Saturday Scenes

Thu 14 February 2013

Illuminated Airships of Monstrous Size

Filed under: #satscene —— Sylvia @ 21:29

On the 9th of Feb in 1913, there was a meteor procession which drew the attention of a broad swathe of sky watchers in Canada, Northeastern USA, Bermuda and several ships in at sea. Forty to sixty bright, slow-moving fireballs appeared to move from horizon to horizon. A meteor procession is when an “Earth-grazing meteor” breaks apart, the fragments travelling across the sky in the same path. There have been a total of four scientifically observed since then. In 1913, the scientific observations were limited to eye-witness accounts, which offered some interesting details:

Condon Report, Sec VI, Chap 2 — Perception, Conception, Reporting

Consider these reports: (1) “The series of lights traveled in unison and so horizontal that I could think only of a giant flying machine. The lights were at different points, one in front, one further back, and a rear light, then a succession of small lights in the tail.” (2) “They … did not seem to be falling as meteors usually do, but kept a straight course … above the horizon. Our first impression was that a fleet of illuminated airships of monstrous size [was] passing. The incandescent fragments themselves formed what to us looked like the illuminations while the tails seemed to make the frame of the machine. They looked like ships travelling in company.” (3) “The meteor resembled a large aeroplane or dirigible, with two tiers of lights strung along the sides.” (4) The witnesses “reported that they had seen an airship going east. The heavens were brilliantly illuminated, and with the passage of the meteors a shower of stones was seen to fall.” (This last element is not mentioned elsewhere and appears to be spurious.) (5) “I took it for an aeroplane with both headlights lit, and as it came nearer the sparks falling behind it made it appear still more like one. However after a minute or a minute and a half I could see it was a meteor … It was very low, apparently just above the hills. (6) “My brother shouted to me, ‘An airship! And I said, ‘Mrs. M— ‘s chimney is on fire! It looked that near … To the eye they were little above the housetops.” (7) ” … a voice from a group of men was heard to say: ‘Oh, boys, I’ll tell you what it is – an aeroplane race.'”

Wonderfully romantic descriptions, don’t you think?

One hundred years later, on the 9th of Feb in 2013, everyone on Twitter was star-struck by these photographs (especially this week’s on-topic photo from Cwmbran!):

And here are the fireballs who took them:

Would you like to add your photo? It’s simple to join in:

  1. Take a photograph on a Saturday
  2. Upload the photograph
  3. Send a tweet to @SatScenes with the location

We’d all love to see even more SatScenes in the next edition!

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