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13 October 2020 at 3:28 pm #574758John Samuel PitchfordParticipant
This is my first foray attempting a local astronomical society talk on the detection of meteors and decided to start with the one recorded at Gottingen about 1800. Initially I tried to plot the locations and distances, but these did not seem to tie up?
In fact, the maps in some papers were orientated east, west rather than north south. For example https://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/metsoc2000/pdf/5008.pdf
I approached Bill Barton, FRAS. Deputy Director, British Astronomical Association Historical Section.
And he kindly directed me to
I have five main questions about this paper “Attempt to determine the distance, the speed and the path of the shooting stars from J.F. Benzenberg and H.W. Branders” and would appreciate direction and help.
1 Equipped with an exact timer, a star map and a lantern supplied by their professor, Lichtenberg. What was an exact timer at this period in history? Something like a German equivalent of Harrisons’s H4? I am considering sources of error, repeatability etc.
2 Benzenberg at Clausberg, Point B, exactly where is this place? Page 225 of the Babel link, line 4 and using Google Translate I get: “They choose a cemetery in front of Clausberg, on the mountain of the same name near Gottingen for their first measurement. Point, A. On the other hand, initially a field near Ellershaufen, but after the 6th corresponding observation they moved the baseline to point ‘C’ Sesebuhl near Dransfeld.
3 Brandes at Ellershausen, Point A, should this be Elliehausen? It seems to orientate better with the maps in other papers.
Their initial measurements taken from points A and B did not support the atmospheric origin of meteors idea. So, a new baseline established from point B, length 15,615m. To point C, Sesebuhl, (51.49881N, 9.78830E a mountain peak at 445m east of Dransfeld).
4 Line 9 of the Babel link; According to Meffungen, which Mr. Obrift-Lieutenant Muller informed them in Gottingen, the former ground line was 27050, the latter 46200 parif?. Fufs (Fuss?), (2.1 geogr. Miles) long, and the azimuth of the extended was 64 1/2 degree. the latter 64 degrees far from the southern part of the meridian. (Gottingen, Hanover; Fuβ (foot) = 291mm (11.91 in))
The units of measurement seem to change depending on your geographic location in Germany at this time?
5 Finally, the table of results follows and with the aid of Google Translate, my interpretation of the table follows. Pages 224 and 227 of https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=uc1.b4433470&view=1up&seq=239
My Google Translation:
to determine the distance, the speed and
the path of the shooting stars
J.F. Benzenberg und H.W. Branders
Number of correfp observation
Distance of the vanishing point from the Earth
The rest of the nature of the shooting stars
more than 30 miles
Surpassed stars of the first size: curved
Stars equal to the first size: long
Second size stars: slowly
Third size stars equal: slowly
Stars first to second size the same
Second largest; curled:
First big: curly slow
Third great; quick
First to second size: slow
Fourth to fifth greats
First great; curly
Fourth great, very quick
pallid (a little unreliable)
Overview of the more fully observed
Remove from the earth
Remove from the earth
of the starting point
The end point
Inclination of the web to the vertical
5 ¼ Mile
Faft = 0
4 to 5M in 1 sec
about 6M in 1 sec
Thank you for any comments
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