- Note to visitors to our website: The
following letter was the first of several letters and articles to appear
in "The Times" (London), which describe the highly unusual meteorological
events, and magnetic anomaly, that were observed not only over England,
but over all of Western Europe, as well.
- Some of the readers may quickly grasp
a possible explanation for the cause of the strange events. Others will
find a statement at the end of the third article, which discusses the possible
cause of the effects. The following article appeared in "The Times"
(London) on Wednesday, July 01, 1908.
- "Curious Sun Effects At Night"
"To the Editor of the Times."
- "Sir,--Struck with the unusual brightness
of the heavens, the band of golfers staying here strolled towards the links
at 11 o'clock last evening in order that they might obtain an uninterrupted
view of the phenomenon. Looking northwards across the sea they found that
the sky had the appearance of a dying sunset of exquisite beauty. This
not only lasted but actually grew both in extent and intensity till 2:30
this morning, when driving clouds from the East obliterated the gorgeous
colouring. I myself was aroused from sleep at 1:15, and so strong was
the light at this hour that I could read a book by it in my chamber quite
comfortably. At 1:45 the whole sky, N. and N.-E., was a delicate salmon
pink, and the birds began their matutinal song. No doubt others will have
noticed this phenomenon, but as Brancaster holds an almost unique position
in facing north to the sea, we who are staying here had the best possible
view of it.
- Yours faithfully, Holcombe Ingleby.
Dormy House Club,
Brancaster, July 1" (1908)
- The following article was published on
the following day, Thursday, July 2, 1908, in "The Times" (London):
- "The Aurora Borealis."
- The Aurora Borealis was very brilliant
again last night. In the higher points in the suburbs from which London
can be seen the sight was most unusual. All the outstanding features of
the metropolis were silhouetted. Many people were in the suburban roads
viewing the sight."
- "TO THE EDITOR OF THE TIMES."
- "Sir,--I should be interested in
hearing whether others of your readers observed the strange light in the
sky which was seen here last night by my sister and myself. I do not know
when it first appeared; we saw it between 12 o'clock (midnight) and 12:15
a.m. It was in the northeast and of a bright flame-colour like the light
of sunrise or sunset. The sky, for some distance above the light, which
appeared to be on the horizon, was blue as in the daytime, with bands of
light cloud of a pinkish colour floating across it at intervals. Only
the brightest stars could be seen in any part of the sky, though it was
an almost cloudless night. It was possible to read large print indoors,
and the hands of the clock in my room were quite distinct. An hour later,
at about 1:30 a.m., the room was quite light, as if it had been day; the
light in the sky was then more dispersed and was a fainter yellow. The
whole effect was that of a night in Norway at about this time of year.
I am in the habit of watching the sky, and have noticed the amount of
light indoors at different hours of the night several times in the last
fortnight. I have never at any time seen anything the least like this
in England, and it would be interesting if any one would explain the cause
of so unusual a sight. Yours faithfully, Katharine Stephen. Godmanchester,
Huntingdon, July 1."
- The third article appeared in The Times
(London) on Saturday, July 4, 1908. An interesting aspect of the article
is shown in red.
- "The Recent Nocturnal Glows"
- "The remarkable ruddy glows which
have been seen on many nights lately have attracted much attention, and
have been seen over an area extending as far as Berlin. There is considerable
difference of opinion as to their nature. Some hold that they are auroral;
their colour is quite consistent with this view, and there is also the
fact that Professor Fowler, of South Kensington, predicted auroral displays
at this time from his observations, which showed great disturbances in
the sun's prominences. These violent disturbances in the prominences were
also described by Mr. Newbegin at the meeting of the British Astronomical
Association last Wednesday, the latest disturbance noted being on the morning
of that day.
- There was a slight, but plainly marked
disturbance of the magnets on Tuesday night, and this materially strengthened
the auroral theory, as the two phenomena are very closely correlated.
However, this was shaken on the following night, when the glow was quite
as strong, but the magnets were exceptionally quiet. This convinced many,
who had before been inclined to the auroral theory, that the phenomenon
was simply an abnormal twilight glow; this is supported by the fact that
nearly all the observers agree that the glow was vertically above the position
of the sun, and moved with it from north-west to north-east during the
night; a further argument is that the glow was always near the horizon,
whereas aurorae may be seen in any part of the sky.
- It is well known that there is some twilight
so long as the sun's depression below the horizon does not exceed 18-deg.;
in other words, we have no real night in London when the sun is more that
20-deg. North of the equator, or from May 23 to July 21. It is only necessary
to suppose that some temporary condition of the atmosphere made this twilight
much brighter and redder than usual.
- We may recall the circumstances of the
wonderful glows which were seen in this country in the autumn of 1883,
and which were due to the dust scattered in the upper atmosphere by the
terrific outburst at Krakatoa at the end of August. Those glows had many
points in common with the recent ones; (1) the deep, lurid colour, suggesting
a distant conflagration many were for some time doubtful whether Tuesday's
glow was not due to this cause) (sic); (2) both glows were seen at a much
longer interval after sunset than ordinary sunset glows, and the latter
had already faded before the abnormal glow began. This indicated an extraordinary
height for the dust causing the glow, and consequently the extreme fineness
of the latter; by charting the places and dates of first visibility of
the glows in 1883, it was found that the dust was carried westward by a
previously unknown upper current at a speed of 80 miles an hour; it did
not reach the British Isles till its third circuit of the globe, each circuit
having a wider range in latitude. We thus see that distance is no obstacle
in vast cosmical phenomena of this kind, which are absolutely world-embracing.
- No volcanic outburst of abnormal violence
has been reported lately; there have, however, been some moderate outbursts
in the Pacific during the spring, and it is possible that the dust may
have reached us from these, or from some unreported eruption in some little-known
region of the world."
- The curious meteorological effects may
have been the result of the mysterious explosion, which occurred over the
Tunguska Region of Russia, approximately 600 miles to the northwest of
the northern tip of Lake Baikal in Siberia, at 0717 hrs. (local time) on
June 30, 1908. If so, the effects, documented in the news articles, must
have been visible over Europe, many thousands of miles to the west of the
epicenter of the blast, within a very short period of time.
- Question 1: If the meteorological effects
were, in fact, caused by the explosion at Tunguska in the heart of Siberia,
how could the dust cloud generated by the explosion, and the one presumed
by the writers to have been the cause of the meteorological anomalies,
have reached Europe, apparently within hours, or perhaps even minutes?
- Question 2: Moreover, if the explosion
was, in fact, caused by a meteor or comet, is such an event consistent
with the magnetic anomaly that apparently was detected throughout Europe,
and perhaps even around the world?
- In addition, it is intriguing to consider
whether the magnetic anomaly occurred at the instant of the actual explosion,
or whether it occurred prior, during the possibly 1-2 minutes that the
object that exploded was seen by local herdsmen in the area prior to the