Sunday, September 4, 2011

1880 Meteor

A most beautiful scene in the shape of a meteor was witnessed in this village on Saturday evening last, and we observe from exchanges there were also witnesses in other parts of the state. It was seen by a party of excursionists on Detroit river and is thus described by one of its number:

"The western heavens were suddenly lighted, and the whole of that quarter was, for a moment, so filled with a bluish, white light, that it would have been possible, on the steamer's hurricane-deck, to read ordinary print. All eyes were turned toward the west. Sailing about 30 or 35 degrees above the horizon was a brilliant object, bearing every appearance of a monster rocket. Its course was from south to north in a semi-circular direction, apparently starting at a point some 20 or 25 degrees above the horizon, and descending to about the same relative point. At its lowest point in the north, the body of light exploded. Then followed the most remarkable part of the display. In passing through the air, the meteor had left a semi-circular track. The line of light remained across the sky till the boat had passed theh for, or at least twenty-five or thirty minutes. When first seen, the meteor appeared to be but a few yards from the boat, but the train of light seemed just as far away at the last as at the first, showing that the distance between the observer and the meteor must have been very great."

Two things came to mind as I read this article published in the local newspaper.

1) How exciting this must have been to have seen this, and

2) Curiously, that the word "rocket" was used in the description. In our modern-day thinking, "rocket" must mean something entirely different than in 1880. Hot air balloons may have been around, but anything else?

No comments: