3. “On the Shooting Stars in November, 1898,” by Sir J. Hector.
Sir James Hector said the November shooting stars originated in the year 126, and were caused by a comet being drawn from its usual course by the attraction of Uranus, a stream of stars thus being formed about a million miles in width from side to side, about a hundred thousand miles, in depth, 1,885,000,000 miles in length, and 4,400,000,000 miles in circumference. Through this immense ribbon of stars the earth passed once in every thirty-three-years, and, as the stars were travelling the opposite way to the earth, and at a speed of about twenty-three miles per second, while the earth travelled at twenty-two miles per second, they passed at the rate of forty-five miles per second. In 1833 and 1866 there were magnificent displays of these shooting stars, but the appearance since the last display of what was thought to be the head of the comet gave promise of the shooting stars of next November being a more awe-inspiring sight than ever. The other day cablegrams from America announced that some of the shooting stars had been seen there. That was the advanced, guard of next November's display. It took three days to go through the ribbon, but the intense portion only occupied six or seven hours in passing. Sir James could not see how we in New Zealand were to suffer from, the shooting stars. We might see them, but they would pass at a tangent. Although they looked formidable, they were not to be regarded as a source of danger in any way. In the course of his remarks Sir James stated that about a hundred thousand meteors fell into our atmosphere nearly every week in the year, and they hardly ever reached the earth's surface. An occasional one did get down. There was one at the Museum here which fell at Masterton. It weighed only 9 lb., and consisted of aluminium, iron, nickel, and one or two of the basic ores. This was the only one as yet found in New Zealand. The resistance of the earth's atmosphere usually reduced them to dust before they reached the earth.