DIRECTOR   Aeolus Sharpe


On the Luminous Zone observed in the Heavens on the 29th of September last. By Capt. H. Kater, V.P.R.S. To Mr. Taylor. Sir, r•"'HE substance of the following communication was in•*• sertecl in the Times newspaper of the 4th of October; but as it seems desirable that phenomena of this kind should be permanently recorded, I shall feel obliged by your giving it a place in the Philosophical Magazine. On the 29th of September last, Professor Moll and myself, being at Chesfield Lodge near Stevenage, observed at 8h 35m mean time, a zone or luminous belt extending itself in the heavens from the eastern to the western horizon. The light of the zone was white, uniform or nearly so, and surpassing much in intensity that of the milky-way. Its breadth (nearly equal throughout) was about three-fourths of the distance from |3 to y Aquilae, or 3° 45'. The edges of the belt appeared perfectly well defined and equally luminous with the middle, and its transparency was such that the stars were distinctly seen through it. The observations made at the moment were, that the belt covered the Pleiades, and appeared to be equally distant from « Arietis and y Andromedae. It passed between a Aquilaj and a Lyrae, at the distance from a. Aquilae of one-third or two-fifths of the interval between these stars. Professor Moll observed that its edges were upon /3 and y Ophiuchi. Lower down, near the western horizon, this luminou szone suffered a very remarkable inflexion towards the north, and soon after was lost in the clouds at a little distance above the horizon. On tracing the course of this phenomenon upon a celestial globe, its path appears to have been nearly that of a great circle, meeting the horizon about the E.N.E. and W. by S. points. The altitude of the centre of the most elevated part appears to have been about 72°, so that it must have been nearly in the plane of the dipping-needle, and nearly at right angles to the magnetic meridian. At 8h 42m mean time, the belt began to fade slowly from the east towards the west, and at 9h 22m no trace of it was perceptible. Its light during the whole time appeared perfectly steady and without any coruscations.