Friday, January 27, 2012
... quoting from our own Journal, Dr. Tripe reported that in 1874, in a fearful storm of hail, rain, wind and lightning, he saw a large ball of fire rise apparently about a mile distant from him from behind some low houses. The ball at first rose slowly, but moved quicker as it ascended; when at about 45°, it started off at an acute angle from south to west with such great rapidity as to produce the appearance of forked lightning; it made three zigzags before entering a dark cloud.
Monday, January 23, 2012
Of a very remarkable meteor seen at Oxford by the Rev. John Swinton, B.D., F.R.S.
The person who first saw the very remarkable luminous appearances in the air here, on Tuesday, Oct. 24, 1769, was the Rev. Mr. Cleaver, student of Christ-church; who, on his return home, at a village called Horton, 6 or 7 miles from Oxford, about 7h 15m p.m. observed, with some degree of astonishment, a dark fuscous vapour, resembling a blackish cloud, contigous to the northern horizon. Out of this vapour there issued another of a flame colour, in the N.N.W. His account of it was, that "it looked like a house, or building, set on fire."
Portion of a letter from Mr. Aepinus, Counsellor of State, in Russia, to Mr. Pallas, Counsellor of the Imperial College at St. Petersburgh, in consequence of the communication relative to a volcano in the moon discovered by Mr. Herschell, F.R.S., made to the Imperial Academy of Sciences, by Mr. De Magellan, member of the same Academy, May 4, 1783.
Nothing could have given me greater pleasure than the communication which I received from you respecting Mr. Herschell's discovery of a volcano burning in the moon. However interesting this observation may be to every lover of natural philosophy, it affects me still more particularly, as the fact when confirmed will demonstrate the truth of my Conjectures concerning the Volcanic Origin of the Inequalities in the Moon's Surface, which conjectures were formed in the year 1778, and published in a memo printed at Berlin in the year 1782.
(Footnote to letter referencing luminous spot on the moon ...)
† It was on the 11th of October, 1772, when the nephew of the late Professor Beccaria discovered a luminous spot on the moon during its total eclipse of that night; the professor having left his nephew and his sister at this own electrical observatory in Cartegna, where he intended to observe that eclipse, but was prevented, by receiving notice of the arrival of M. de Sauffure at Mondavi, where the professor went immediately to meet that philosopher, leaving his nephew with a small achromatic telescope of Dollond, with proper instructions to make the observation of that eclipse. Both the nephew and his sister did clearly distinguish a luminous spot in or near the place marked Copernicus on the moon's maps; and henceforth Professor Beccaria mentioned this observation in his public lectures of natural philosophy, to show that the round cavities of the moon's surfaces were as many craters of extinct volcanos.
... The reader may see this account given by the professor himself, in a letter directed to the Princess Josephina de Savoy-Carignan, where he delivers his opinion concerning that luminous appearance observed by Don Ulloa on the moon, during the total eclipse of the sun on the 24th of June, 1778, contending that such a luminous spot was a volcano actually burning, and not a real hole through the mass of the moon, as Don Ulloa had assumed to be the case.
... But it deserves to be remarked, that the two volcanos observed by Don Ulloa, and by the nephew of Professora Beccaria, must have been of an amazing size, both being discernible by small telescopes.
On the 15th of May, at half past eight o'clock in the evening, a luminous meteor was seen at Paris: the sky was serene and the atmosphere was very calm. This meteor, which appeared to be at a considerable height, lasted several minutes. It balanced itself in all directions in the air, and at length exploded, without any report or detonation. Nothing more than a smoke of vapour was perceived, which afterwards formed a cloud.
It was seen also at Augsburgh, at 37 minutes past 8 o'clock in the evening, at which time an indistinct noise was heard, which issued from a small black cloud, thick, globe-shaped, about half the diameter of the moon, and westward of a large stormy cloud. This globe divided itself at the height of an angle of 7 degrees 40 minutes; and was instantly followed by a luminous zig-zag in a southerly direction; another zig-zag still larger succeeded to the former, and pointing vertically, then rapidly to the north under an angle of 2 degrees 30 minutes, but the light of this was paler than that of the former. It again resumed a vertical direction, and returned to the southward under an angle of 2 degrees, but very obscure.
A black vapour seemed to issue from the globe and to lose itself in the atmosphere.
On the same day, at a quarter past 3 o'clock in the evening, the same meteor phenomenon was observed at Lansanne, in the north-west region of the heavens. The weather was calm and serene. It was a kind of water spout, formed apparently of a thin cloud completely resplendent with light, the base of it something larger than the top, the whole length occupying a space of about 30 degrees. Its direction was at first vertical, but it afterwards bent itself insensibly into the figure of an S. This meteor rested perfectly stationary without any visible progressive motion, and without any perceptible noise whatsoever. It disappeared after having lasted about a quarter of an hour.
XI. On the Remarkable Meteor seen Aug. 18, 1783. By Wm. Cooper, D.D., F.R.S., Archdeacon of York. p. 116
No person, says Dr. C., could have a better opportunity of discerning this awful meteor than myself. The weather being, for this climate, astonishingly hot, by Fahrenheit's thermometer, on a north position, and in the open air, having for several days preceding graduated between the hours of 10 in the morning and 7 in the evening from 74° to 82°, I set out on a journey to the sea side. The weather was sultry, the atmosphere hazy, and not a breath of air stirring.
Towards 9 at night it was so dark, that I could scarcely discern the hedges, road, or even the horses' heads. As we proceeded, I observed to my attendants, that there was something singularly striking in the appearance of the night, not merely from its stillness and darkness, but from the sulphureous vapours which seemed to surround us on every side. In the midst of this gloom, and on an instant, a brilliant tremulous light appeared to the N.W. by N. At first it seemed stationary; but in a short time it burst from its position and took its course to the S.E. by E. It passed directly over our heads with a buzzing noise, seemingly at the height of 60 yards. Its tail, as far as the eye could form any judgment, was about 8 or 10 yards in length. At last, this wonderful meteor divided into several glowing parts or balls of fire, the chief part still remaining in its full splendour.
Soon after this I heard two great explosions, each equal to the report of a cannon carrying a 9 lb. ball. During its progress, the whole of the atmosphere, as far as I could discern, was perfectly illuminated with the most beautifully vivid light I ever remember to have seen. The horses on which we rode shrunk with fear; and some people whom we met on the road declared their consternation in the most expressive terms.