form one light, yet giving the whole a sort of dappled appearance. At first I was struck dumb with amazement—thought it must be some mental illusion, or that my eyes were playing me false. But as I gazed it remained steadily fixed. _______, of Allahabad, was with me. I roused him; he was soundly asleep, and some seconds passed in waking him up. In the interval it appeared to have been lengthened, nearly, though not quite, by a straight line, and as we gazed it assumed the shape of a large magnet, with the upper limb rather shorter than the other. It then gradually expanded, diminishing in brightness as it increased in size, assuming a wavy, serpentine form, though keeping much to a horseshoe shape, until it became so attenuated as to be no longer visible. It must have continued in sight five minutes. It was seen by all the servants; and one of them cried out, "Bhagwauka seela hae," by which he appeared to mean that in his opinion the Almighty was amusing Himself with fireworks; literally, "It is God's sport or amusement." (Nature, Jan. 12th, 1871)

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