Monday, December 14, 2015

A seven minute meteor? Taree - NSW - 18 June 1933

Hi readers,

The subject of today's post is an observation at 1840hrs on Sunday 18 June 1933, at Taree, New South Wales.

 “Taree aerial phenomenon.
“Several Taree residents witnessed a strange aerial phenomenon about 6.40 on Sunday evening last. A light appeared in the western sky and travelled in an easterly direction from Wingham towards Taree. The light is described as being about the size of one of the Taree street lamps. When near the Taree bowling green it seemed so low that it was hidden behind a tree and it passed over the hill to the west of the oil depot and appeared to fall behind the trees. The flight occupied about seven minutes. Had the object been a meteor it would have fallen straight down but it travelled parallel to the earth.”

1. Taree is at latitude 31 deg 54 min south and longitude 152 deg 27 mins east.

Image courtesy of Google maps.
2. According to the Geophysics Australia website sunset that night was at 1653 hrs (UTC plus 10 hrs). Astronomical twilight was at 1820hrs.

3. Meteors do not always travel "straight down." They can certainly seem to travel parallel to the ground.

4. A duration of seven minutes for a meteor is unheard of.

5. There is no mention of a meteor-like trail or tail; there was no single body exploding into a number of parts, or bits seen breaking off the main body.

6.There is no mention of any associated sound.

7. I conducted a search through TROVE but found no other newspaper articles about this event.

8. All in all, if this were a modern event I would be looking at the possibility of a hot air garbage bag hoax balloon. Was anyone launching "fire balloons" in these times?

Note added 16 December 2015.

Barry Greenwood advises that: "Fire balloons were known then and well before. They were suspected in a US/Canadian border airship flurry in 1915. 1909 saw them blamed for some airships in each of the UK, NZ and US waves."

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