Englishwoman's Domestic Magazine,  3 (1854–55), 139–43.

Shooting Stars and Meteoric Showers




Relevant illustrations:



Astronomy, Superstition, Analytical Chemistry

People mentioned:

Pytor S Pallas

Institutions mentioned:

Académie des sciences, Paris

    Outlines the origins of the ancient superstitions surrounding objects allegedly moving from 'celestial space to terrestrial regions' (139). Describes seventeenth-century French and English observations of such objects, including those of Pierre Gassendi. Explains that when the 'philosophic mind of Europe' was beginning to acknowledge what had 'been deemed a vulgar error', there arrived detailed reports of falling stones from the eminent natural philosophers Mr Williams and Jean-Baptiste Biot (140). Describing the chemical composition and physical characteristics of aërolites, the author points out that in terms of chemical composition, these objects are similar to 'metallic masses [...] lying in insulated situations' of the earth (141). Discusses various theories of meteor showers including those of Pierre S, marquis de Laplace and Humphry Davy. Outlines medieval and modern observations of some spectacular meteor showers, including those of Alexander von Humboldt.

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