Great Disturbance of the Electric Telegraph System of the Colony on 13th February.
2. A letter from Mr. Duigan, of Wanganui, called attention to the great disturbance of the electric telegraph system of the colony, which was experienced on the 13th February last, at the same time the s.s. ‘Airedale’ was lost. He attributed it to the same influence as that which gives rise to the auroral displays, and suggested that this disturbance may have caused an irregularity in the deviation of the ‘Airedale's’ compasses.
Dr. Hector remarked that it was quite recognised that the magnetic needle was affected during auroral displays, but not to the extent of seriously affecting a ship's compass. He had been attached to an expedition in 1858, during which it was his duty to assist in watching the deviation of the magnetic needle during perhaps the most brilliant auroral displays on record, and under these circumstances, and while using remarkably sensitive instruments, the actual deviation was very slight. The disturbance of the telegraph, on the other hand, is a very important and interesting feature, and, as the subject is attracting much attention, he thought the author deserved the thanks of the Society for having placed the fact on record.
The President thought it would be advantageous if Government would cause a systematic record to be published of such disturbances of the telegraphic instruments, which, he had been informed, were unusually frequent throughout New Zealand.