Le phénomène météoritique

Press de Philadelphie,
s1Guenther, Daniel: "1860: The Meteoric Phenomenon", Magonia Exchange, 11 août 2007
L'article d'origine
L'article d'origine

Le Herald de New York, en publiant un certain nombre de récits de journaux et correspondants du phénomène météorique qui eut lieu la nuit de vendredi, et qui fut noté dans le Press de samedi, publie les intéressantes remarques éditoriales suivantes :

"Vers 21 h 45 vendredi soir, l'atmosphère devenant particulièrement étouffante, et aucun mouvement n'étant perceptible dans les airs, un nuage de lumière apparut à l'ouest, d'où un globe lumineux de teinte bleue dévala, qui au premier regard suggéra aux spectateurs l'idée d'un feu d'artifice artificiel. Instantanément il perdit sa forme globulaire, éclatant, comme une immense fusée dans le ciel, en 4 portions. Le 2 premières sont présentées par 1 de nos correspondants comme ressemblant à de brillants chandeliers illuminés, avec d'innombrables jets de flammes pourpres ; les autres étaient globulaires et comparativement petits, semblant plutôt comme les queues du 1er. Ils maintenaient leurs distances relatives alors qu'ils volaient athwart le ciel d'ouest en est, occupant dans leur vol quelque chose comme 1 mn. Qu'ils aient disparu dans les airs ou soient tombés au sol ou dans la mer est un fait qui reste à encore à s'assurer. Environ 1 mn après leur passage une détonation fut entendue, comme from a piece of ordnance ; but whether it preceeded from the bursting of the meteor is a matter or conjecture.

"One very curious optical delusion which it gave rise to is worthy of remark. To the spectators it appeared to be no higher than from a quarter to half a mile, and to be almost directly over their heads, and yet, when the fact is considered that it was witnessed under almost identical circumstances at Philadelphia, some ninety miles south west of New York ; at New Haven, eighty miles east ; at Barneget, forty miles south, and at Newburg, on the Hudeon, sixty miles north, it will be perceived that the idea of its insignificant elevation was most delusive. It must have been at an immense elevation to have been seen at these widely remote points, and to have presented at all of them the same appearance of being so nearly in the zenith.

"It is also to be remained in connection with the meteor, that for the previous two or three nights brilliant flashes of the aurora borealis have illuminated the northern skies?a most unusual display in the dog-days, and one which we only look for in the late fall and winter months. The aurora is generally supposed to indicate clear cold weather, but in this case it has been followed by an oppressively sulture chateredfs dfdf atmosphere, thus contradicting our previously conceived notions. It is also very closely connected in point of time with the solar eclipse, which took place last Wednesday morning.

"Meteors, lile comets and eclipses, have been, from the remotest antiquity, regarded as portentous omens. It is hard to get rid of such superstitions ideas. Even in modern times, and notwithstanding the flood of light thrown by scientific men upon all natural phenomena, people cannot entirely divert themselves of this fooling. In the poem describing the downfall of Poland, it is related that on that terrible night of carnage when Kosolu-ke fell,

'Farth shook, red meteors flashed along the sky,
And curious nature shuddered at the ery.'

"To many the meteor of Friday night recalled the memory of that summer night, twenty-eight years ago, when the remarkable meteoric display, known as the shower of stars, tank pisce, and which preceded, if it did not introduce, that terrible plague, the Asiatic cholera. There may be reason for supposing that those disturbances of the atmosphere, which produce meteoric displays may affect more or less the elements which sustain animal life ; but human knowledge is so limited in that regard, and speculations on such subjects are so often found destitute of foundation, that all such apprehensions may safely be dismissed, and that those who saw this magnificent display of celestial fireworks may, without any alarm, felicitate themselves on having witnessed the most sublime spectacle of the century."