Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Time Capsule: 1885

December 21, 1885: The sight of a comet, a brightly-lit fireball, blazing across the darkness of space can be a memorable and awe-inspiring scene. That’s just what happened 126 years ago tonight when such a chunk of rock landed on the Clabbernong Farm in Capharnaum County.

While the meteorite came down as “big as a house” and in a crater ten feet across at the top, and fifteen feet deep, it is uncertain when the citizens of New Zebedee, Eldridge Corners, Homer, and the surrounding hamlets in Capharnaum County discovered the crash site. Oh, yeah...Jebidiah Clabbernong died that night, too, but that’s another story.

Comets, meteoroids, and their larger brethren, asteroids, have long been popular science fiction story elements with popular themes ranging from colonization to planets colliding with these masses of rock whizzing through the heavens. One popular tale of what can happen when one of these rocks slams into the earth came from H.P. Lovecraft. In "The Colour Out of Space" (1927) a meteorite falls out of the sky and impacts near the well on Nahum Gardner's farmland in rural Massachusetts. Soon thereafter things take a severe turn for the worse as life is gradually sucked out Garnder’s farmland and family. Brad Strickland used some of the “Colour” for his Lewis Barnavelt adventure, The Beast Under the Wizard’s Bridge.

According to Chris Perridas’s blog, Lovecraft's own fascination with meteors probably started when he saw the periodic showers over Providence, even witnessing a "great meteor" in 1906.

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