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Meteor Day

Johann Esaias Silberschlag, Theorie der am 23 Juli, 1762, erschienen Feuer-Kugel (Theory on the July 23, 1762, appearance of a fireball)Johann Esaias Silberschlag, Theorie der am 23 Juli, 1762, erschienen Feuer-Kugel (Theory on the July 23, 1762, appearance of a fireball)

Tonight might be a good night to get away from the bright lights of the big (or small) city and take a long look up—you never know what the skies might offer . . .

—Elizabeth Periale

One Comment

  1. George John Drobnock

    RE: Texas State astronomers solve Walt Whitman meteor mystery
    As a reference to the July 2010 “Sky and Telescope” publication of
    Texas State physics professors Donald Olson and Russell Doescher,
    English professor Marilynn S. Olson and Honors Program student Ava G.
    Pope work publish on the “Year or Meteors 1859-1860” and the Church
    painting. I am obligated to point out that at the International Meteor Conference in Slovakia in 2008 September, a poster session was presented where the Walt Whitman “Year of the Meteors” poem was addressed and the implication of the poem to both meteor science and Whitman’s interest in human nature and pre-American civil war period commentary on natural and cultural events.
    Prior to the IMO conference a CD of articles was prepared (available
    through the IMO, see their web site if interested,) including the
    article “Meteor Beliefs Project: Year of Meteors” edited for the co-authors and contributors to the IMC 2008 MBP, by Alastair McBeath & Andrei Dorian Gheorghe, Project Coordinators (2008 June 15).
    The article in the IMO publication about the 1859-1860 meteor out
    break, pointed out that between 15 November 1859 to 2 August 1860
    there were four notable fireball events reported in popular press.
    The event of bright fireballs was world wide, and that the Comet mentioned in the poem, was Comet C/1860 M1 (III) . The other review of literature of interest was an article in “Scientific American” of the period entitled the “Year of Meteors”.
    The initial article (September 2008) was followed by a related article for John Brown’s Anniversary on the raid on Harpers Ferry and his death in December 1859. The Whitman Poem identifies John Brown as a meteoric figure (WGN December 2009, pp191-194).
    As Alastair, Andrei, and I tried to identify the social effect of the 1859-1860 meteors display, with meteor metaphors appearing in
    commerce and the identification of villains and heroes. I found this
    contemporary passage for Church, “Church’s meteoric rise in the
    1840’s and 1850’s, as one critic has said, was fueled by the tumult of the times. ….”. And indeed the period of the poem and painting were presented was fluid and dynamic.
    The event observed by Church, Whitman, and others was more than just a local event observed by artist on the July 20th, 1860. Newspapers and related journals, found the event to be spectacular. Even medical journals. From the “American Medical Times” this was located, Vol 1, page 72, July 26, 1860. “Remarks on the Weather (from New York City) ,” (July) 20 Clear and Hot. A brilliant planetary Meteor Crosses the horizon from west to east at a great altitude at 9 1/4 P.M.”
    With the information available beginning in 1859 to the end of 1860,
    the earth’s orbit passed through a series of cosmic dust trails
    (possibly the 1860 Comment), as the year of meteors was observed through out the world. A publication by Heis and Neumayer (1867), ( On meteors in the southern hemisphere) discuss a series of fireball (circa 1860) observed from Southern Hemisphere. An illustration by Lydwig Becker from Australia, October 1860 shows a bright fireball over the landscape, as Church.
    An opinion shared with Alastair, the 1859-1860 event was the
    threshold for scientist and others to begin studying meteors as a
    discipline of astronomy. I know 1833 Leonid outbreak was an event
    that began some scientist of the period to rethink meteors, not as water vapours, or volcanic rock from earth but from outside the earth. A review of literature after the 1859-1860 event, finds more observational logs and publications beginning to be focused on the study of meteor and meteorites. The event of 1859-1860 was the beginning of the acceptance of meteor observations.
    Thank you for your time.
    George John Drobnock
    On behalf of Alastiar McBeath (Alastair McBeath
    ), Andrei Dorian Gheorghe (Andrei Dorian Gheorghe ), and the International Meteor Organization publication the WGN (editor – Javor Kac )

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