Airship (or UFO) over Mendocino County in 1896-97

The Anderson Valley Advertiser has , literally, hundreds of articles in its archives. I have been trying to read them all. (Anderson Valley is on Route 128 between Cloverdale on Route 101 and Route  1- the road that runs north/south along the Mendocino Coast. This article was written by Malcolm Macdonald

“William Held and Dr. Case, of Ukiah, were riding northbound in a buggy on an early December evening, destination Centerville in the Potter Valley district. Their horses shied as a light flared from the darkness. Reining the team to a standstill the two men gazed skyward to the west, where they plainly saw the outline of an elongated craft suspended beneath what appeared to be a balloon or some sort of gas reservoir.

Jim Thornton also heading toward Centerville, but a few miles behind Dr. Case and Mr. Held, struggled with a startled team when he, too, saw a similar object. James Spotswood, of Pomo, and E.E. Holbrook, the proprietor of the Centerville Hotel, spied the strange craft, too, as a light disappearing into the distance at a wonderful speed.

Just another unidentified flying object? Perhaps, but this sighting occurred in the late autumn of 1896, seven years before the Wright brothers first flew. Yes, there had been hot air balloon flights dating to the initial one by the Montgolfier brothers in 1783; however, that trip was sans passengers. The next Montgolfier balloon flight did hold passengers: a basket containing a sheep, duck, and rooster. 

The first manned, and non-tethered, free ascent of a hot air balloon occurred about six months later. Chemistry teacher Pilatre de Rozier and the Marquis d’Arlandes soared aloft over Paris for twenty-five minutes, traveling about five and a half miles. Ben Franklin was among those who witnessed the event. As is often the ironic case, de Rozier proved the first victim of a hot air disaster. In 1785 his attempt to cross the English Channel in a hydrogen filled balloon ended in a fatal explosion.

Of course, manned balloon flights in the late 18th century and on through the nineteenth century were performed with something like a basket, of varying size, secured beneath. What the witnesses around Potter Valley saw in 1896 was much more like the UFO sightings that became more and more common after the Roswell incident of 1947.

The Mendocino County residents of 1896 weren’t alone. In the same week, Case Gilson, a young electrician from Oakland noticed an unusual aerial traveler moving north then westward at what he estimated to be 1,000 to 1,500 feet above him. He described it as resembling “a great black cigar with a fish like tail. The body was at least one hundred feet long, and attached to it was a fish like tail, one apex being attached to the main body.”

Gilson sighted the craft twice, at 8 and 8:30 p.m. on a clear night with a brisk north wind blowing. He was accompanied by others who backed up his claims. Gilson’s description went on, “The surface of the airship looked as if it were made of aluminum, which exposed to wind and weather had turned dark. I saw all this distinctly, and I am willing to take any oath to the truth of what I say. The airship went at a tremendous speed. As it neared Lorin [south Berkeley] it turned quickly and disappeared in the direction of San Francisco. At half-past 8 we saw it again, when it took about the same direction and disappeared.”

Sightings were not confined to California. Similar descriptions of an airship near Mount Tacoma in Washington occurred in late November, 1896. As word of the unidentified object(s) spread, so did mistaken sightings. The San Francisco Call noted, “An amusing phase of the airship mystery was developed last night, when that inoffensive planet Venus, sinking in the west, was mistaken for the clipper of the clouds scudding across the empyrean.”

The airship phenomena had legs, beyond the west coast and into the following year. Folks in Nebraska, Kansas, and Iowa viewed it in early April, 1897. Seemingly sober inhabitants of Chicago, Evanston, and other locales around Lake Michigan swore to the veracity of their descriptions of an airship with a white light in the front as well as green and smaller white lights on its side, along with more green lights extending at its tail end. In mid-April, two warehouse men, a pair of merchants, and four city officials claimed to see an airship above Clarksville, Tennessee. On the same night, at Russelville, Kentucky, a comparable report, emanated from a physician, a long time merchant, and several other reputable citizens.

Prior to that time, airships that vaguely resembled 20th century dirigibles had taken limited flight. In 1863, Solomon Andrews, a doctor, claimed to sail one in the sky above New Jersey as you would a sailboat. However, it must be noted that Andrews’ “ship” was closer to a basket than the type of elongated vessel described in 1896 and 1897.

There’s no clear cut answer to the airship mystery of 1896-97. Stories grew more fantastical during 1897 as the stories spread. Present day readers should note that this was an era of “yellow journalism,” when editors were sometimes prone to manufacturing the news rather than report it. A preponderance of the California stories started in the pages of one paper, the San Francisco Call.

Still, apparently normal citizens like the Mendocino County residents or the Bay Area electrician, Case Gilson, swore to the objectivity of their sightings. In April, 1897, an Aurora, Texas report claimed an airship crashed into a windmill. The occupant of the airship was dead and mangled beyond typical identification methods. The craft was supposedly made from a silver and aluminum mix, weighing several tons. Witnesses said that hieroglyphic like figures were visible on the outside of the wreckage.”

Rainbows along the Mendocino Coast – Ver 2

I love rainbows. Not sure why, They seem to be a harbinger of peace to me.

Here’s a few pics of rainbows that have hovedto on my computer in the last little while.

Rainbowout sea from Van Damme Park

Rainbow over the C V Starr Centre in Fort Bragg

Rainbow over Noyo Harbour

Rainbow over Mendocino

Rainbow out to sea at Navarro

Rainbow at Westport

And to finish yjings off some rainbow music!!!!


The Sun like you have never seen it

Start by looking at this vid …..

The first pictures from SoLO – the name of the spacecraft are stunning:

The sun’s surface with earth in the corner for scale

This picture of the Sun was taken just 48 million miles from its surface is the closest ever acquired by cameras. The picture comes from the European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter (SolO) probe, which was launched earlier this year. Among the craft’s novel insights are views of mini-flares dubbed “camp fires” such as the one with arrow pointing at it in the above photo.

These are millionths of the size of the Sun’s giant flares that are routinely observed by Earth telescopes. Whether these miniature versions are driven by the same mechanisms, though, is unclear. But these small flares could be involved in the mysterious heating process that makes the star’s outer atmosphere, or corona, far hotter than its surface. “The Sun has a relatively cool surface of about 5,500 degrees and is surrounded by a super-hot atmosphere of more than a million degrees,” explained Esa project scientist Daniel Müller.

The Sun’s emissions have profound impacts at Earth that go far beyond just providing light and warmth. Often, they are disruptive; outbursts of charged particles with their entrained magnetic fields will trip electronics on satellites and degrade radio communications. SolO could help scientists better predict this interference.

“The recent situation with coronavirus has proved how important it is to stay connected, and satellites are part of that connectivity,” said Caroline Harper, the head of space science at the UK Space Agency. “So, it really is important that we learn more about the Sun so that we can predict its weather, its space weather, in the same ways we’ve learned how to do (with weather) here on Earth.”

SoLo’s 10 instruments will enable scientists to untangle what drives the sun

Solar Orbiter has been set on a series of loops around the Sun that will gradually take it closer still – ultimately to a separation of less than 43 million km. That will put SolO inside the orbit of the planet Mercury.





A new comet, Neowise, appears in Earth’s skies

I am an addict for all stuff about the stars. I’m all in for stuff on the mathematics of the motions of the stars. I have a “permanent” link to the NASA site of pics taken by space telescopes. In April I learned that we might, just might, see a new, not previously known comet. So, if you don’t know about Neowise – that’s it’s name – here’s a heads up.

This is the best article I have found on “my” new comet and I found it on the MSNBC website:

“A comet spotted by a space telescope has suddenly brightened enough to be visible to the naked eye – giving new hope to skywatchers disappointed by recent comets that failed to be easily seen.

The new comet can be seen after sunset, just above the horizon in the northwest as it moves farther from the Sun.

BEIJING, CHINA – JULY 7, 2020 – Comet Neowise

The Comet NEOWISE as seen above Salgotarjan, Hungary, early on July 10, 2020.

It’s named after the Neowise space telescope that first detected it on March 27. Most comets are not bright enough to be seen from Earth, but Comet Neowise showed early promise.

“As soon as we saw how close it would come to the Sun, we had hopes that it would put on a good show,” said University of Arizona astrophysicist Amy Mainzer, the principal investigator for NASA’s Neowise mission.

Comet Neowise survived its closest approach to the Sun, when it was most in danger of breaking apart from gravitational forces, last Friday, July 3.

It will pass within 65 million miles of the Earth on July 22, before heading once more for the far reaches of the solar system on a roughly 6,800-year orbit.

The comet’s nucleus is a 3-mile wide “dirty snowball” left over from the formation of the solar system about 4.6 billion years ago, said astrophysicist Karl Battams of the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, who studies comets that near the Sun. “They’re collections of rock and dust, all bound together with frozen ices and gases,” he said.

As a comet gets closer to the Sun, on an orbit that can take tens of thousands of years, the frozen gases start to boil off, and the vaporized gas and dust spread out behind the nucleus to create its visible tail. Comet Neowise actually has two distinct tails, one of gas and one of rocky dust, that point in slightly different directions because they react differently to the movement of the comet and the solar wind of charged particles that stream from the Sun, Battams said.

The comet’s recent surge in brightness could mean that the Sun’s heat has reached volatile pockets near the surface of the nucleus, explained astronomer John Bortle of Stormyville, New York, who has studied comets for more than 50 years. Comet Neowise was at its brightest when it was closest to the Sun, but it is now entering a better position in the sky for observing it.

“Soon it will recede from the morning twilight in which it has been mired this week and become much better seen, perhaps making it look brighter temporarily to most observers,” Bortle said in an email. Two other promising comets in the last year fizzled out at this stage and never became bright enough to be easily seen.

But the new comet has already been seen by observers around the world and by astronauts on the International Space Station.

A video from the ISS of Comet Neowise rising above the Earth has also been released on YouTube.

Comet Neowsie is not expected to grow as bright as a “great comet,” such as Hale-Bopp in 1997, but it’s one of the brightest this century, outshone only by Comet McNaught in 2007. From July 11, the comet’s fuzzy nucleus should be visible to the naked eye soon after sunset, just above the horizon at north-northwest, while binoculars could reveal its much larger but faint tail pointing away from the Sun.

Over the following days the comet will climb higher in the northwestern night sky before it disappears to the eye in August, although it will still be visible by telescope.”

Rainbows along the Mendocino Coast

Rainbows are as rare as hen’s teeth along the Mendocino Coast. My grandma used to tell me that a rainbow meant it was a monkey’s birthday – don’t ask I don’t know. These pics are the result of several years of collecting. I’d like to thank those who took the pics – regretfully I can’t thank each personally.

Click on any photo to see full size and initiate the gallery.

5.9 Earthquake North of us in Fort Bragg CA near Eureka

A small but strong earthquake shook through the Northern California coastline Sunday evening, March 8, at approximately 7:59 p.m.

The National Weather Service has reported the event was a magnitude 5.9 earthquake that began about 70 miles off the coast of Eureka, to the southwest, at a depth of approximately 1.2 miles, in the Mendocino Triple Junction.

The Mendocino Triple Junction is a point where three faults — the Gorda plate, the North American plate and the Pacific plate — meet in the Pacific Ocean near Cape Mendocino in Humboldt County. Seismic activity there is often responsible for the earthquakes felt in our area. There is strong suspicion that this triple junction might be the site of a future Tsunami.

I was sitting in my chair reading a book when the quake struck. No damage at our house.

5.9 Earthquake map