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Viewing the Aurora Borealis and an eclipse of the moon

William Dall Diary, Aurora - Feb 11, 1867 - Page 1

I witnessed a fine exhibition of Northern lights or Aurora Borealis, Feb 11th [1867] proceeding from the north and of a pure white color. They came with a light W wind at about half the pace of the wind and resembled I thought the rings of smoke from a pipe one within another gradually expanding the inner more intense and some parts of the rings move in tense then others. Or some thing as ripples follow each other is still water after dropping in a stone. These ripples however were compressed onto an oval form by the wind the longest diameter being across the current. It showed very unmistakeably that the shining medium is in consistence something like cloud or mist, and the fact that form particularly bright or dense portions of the ripples or waves, light streams of the same medium occasionally dripped and at some distance below dissipated, showed that the medium is 

William Dall Diary, Aurora - Feb 11, 1867 - Page 2

in consistence something like cloud or mist, and the fact that form particularly bright or dense portions of the ripples or waves, light streams of the same medium occasionally dripped and at some distance below dissipated, showed that the medium is rather denser then the atmosphere. It was quite low, some clouds being evidently above it and I guessed at its apparent altitude is 1500 feet or there abouts. It followed the air current entirely, and its motions in every part seemed guided or contracted by them. No portions rose above the rings. Wavy outlines were caused by the different velocities of the air in different parts of the current. It covered the whole sky in about two hours after its first appearance over the hills and as it spread and enlarged the light became fainter. It did not give out a positive light but had a mild luminous appearance like phosphoresence. I am convinced that is a palpable substance or medium and not an electric light or refulgence.

Mar. 17. Kurilla shot a sable. It was sitting in its hole and ran up a very high tree from which he brought it down (No. 668). The sable acts like a cat in all its movement and habits; it climbs bare trees with out difficulty 

William Dall Diary, Indian Life - Oct 1866-May 1867 - Page 3

in which it differs from the norka? or mink, an animal of very different habits. The indians, where we would say, you scratch, or spit-like a cat, would say like a sable.

Same day got a red squirrel and some redheaded woodpeckers and red birds. The former becoming more common now.

Also got, Mar 19, some more redheaded woodpeckers & red birds and a male and female 3 toed woodpecker.

Mar 19. in the latter part of the evening witnessed a fine, nearly total eclipse of the moon. The exact time was not observed, of the commencement of the eclipse but was probably about nine oclock. We had only our own common watches to determine 

William Dall Diary, Aurora - Feb 11, 1867 - Page 4

the time and may have been a quarter of an hour fast or slow. It lasted till 12 midnight and probably nearly an hour longer but then became covered with clouds. It presented the appearance of the successive diagrams at the time noted as nearly as I could sketch without a telescope or other glass. It is a pity there is no good astronomer here. Eclipses are clearly seen here, and probably more are seen for one locality then further south. Two were seen in the middle of the winter in 1865-6 by our explorers.

The edge of the moon in the shadow was irregular and of a dark yellow color.

(691) a show bird was brought in by Kurilla, the third specimen this winter and evidently not common here.

(692) Mr. Dyer presented a little round cap made of the skins of ducks heads (? Somateria Vnigra)? bordered with tame reindeer and rossamorga. These caps are made and worn in summer, in the delta of [the Youkon by the Premoraka or Sinagemut Indians.]

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