Anniversary of mysterious parade of meteors | EarthSky.org

Night sky over dark landscape with flaming spots at equal intervals in front of Orion.

Canadian artist Gustav Hahn painted his impression of what the 1913 Nice Meteor Procession seemed like. Picture by way of Gustav Hahn/ Wikimedia Commons.

In the present day in science: February 9, 1913. An odd and still-unexplained parade of meteors on this date dazzled viewers in Canada, the northeastern United States, and ships within the Atlantic all the way in which all the way down to Brazil. The occasion is often identified by the title the Nice Meteor Procession of 1913, and after greater than a century, its origins are nonetheless unknown.

This procession of meteors was in contrast to other meteor events, the place zippy streaks of sunshine all radiate outward from a single level. The February 9, 1913, meteors appeared to cross the sky in formation, on almost similar paths. Their tempo throughout the sky was described as stately and measured.

One other distinction between your common meteor and the 1913 procession was that standard meteors are likely to plunge into Earth’s environment and vaporize attributable to friction with the air. Meteors in annual showers final solely seconds. The 1913 meteors appeared to journey virtually horizontally, almost parallel to the Earth’s floor, and thus they remained seen to a single observer for a couple of minute, and your complete procession took a number of minutes to move by.

Plus, rumblings and different unusual sounds had been reported, suggesting the 1913 meteors may have been comparatively near Earth once they disintegrated.

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Some astronomers later concluded that – as a result of all sightings of the meteor procession occurred alongside a nice circle arc – the supply had been a small, short-lived pure satellite tv for pc of Earth – a temporary second moon. Different theories tried to show there was a radiant level for this bathe, simply as for any atypical meteor bathe.

The densely populated northeastern United States was cloudy on the night of February 9, 1913. So 30 million potential observers had been for essentially the most half unaware of the phenomenon. A 1913 report within the Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada by Clarence Chant, who collected over 100 eyewitness experiences of the occasion, described the scene like this:

An enormous meteor appeared touring from northwest by west to southeast, which, because it approached, was seen to be in two elements and seemed like two bars of flaming materials, one following the opposite. They had been throwing out a relentless stream of sparks and after that they had handed they shot out balls of fireplace straight forward that travelled extra quickly than the primary our bodies. They appeared to move over slowly and had been in sight about 5 minutes. Instantly after their disappearance within the southeast a ball of clear fireplace, that seemed like an enormous star, handed throughout the sky of their wake. This ball didn’t have a tail or present sparks of any type. As an alternative of being yellow just like the meteors, it was clear like a star.

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Part of globe with red dots along a great circle line from Yukon to South Atlantic.

The crimson dots mark noticed areas of the Nice Meteor Procession of 1913. View larger. Map by way of Sky & Telescope/ Texas State University.

Don Olson of Texas State College and Steve Hutcheon of the Astronomical Affiliation of Queensland, Australia, have studied this phenomenon. Sifting via an unlimited array of archival materials, the group found seven ship’s experiences, all beforehand unknown, extending the established monitor of the procession by an extra thousand miles. They reported their leads to a 2013 difficulty of Sky & Telescope journal. Read more about Olson and Hutcheon’s findings here.

In the meantime, the precise origin of the meteors within the 1913 meteor procession could by no means be identified for certain.

Backside line: On February 9, 1913, fortunate observers witnessed the Nice Meteor Procession, when shiny meteors soared horizontally throughout the sky in a stately marching rank for minutes at a time.

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Deborah Byrd

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