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No. 4: July 1978

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Meteoric night-glow

During some intense meteor showers, such as the Leonids in 1866 and the Bielids in 1872, observers noted a faint diffuse glow of the night sky in the direction of the meteor shower radiant. The glows were aurora-like but no sunspot or magnetic activity was noted. A New Zealand scientist, W.J. Baggaley, has suggested that these strange glows were caused by sunlight scattered from huge clouds of fine meteoric dust accompanying the meteor swarms.

(Anonymous; "Meteoric Night-Glow," Sky and Telescope, 35:485, 1978.)

Comment. This item is closely related to the many observations of luminous skies and, in particular, the vivid sky glows following the Tunguska Event of 1908. There may also be a connection with the highly variable behavior of the not-sowell-understood zodiacal light.

From Science Frontiers #4, July 1978. 1978-2000 William R. Corliss