Friday, November 18, 2011

1876: A Heavenly Phenomenon

The Shenango Valley Argus (Greenville, Pennsylvania), September 9th 1876, p. 6.


A Titusville Lady's Observation of the Upper Firmament.

The Titusville Courier of Saturday tells this: A very singular and
unaccountable appearance of a magnificent star, of a brilliancy
exceeding any of the larger stars visible at the time in the horizon,
was witnessed at about 9 o'clock last Wednesday. A lady acquaintance
observed a very brilliant star, and it appeared to her, and in order
to view and compare its brilliancy with other stars that were visible
at the time, she took a general observation of the strength of light
given out by the heavenly luminaries, and took also a distinct
observation upon the evening star which was then quite visible, but
was as indistinct in its brilliance relatively us the moon is to that
of the sun.

There was a mellow haziness overspreading the atmosphere which hid in
obscurity the smaller stars while this object scintillated with
exhuberant fullness, and was so pleasing to her mind that she became
determined to make a thorough investigation. On closer inspection she
discovered that it was moveable and might be a comet, a shooting star
of extraordinary brilliancy, or a meteor, or an ignis fatuus, though
this latter could not be, because it was too high in the atmosphere to
have so near a relation to the earth.

All at once the scintillations became greater, and a sudden shooting
upward took place showing in its flight streaks of light and darkness.
Then the scintillations became greater and more distinct, and
apparently moving toward her. This excited her mind as to whether she
was to have a heavenly visit or not; whether it would be dangerous to
remain in the position, exposed as she was to the open window.
Satisfying herself and making all necessary preparations for her
safety to close the window shutters, she waited in breathless anxiety
its approach.

Nearer and nearer it came, suddenly dro[p]ping slightly and bearing at
an angle toward the earth. She discovered it took the form and
appearance of a bird, with wings extended, and the scintillations
became more distinct. Suddenly it stopped and retraced its movement in
the direction from whence it appeared to have come. The brilliancy
never waned from the first to the last, until finally it died from

Finder's credit: Chris Aubeck

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