Go to National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa
Volume 4, 1871
This text is also available in PDF
(187 KB) Opens in new window
– 354 –

Notice of a Meteor observed all over New Zealand.

3. Dr. Hector gave an account of the reports he had received from more than thirty stations respecting the magnificent meteor that passed

– 355 –

over New Zealand on the 1st instant at 8.30 p.m., which he stated had a general course from about a point west of north through the zenith of Picton, over which place it passed at less than thirty miles altitude above the surface of the earth, travelling with an apparent velocity of twelve miles per second. Its form was that of a ball intensely luminous, of a reddish hue, with a long very brilliant tapering tail, the light of which resembled burning magnesium wire, but giving off red sparks. It completely paled the light of the moon, which was shining brightly. The area over which it had been seen has a length of 700 miles, and a width of 300, from lat. 36° S., long. 122° E., to lat 46° S., long. 175° E. The apparent diameter of the head was 10′, and the length of the tail tapering about 1°. Some of the observations appear to indicate that its course must have descended towards the earth's surface, but this depends on mere estimates of angular altitude, which cannot be depended on. The prolonged detonation which followed the passage of the meteor does not appear to have been heard at all the stations, but chiefly at those in the vicinity of Cook Strait, where the path of the meteor intersected New Zealand, all the observers in the North Island having seen it to the west, and those in the South Island to the east. When nearest to Wellington it must have been at a distance, in a direct line, of fifty-five miles, which agrees with the time, five minutes, which elapsed before the report was heard. This shows that the report did not proceed from the final bursting of the meteor, but proceeded from it at the time when it was nearest to the observer. Indeed, from the length of the path in which the meteor was seen, its sudden disappearance, as if by bursting, must have been an optical illusion in the case of all the northerly observers.

Mr. Marchant stated that he had witnessed another meteor, almost equal in brilliancy to the above, on the previous evening (27th instant), passing from east to west.

Mr. Floyd, of the Telegraph Department, stated that this meteor was reported at several stations in the North Island, and appeared to have passed over Napier, on the east, to Patea on the west coast. Its colour was blue.

4. “On the Conducting Power of various Metallic Sulphides and Oxides for Electricity, as compared with that of Acids and Saline Solutions,” by W. Skey, Analyst to the Geological Survey of New Zealand. (See Transactions, p. 311.)

5. “On the Electro-motive and Electrolytic Phenomena developed by Gold and Platina in solutions of the Alkaline Sulphides,” by W. Skey. (See Transactions, p. 313.)