Publication Abstracts

Stothers 1979

Stothers, R., 1979: Ancient aurorae. Isis, 70, 85-95.

Ancient observations of the aurora borealis were perforce made visually and in the Western world were recorded almost exclusively by peoples of the Mediterranean basin. It will be useful initially to recapitulate the easily visible features of modern aurorae so that the historical ones can be discussed. Three basic forms occur: (1) rayless forms, such as arcs, bands, and glows; (2) rayed forms, such as draperies and coronae; and (3) flaming aurorae. A rapid pulsation or wavelike motion is sometimes also observed. At low geomagnetic latitudes the usual forms are quite simple, showing little or no motion; the color most frequently observed is red or yellowish white; and the average incidence of visible aurorae is about one per decade, although in Italy the incidence is a few times greater than in Greece. Aurorae at these latitudes do not often appear far from the time of maximum in the eleven-year solar activity cycle. Thus, it is only to be expected that ancient auroral reports must be vague and few in number and must present considerable difficulties of interpretation.

It is my intention in the present paper to trace the history of auroral studies in the ancient Western world, to comment on the partial modern rediscovery of this record, and to propose a classification scheme for ancient aurorae. A new and fully documented catalogue of ancient auroral reports has been compiled for this purpose and will be discussed statistically for whatever implications can be drawn concerning auroral activity in the distant past.

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BibTeX Citation

  author={Stothers, R.},
  title={Ancient aurorae},

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RIS Citation

ID  - st08810w
AU  - Stothers, R.
PY  - 1979
TI  - Ancient aurorae
JA  - Isis
VL  - 70
SP  - 85
EP  - 95
ER  -

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