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A MYSTERY OF 1909

OTAGO'S "LIGHT" SENSATION,

Moat people, remembefr that ip the middle of 1909 there were numerous reports from various parta of Otago, and a few from other parts of New Zealand,* that people had seen strange lights in the air in the evening. Pescriptions of the lights varied greatly, and theories to aoccnint for them wei-e equally divergent, Some people said aurora; some said airships, and of the latter, a few even heard the aviators, muttering darkly in "German." There were people who said they saw the supposed objects by daylight, when they were not luminous, but were, apparently dark material masses. Those who did not see the phenomena usually tapped their foreheads, and said, "Poor chap"—the words being ,a gentle reflection xipon .the last-named observer of tha mystery. One of these "poor chaps," who did .not seem in the least afraid of the title, and disarmed his hearers by poking ftm ai himself, read a most interesting paper before the astronomical section of the Philosophical Society^ last evening. This was Mr. J. Orchiston, who, having himself seen the lights very clearly, not only recorded his own observation, but collected a number of d'eacriptidns by other people. The features of the lights, according to Mir. Orchiston, were their great brilliancy, high speed, tow elevation above the ground (a few hundred feet), and the ■ fact that they followed approximately the slope of the ground, rising over hills and dipping into valleys. His own estimate of their speed, made from reported observations at various places, was 200 miles per hour, and the light was sti'ong enough for the time to be read on a watch when the" luminous cloud was many miles away. The paper naturally aroused a lively discussion. Mr. F, W. Furkert said that Mr. Orchiston deserved credit for his courage in facing such an audience with such a paper. If one wanted to be branded as a "40 horserpower liar" in these days, one only has to say "nerial lights." But he had s«en one himself in the Oatlins district, which was n dryarea. Mr. Furkert described the lightas appearing over a distant range of hills, and travelling at such a speed that its reappearance in a gap in the hills was correctly guessed at. The members of the section discussed the matter from various points of view,, and it was suggested by Professor Marsden that an observation by means, of a spectroscope would liave shown at once whether the lights were of auroral origin.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP19210804.2.74

Bibliographic details

A MYSTERY OF 1909, Evening Post, Volume CII, Issue 30, 4 August 1921

Word Count
419

A MYSTERY OF 1909 Evening Post, Volume CII, Issue 30, 4 August 1921

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