Description: Over a three-night span from November 10th through November 12th, 1833, people looking skyward witnessed what is still considered to be the greatest astronomical spectacle in recorded history. It was November 11th and 12th of that year when countless meteors shot across the night sky, catching many people’s attention and interest. People knelt down and prayed or flocked to churches, thinking that the Day of Judgement was at hand. Historical astronomer John Horrigan will take you back to that day with an interactive indoor/outdoor presentation and also discuss some of the greatest meteor showers in history, including the Great Leonid Showers that were seen on November 27th, 1966 and the most recent star spectacular on November 17th, 2001. During the program, Horrigan, a Watertown resident, will prepare audience members to view the annual Perseid shower in August, in addition to helping them identify some major constellations, double stars and Messier objects. He'll help you locate the North Star, gaze at some major satellites (including the Hubble Space Telescope and International Space Station), identify craters on the moon (including landing zones of Apollo missions) and talk about the SETI project. He’ll also let attendees hear a recording of what a fireball sounds like. A comparison of both Comet Swift-Tuttle (parent of the Perseids) and Comet Tempel-Tuttle (parent of the Leonids) will also be made. A telescope and binoculars will be provided for this all-ages show. The best booking time period is in the late Spring or Summer (for an indoor/outdoor interactive lecture and post-lecture skywatch), particularly August for the Perseid meteor shower and November for the Leonid meteor shower. “The goal is to educate families and kids so they can go outside and look to the heavens on their own,” Horrigan said. “Folks need to know that there’s more to life than American Idol, the Red Sox and Wii. Ancient TV was simply looking up. We all need to be humbled every so often by our universal meekness.”
Horrigan will also present a historical chronology of other brilliant celestial flurries of meteors including:
Dramatic Leonids showers (1799, 1866, 1966, 2001)
The Solar Eclipse and Meteor Impact of India (May 10, 2807 B.C.E.)
The Lyrid Outbursts of 1803 and 1922
The Perseid Fusillades of 1839 and 1863
The Meteor of 1787
Humboldt and Bonpland's Mexican Rain of Fire of November 12, 1799
The Balls of Fire and Stone Shower of April 26, 1803
The Meteorite of 1807
The Meteor Shower of 1844
The Meteor Shower and Comet of 1862 (No. III of August 10, 1862)
Alexander Herschel's Spectroscopic Analysis of the Meteor Showers of August 10th and the November 14th, 1865 Observation
The Hungarian Meteor Downpour of June 9, 1866
The Meteor Shower of November, 1866
The Arago "Splendid" Meteor Shower of November 14, 1867
The Siasconset, Nantucket Meteor of June 1, 1868
Secchi's Observations of the Meteor Shower of November 1868
The November Star Shower of 1869
The Giacobini Meteor Shower of October, 1933
The Great Leonid Meteor Shower of 1966
The Piezoelectric Fires of Messina, Italy (February 10, 2004)
The Peruvian Meteorite (September 15, 2007)
The Great Finnish Superbolide of September 28, 2007.
People were drawn out of their homes and looked up at the countless meteors that were streaking across the heavens during the early hours of November 12th, 1833.
The sky was ablaze with sizzling shooting stars and spectacular bolides during the early hours of November 12th, 1833.
The Leonids meteor shower is the result of the Earth passing through Comet Tempel-Tuttle's tail.
The Night the Stars Fell in 1833 as seen from Niagara Falls.
The early morning sky of November 12th, 1833 as seen from Florida.
An animation taken from the great Leonid falling star fusillade of November 17th, 2001
Recorded on December 21, 2008 at Watertown, Massachusetts. John reads from the New York Times of December 17th, 1882 about the odd behavior of a bright comet over the skies of Hartford, Connecticut on December 3th, 1882. 1 minute and 3 seconds; 1 MB
Recorded on December 14, 2008 at Watertown, Massachusetts. John reads about sailors who witness a bright and vivid aurora borealis in November of 1818 where a compass could be read on deck due to the luminosity. 1:33; 2 MB
Recorded on December 5th, 2008 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. John reads from Sidney Perley's Historic Storms of New England about a bright bolide that streaked across New England skies on August 30th, 1787. Time: 5:48 Size: 5 MB
Recorded on December 14, 2008 at Watertown, Massachusetts. John reads about an aurora borealis that was observed by Celsius and an associate in 1740 where electromagnetic interference was detected on a compass. 3:25; 3 MB
Recorded on January 3rd, 2007 in Watertown, Massachusetts. John reads from Sidney Perley's Historic Storms of New England about a rare and spectacular display of the Northern Lights as glimpsed by residents all over New England in 1719.3:00, 3 MB