May 18, 2012

What caused the "Dark Day" — on May 19, 1780?

It was not a solar eclipse.
With little scientific knowledge amongst the populace in 1780, people would have been afraid. Some lawmakers in Connecticut believed it was the day of judgement. The sense that a decisive moment was afoot would have been bolstered by the fact that during the preceding days, the sun and moon glowed red.
Volcanic dust is one theory, but there's no record of a volcanic eruption then. It could have been a meteorite. It was actually probably a forest fire.

12 comments:

edutcher said...

Volcano was my guess, only because Krakatoa had such an effect around the world when it blew.

A big forest fire miles away would not have panicked the animals, but the idea it was some sort of weather phenomenon is probably most likely.

Earthquake is possible, but meteor would have left a hole in the ground that would have been discovered withing a few years and the Indians would have seen it, so we'd have a record.

DADvocate said...

A big forest fire miles away would not have panicked the animals, but the idea it was some sort of weather phenomenon is probably most likely.

In the early 1990s, there was a large forest fire in West Virginia. Winds blew the smoke into Maysville, KY, 90 miles from the closest point in WV, where I lived at the time. The smoke was light enough that it only made a slight haze, but you could easily smell it. Deer were going nuts. I saw several swimming the Ohio River to escape. 5 deer were hit in the county in one day on Hwy 8 that follows the river on the Kentucky side.

The settlers may not have been able to distinguish the smell of a distant forest fire from their own fires used for cooking, etc. That's some awful heavy smoke to make a dark day though.

Mitchell said...

One ought not overlook the possibility that dark fumes came from Mordor to protect marching orcs on their way to the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

Christy said...

With little scientific knowledge amongst the populace in 1780, people would have been afraid.
Wasn't The Enlightenment nigh on to a century old by then?

I can't wait to see how The Doctor saved Earth that time.

Alan said...

Bush's fault.

ndspinelli said...

It was prior to Smokey The Bear, so it probably was a forest fire.

traditionalguy said...

The flight of an enormous squadron of Alien saucers is one good guess.

The were late for a meet up in Roswell, NM. But the Navaho Priests who were guiding them down chanted out the wrong bearings.

paul a'barge said...

Have you seen the pictures of Al Gore belching great billows of fire?

Perhaps he was there and f*rt*d.

ndspinelli said...

traditionalguy, I took a detour this winter on my way out to San Diego and went to Roswell. Very dissappointing. Just lots of tourist shit and wacky gift shops. I did buy sone funny fridge magnets. It's an out of the way place and in my opinion, not worth going out of your way.

Rockeye said...

I was in the path of the Gulf War oil fire smoke cloud, and it was the strangest shit. My alarm went off to go to my duty station but I thought it was wrong. At 0730 the sun should have been out but it was dark as night. I crawled out of my tent to what must have been quite a bit like what those old-timey folks saw. The sun never came out that day. I can believe a huge forest fire might have been the culprit.

MadisonMan said...

The red sky before the darkness also argues for a forest fire.

Red skies at night!
Red skies at night!
Oh Oh.
Oh oh oh ohohohohoh!

Chip Ahoy said...
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