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Solar Halo

Nature volume 5, pages 8182 | Download Citation



THE following description and drawing of a solar halo and mock suns seen on the morning of the 13th inst., by the Rev. J. A. Lawson, at Brancepeth, near Durham, is so perfectly similar to its appearance as drawn and described to me by another observer at Woodburn, at the same hour on the same morning, about twenty-miles north-west from Newcastle, and about thirty miles from Durham, that its unusually bright appearance near Durham may not impossibly correspond with equally favourable views of it obtained by observers at more distant places. The sky, which remained clear during the day, clouded over towards midnight on the 13th, and the stars were completely hidden during the remainder of the night. A slight rain, which began in the morning, also continued to fall during the day of the 14th, and the sky here remained entirely overcast on that evening until after midnight. Shortly before four o'clock on the morning of the 15th the clouds cleared off, and the appearance of several meteors, one of which was as bright as Jupiter, gave evident signs of the progress of the November star-shower. The perfect clearness and darkness of the sky, in the absence of the moon, at the same time gave especial brightness to the meteors and to their phosphorescent streaks. Between four o'clock and the first approach of daylight, at six o'clock, thirty-two meteors were counted, or at the rate of sixteen per hour, of which three were as bright, or brighter, than first magnitude stars, nine as bright as second, six as bright as third, and eight no brighter than stars of the fourth or lesser magnitudes. Twenty-six of these meteors were directed from the usual radiant point in Leo, which on this occasion, although not very well defined, appeared to be approximately close to the star Zeta, in Leo's sickle. About one half of their number left persistent streaks, which sometimes appeared to grow brighter after the meteors had disappeared, and I vainly endeavoured to bring them into the field of view of the direct-viston prisms of a small spectroscope, the duration of the brightest streaks noted scarcely ever exceeding one or two seconds. A very brilliant meteor, casting around a flash like that of lightning, was seen here shortly after nine o'clock on the evening of the 13th (and its appearance was also noted at Woodburn), traversing the north-west sky. The e particulars, imperfect as they were, unfortunately, rendered by the cloudy weather, are the only descriptions of the November star-shower which its appearance here has hitherto enabled me to supply.

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  1. Newcastle-on-Tyne, Nov. 17

  2. Brancepeth, Durham, Nov. 13


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