|Painting of The Meteor of 1860 by Hudson River School artist Frederic Church. (Credit: Frederic Church, courtesy of Judith Filenbaum Hernstadt).|
A remarkable astronomical event also occurred over the northeastern United States 153 years ago today on the night of July 20th, known as the Great Meteor Procession of 1860....
A meteor procession occurs when an incoming meteor breaks up upon reentry into our atmosphere at an oblique angle. The result can be a spectacular display, leaving a brilliant glowing train in its wake. Unlike early morning meteors that are more frequent and run into the Earth head-on as it plows along in its orbit, evening meteors are rarer and have to approach the Earth from behind. In contrast, these often leave slow and stately trains as they move across the evening sky, struggling to keep up with the Earth. Such a bright meteor entered the atmosphere at a shallow angle, fragmented, and most likely skipped back out into space.
Similar meteor processions have been observed over the years over the English Channel on August 18th, 1783 ; across the U.S. Eastern Seaboard and Canada on February 9th, 1913.