Wednesday, December 03, 2008

1906 Meteor Report

Lovecraft probably read of this report, as he did follow the NYT. It comes from the very cool site, Water UFO:

October 30, 1906

One, Weighing Tons, Hit the Sea a Mile Away.
Chief Officer Thinks Such Messengers from the Blue Have Sent Many a Ship Down.

When the Phoenix Line steamship St. Andrew arrived from Antwerp yesterday, Capt. Fitzgerald reported that the steamer had passed through a meteoric shower at 4:30 o'clock on Tuesday about 600 miles northeast of Cape Race. The largest meteor observed fell into the sea less than a mile away. Had it struck the St. Andrew, all hands would have perished.

Yesterday afternoon Chief Officer V. E. Spencer, who was on the bridge when the meteors appeared, told what he saw there.

“On Tuesday afternoon," said Mr. Spencer, "the weather was clear and bright, although there was little sunshine. Just after one bell, 4:30 o’clock, I saw three meteors fall into the water dead ahead of the ship one after another at a distance of about five miles. Although it was daylight, they left a red streak in the air from zenith to the horizon.

"Simultaneously the third engineer shouted to me. I then saw a huge meteor on the port beam falling in a zigzag manner less than a mile away to the southward.

“We could distinctly hear the hissing of the water as it touched. It fell with a rocking motion, leaving a broad red streak in its wake. The meteor must have weighed several tons and appeared to be from 10 to 15 feet in diameter. It was saucer shaped, which probably accounted for the peculiar rocking motion.

“When the mass of metal struck the water, the spray and steam rose to a height of at least forty feet, and for a few moments looked like the mouth of a crater. If it had been night, the meteor would have illuminated the sea for fifty or sixty miles. The hissing sound, like escaping steam when it struck the water, was so loud that the chief engineer turned out of his berth and came on deck, thinking the sound came from the engine room. I have seen meteors all over the world, but never such a large one as this."

Asked what would have happened if the meteor tumbled on the St. Andrew, Mr. Spencer said:

"The ship would have been burned out immediately and every soul on board destroyed. I have no doubt that many of the vessels which have been lost at sea in apparently fine weather have been destroyed by falling meteors."

Capt. Russ of the Hamburg-American steamer Brazilia, which arrived yesterday about the same time as the St. Andrew, reported having seen a large meteor at 7 P.M. on Tuesday, Oct. 30, in latitude 47 degrees north and longitude 48 degrees west. This is believed to have been part of the intermittent meteoric shower observed by the St. Andrew earlier in the evening.

This is the original reference: The New York Times, November 5, 1906, p. 1

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