Letter | Published:

The Aurora Borealis of Nov. 9 and 10

Nature volume 5, page 44 | Download Citation



THERE was a brilliant display of Aurora Borealis here on the evenings of Thursday and Friday, November 9 and 10— especially the latter night. Towards 7 o'clock a hazy light began to spread itself over the northern sky, near the horizon, not unlike a brilliant twilight. At 8 P.M. two arches were quite distinct, the upper one being well defined, with its apex passing through the head of Ursa Major. Gradually streamers began to pass from this, and by 9h. 15m. the scene was simply gorgeous. I do not remember ever seeing the streamers so expanded—more like flames, nor possessing such intense whiteness, so much so, that the evening was almost as light as if the moon had been shining. After proceeding from the upper arch, their course was most rapid to the zenith—apparently passing at times behind clouds, then suddenly emerging—where a magnificent whirling motion was formed, which kept changing in true Protean fashion. A grand, though somewhat dingy, red haze next appeared in the west, which gradually ascended towards the zenith, when it disappeared. Meanwhile flashes of light, resembling summer lightning, darted upwards from about 45° from all directions, and not least from the south—the N.W. heavens assuming a muddy green colour. About a quarter-past ten P.M. the aurora gradually diminished, especially the upper arch, and streamers from it. Then the lower arch began to give off streamers, but these were short and of short duration, though of considerable brightness. The display of Friday, if it fell short of those of October 23 and 24, 1870, in point of brilliant colours, surpassed them in some respects — e.g. extent of streamers, and brilliancy of light. Barometer corrected and reduced 29.472: Temperature 32°.

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  1. Blencowe School, Cumberland



  1. Search for THOMAS FAWCETT in:

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