Popular Science Monthly/Volume 64/December 1903/Shorter Articles and Discussion



In the October number of the Popular Science Monthly, Mr. A. F. A. King has called attention to the remarkable display of aurora borealis on August 21 and has figured it as seen at York Harbor, Maine. I had the privilege of witnessing this aurora from Intervale, New Hampshire, and it corresponded very closely to the description given by Mr. King with a single exception, so remarkable that it seems to me worthy of note. At York Harbor the western half of the arch was made up of the comet-like pennants while the eastern half of the arch was continuous. This is clear, both from Mr. King's description and from the accompanying cut. As seen from Intervale this was reversed, the western half of the arch being continuous and the eastern broken. When I first saw the display, perhaps a little after half-past nine, the top of the arch was about ten degrees south of the zenith, and it slowly descended till about thirty degrees south. This was about half-past ten, and at this time the arch had so faded as to be hardly distinguishable.

Jas. Lewis Howe.
Washington and Lee University, Lexington, Va.,
October 7, 1903.

To the Editor: I was much interested in the account of the 'Auroral Arch,' given by Dr. A. F. A. King in the October number of Popular Science Monthly, owing to the facts that I observed the phenomenon and wondered what it was, and that Dr. King's observations differed somewhat from mine.

It was about 8 p.m. that I first saw the aurora. To me and others who observed it, it seemed in no way unusual save that we had not seen the 'northern lights' for several years, and we thought it was rather a poor display. No more notice was taken of it at this time. It was about nine o'clock that we were called out to see 'a peculiar appearance in the sky.' It was a band of nebulous light extending from the eastern to the western horizon, and it seemed to be about three feet wide (to me wider than the apparent diameter of the full moon). It was of nearly uniform width and intensity throughout its extent.

At nine o'clock I took the direction of the band with a pocket compass and I the time by my watch. At this time the band had begun to break up at the zenith and eastern end into the 'comet-like,' slowly wavering bodies as described by Dr. King. The band continued to break from the east to a little west of the zenith until the whole eastern arc was composed of these bodies, which was at about 10 p.m., when I returned to the house. Then the western arc was intact save that it seemed to have faded somewhat.

The phenomenon as described here was seen by five others at the time and place that I saw it. I was ignorant of the nature of the display, but thought it could not be the aurora borealis, so watched the papers for the next few days to ascertain if others who might explain the phenomenon had observed it, but found nothing satisfactory until I received the October Popular Science Monthly.

W. C. Kendall.

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Robert Henry Thurston.