It was that time of day just after noon, when the sun was shining straight down this alley way on Gosport high street. This picture seems to be appropriate when I want to talk just a little bit about light.
In the first instance, it’s about light pollution. I am reading just two pages a day of Gilbert White’s Journals. Not the history of Selborne which he is famous, just his normal day to day notes.
On one of his daily jottings, he commented on seeing a giant aurora borealis. To see the northern lights this far south today is a very rare occurrence, and it seems that this might be partially at least due to the light pollution generated by our society.
I didn’t make a note of the date when I first read about an aurora in Gilbert’s notes, but I was going to remember that it happened and note the next occurrence if there were one.
Which of course there was, and not just one. Two not that far apart, Gilbert recorded; 25th Oct 1769 A vivid borealis and was also visible for a few evenings around the 29th. And then again on the 18th January 1770, Gilbert reported a vast aurora east to west.
That is quite a number over that period, more than a coincidence. It seems that aurora were visible quite far south as a matter of routine – cursed light pollution. Which begs another question;
I’ve read about comets and how they were viewed until they were understood, harbingers of doom. But I don’t ever recall hearing anything about how auroras were viewed. I think a little research is warranted.