Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/616

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THE whole world enjoyed, during the closing months of 1883 and through January, 1884, the spectacle of a succession of sunsets and sunrises marked by a brilliant, gorgeous red coloration. The phenomenon, if it had been only for a day or, two, might not have excited any particular remark, for in the United States the sight of a brilliantly-colored sunset is not at all unusual; but when it was found to be continuous for months, and to extend to every part of the earth, the impression became nearly universal that something uncommon was going on in our atmosphere or in space. The phenomenon apparently reached its culmination about the 27th of November, when the western sky was illuminated for more than an hour after sunset by a lurid glow, as of some great conflagration; and in many places the public thought it actually was the mark of a fire, while in some towns fire-alarms were sounded. The phenomenon first began to excite attention in the Eastern States at about the time of its brightest manifestation, in the last days of November. It was, however, remarked on the Pacific coast about a week earlier; in Europe early in the month; and at points in the Indian and Pacific Oceans as early as September. Among the earliest published mentions of it were those from the islands of Rodrigues, Mauritius, and Seychelles, August 28th, Brazil, August 30th, New Ireland, September 1st, the Gold Coast, Africa, September 1st and 2d, and one that was made in connection with the observation of a "blue sun" at Trinidad, September 2d, when, after dark, says the report, "we thought there was a fire in the town, from the bright redness of the heavens." At Ongole, India, after the sun had set, green, "light yellow and orange appeared in the west, a very deep red remaining for more than an hour after sunset"; whereas under ordinary conditions all traces of color leave the sky in that latitude within half an hour after the sun disappears. Captain Rolland, of the French Messageries steamer Saghelien, passing from near King George's Sound, Australia, to the Island of Réunion, observed, from the 25th of September to the 12th of October, a red light around the sun, which became more pronounced at sunset, and persisted for a length of time after that hour in proportion as the ship was in a higher latitude. "The colored part of the sky, which was at times extremely lively, had, about a half-hour before sunset, a very considerable surface, extending to a distance of forty-five degrees from the sun." The same coloring was seen in the morning. A correspondent writing from Wailuku, Sandwich Islands, to the "Hawaiian Gazette" of October 3d, speaks of the "most extraordinary" sunsets they had been having for some time past, "fiery red,