Go Back Report # 1235





Office of the Vauban Tells of Astronomical Phenomenon Off the Brazilian Coast.


   On the arrival of the Lamport and Holt liner Vauban yesterday at Hoboken from South American ports, Frank C. Blessing, second officer, reported witnessing an astronomical phenomenon on the night of February 11 off the coast of Brazil which lit up the ship and the sea like day and startled those on deck. The officer said he was in charge of the bridge at three bells in the first watch, 9:30 P. M., when he saw a huge ball of fire rise above the horizon in the west and describe a low arc ahead of the ship and disappear below the eastern horizon.

   When he took his observations, the fire ball, which was as large as the full moon in the southern hemisphere and surrounded by a flaming halo, lighting up sky and sea, was about 10 degrees above the horizon. It was traveling at great speed and was in sight three minutes and twenty seconds.

   In describing the strange sight Officer Blessing said: “The ball was very fiery and a brilliant red, with a tall and a long fiery trail, which lit up the sea in all directions. The ship, and for a quarter of a mile around, was lit up like day, and the light was so brilliant that it dimmed the lamp in the binnacle and the smoking room lights, which caused passengers inside to rush out on deck to see what was the matter. I was scared at the strange sight, because I thought that it had something to do with the end at the world. It was too large for a meteor and came up from the horizon on the west and did not drop from the zenith.

   “I could not estimate how far it was from the ship when it passed across the bows, I called the Captain to see it, but by the time he reached the bridge the ball of fire had disappeared. I cannot imagine what it could have been, and the astronomers attached to the observatories could not explain it to me.

   “When we arrived at Rio de Janeiro the scientists from the observatory came on board and questioned me as to the time I had seen the phenomenon and what it was like, and the same thing took place at Buenos Aires and Montevideo. From what the astronomers told me, the big ball of fire must have been visible within a radius of 700 miles north, south, east and west of the Vauban when we observed it."


Reference for the above text is: E-mail from Chris Aubeck to Carl Feindt dated February 08, 2011.

Original reference: The New York Times, Published: February 20, 1922, © The New York Times.




North America – New Jersey, Hudson. Body of water is the Atlantic Ocean.

Hoboken       Latitude 40-44-38 N, Longitude 074-01-57 W (D-M-S)

Reference: http://geonames.usgs.gov/pls/gnispublic/f?p=139:1:584016604572706


South America

Buenos Aires, Argentina  Latitude 42-05-00 S, Longitude 071-14-00 W (D-M-S)

Montevideo, Uruguay      Latitude 32-15-00 S, Longitude 056-31-00 W

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil       Latitude 22-00-00 S, Longitude 042-30-00 W [1st order admin. div.]

Reference: http://geonames.nga.mil/ggmaviewer/



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