Sunday, December 27, 2015

"A strange light" - Rockhampton, Queensland - 17 October 1931

Hi readers,

When searching the National Library of Australia's TROVE digitised newspaper collection using the keywords "strange light" I came across the following article.

"A strange light
Seen in the west
Independent observers.

Hlamy writes: Please allow me a small space in your valuable paper to write of a strange trail of light seen in the western sky between 6.30 and 7pm Saturday evening October 17th. When first seen, this trail of light was shaped like a capital "I" or figure "7", then it changed into a long wavy line like a great serpent. Much brighter and bigger at the lower end. It stayed in the sky about twenty minutes and then suddenly disappeared. The two snapshots enclosed are time exposures of one minute, taken at fifteen minutes to 7 o'clock. Note the small star at the lower end of the trail.

Another observer

Stockman: Who else besides myself saw the wonderful sight in the western sky on Saturday evening 17th saw this dazzling affair. The sun was down a good time and the moon's light not very bright. The time must have been a little past 7 o'clock. The affair resembled a thick snake, head downwards, all brilliant white, while several clouds nearby were quite black. In fact there was not another white cloud in the sky. It held its shape for a while. Then the tail changed and it started to pale, turning pink as it did so. The head stayed strong and pink to the last, I had no watch but before it paled I had ridden a mile watching it all the time. I had an idea it came on suddenly, as I shut a gate several minutes before and saw nothing.

Superstitious people will be wondering what it fortells. I'm trying to believe our long delayed rain is close at hand.

Almost vertical

A mysterious phenomenon was witnesses by many residents as dusk was approaching on Saturday evening last, says our Winton correspondent. It took the form, when first observed of, a pencil of white steam-like substance.


It was located in the sky, south of Winton, at an altitude of about half way between the horizon and the zenith close to the two pointers of the southern cross. The mysterious white streak stood almost vertical and unravelled slowly downwards at the same time growing thicker, until it was about the length (to the eye) of the distance between the southern cross pointers.

After about ten minutes it began to bend as if blown by an air current, and assumed the shape of a reverse mark of interrogation. The lower end was now in the shape of  an arrow head and drifted lower and in a westerly direction, until a s darkness came on, it faded from view.

Enormous meteor

An enormous meteor or falling star, which fell in a north-westerly direction was observed in the Winton district. It reached the dimensions of a huge electric light and had a brilliant red sword-like tail. Meteors have been seen in the Alpha district recently."

Source: "Morning Bulletin" [Rockhampton, Qld: 1878=1954] Wednesday 21 October 1931 p6.


1. Rockhampton, Queensland is at latitude 27 deg 24 mins south; longitude 150 deg 30 mins east.

2. The sun set that night at 6.03pm [UTC plus 10 hours.]

3. At 6.45 pm the sun was 9 degrees below the horizon at azimuth 15 deg south of west.

4. The moon was at 69 degrees elevation; azimuth 29 deg south of west.

5. From Rockhampton it was seen to the west, and from Winton it was seen to the south. Looking at a map this seems to indicate it was the one object seen from these localities.

6. All the details suggest that the observers were watching the trail of a bright meteor, distorted by high altitude winds.

No comments:

Post a Comment