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Id 149
Date 1860-07-27
Location USA / New York / -city na
Database p meteor

"Double meteor" observed from different locations.

Transcription from the article:

Wonderful Meteoric Phenomenon.

On Friday evening last, about twenty minutes before
ten o'clock, one of the most remarkable phenomena
of the heavens that has occurred during the
present century, was witnessed by citizens of New
York, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, Norfolk
and other places near to those cities. All who witnessed
it represent it as two balls of fire passing
from west to east, occupying nearly a minute in the
circuit, and connected together by a brilliant red
and green-tinted spray of light, similar to that witnessed
at the explosion of a skyrocket. The two
balls were to the eye about four feet apart, and
moved so slowly and regularly together as to preclude
the possibility of their being meteors. The
Washington, New York and Philadelphia papers, all
contain notices of its appearance in those localities,
from which we make the following extracts:

As Seen in New York.

The New York Evening Post says:

It appeared at about ten o'clock over the upper
part of our city. The night was warm and close,
and the skies were occasionally illuminated by vivid
flashes of sheet lightning. The heat of the weather
had brought the great majority of our population to
their doors and windows, when suddenly, in a silence
more impressive than any thunder shock, a meteor
shot across the sky. Its brilliancy was so great
that people at once supposed there was a fire near
by; but, looking up, they saw two balls of flame
coursing across the sky from the northeast, and going
towards the southeast, like two chariots of fire
urging their way in some mysterious race over the
mighty course of the firmament. The motion was
majestic rather than rapid, and gave myraids [sic] of people
an opportunity of witnessing the sight, while
the apparent nearness of the flame to the earth
caused many to suppose at first that it was merely
a pyrotechnical display.

It presented different aspects at different times. -
When first seen it appeared like a blue star surrounded
by a thick mist coming from the west,
which, on nearing the zenith, changed to a red ball
of flame; this soon split, the two balls keeping near
together until lost in the distance. Some of those
who saw it thought it fell near Broadway and Fifteenth
street, while others traced it with the eye as
far as the East River, on its way horizontally over
the city. Of the size of these balls of fire it is impossible
to form any accurate estimate. They appeared
to be as large as a dinner plate, with trails
eight or ten feet in length; yet we learn this morning
that at very nearly the same time that our
observations were made, the meteor also passed
over Albany, while from various points along the
Hudson we have received information showing that
its orbit may have been, perhaps, of planetary dimensions,
and that it was much larger and much
higer [sic] than it seemed at the time to any who saw it.

As It Appeared in Philadelphia.

Last evening, about half past nine, a very extraordinary
meteor made its appearance in the Heavens.
The writer was riding in Broad street below the
city, and had a fair view of the phenomenon in its
whole course. It arose in the North-western part of
the Heavens, from a cloud which was not revealed
until the light of the meteor made it visible. Then
an object about the size of the full moon, and as
bright, suddenly started from the cloud, traversed
in a direct Easterly line the whole extent of visible
space, dropping fire, apparently, in its course, like
a rocket, till it passed so far Eastward as to resemble
a red ball about twice the size of the planet
Mars, visible in the South-east. So soon as it disapppeared,
a flash like heat lightning revealed a cloud to
the Eastward, low down in the horizon, which continued
to emit flashes of light for half-an-hour afterwards.
The phenomenon at one time seemed to
separate like a rocket when it bursts, but the larger
portion keeping in a straight course towards the
eastward. It was witnessed by many persons, and
caused considerable wonderment for the time, and
was certainly the most extraordinary appearance
that we ever saw in the Heavens. Its motion was
not so fast, apparently, as that of a rocket, though
its height and the vast extent of space that it traversed,
proved that its velocity must have exceeded
that produced by any known force which we are acquainted
with. The phenomenon, from all appearances,
must have been electrical.

As It Appeared at Washington.

A correspondent of the Washington Star says:

At half past nine last night a meteor appeared in
the Northeast, at an elevation of about ten degrees
above the horizon. It moved through a descending
path to the East Northeast, and faded away in the
clouds. It consisted of two bodies, each as bright
as Venus when close to the earth. One followed the
other so closely as to make them appear like an immense
chain-shot. It lasted about 30 seconds, and
was seen by five or six others at the same time,
each one remarking its being divided into two parts.

As It Appeared at Norfolk.

The Norfolk Day Book, of Saturday, says:

Last night about half-past ten o'clock, we witnessed
one of the most strange and beautiful displays
of the meteor kind that has ever come under
our observation; and though it is difficult to describe,
we attempt it. In shape, the meteor resembled two
dumb bells and were of exceeding brillancy, and
starting from a North-west direction, continued at
an incomprehensible speed towards the East, in the
course, dropping one by one of the balls of the
imaginary bells, until nothing was left but a mere
speck, which quickly disppeared from view. We
make no pretensions to astronomical lore, and therefore
hazard no explanation of this singular phenomena [sic].
We noticed also that in the direction from
which the meteor started a formidable looking cloud
had banked up, which immediately dispersed when
the meteor left its vicinity.


NEWSPAPER Weekly Standard (Raleigh, North Carolina, USA)





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