METEOR, a luminous body appearing for a few moments in the sky, and then disappearing, exploding or descending to the earth; a shooting star. On any clear night an occasional meteor may be seen, but the most brilliant displays are con fined to particular dates. A very notable one is on Nov. 13 or 14. In 1864, Prof. H. A. Newton, of Yale College, predicted a display in 1866, and determined the length of the meteoric cycle, the annual period, and the probable orbit round the sun of the November stream. The dis play which came on Nov. 13, 1866, was splendid. It was seen all over Europe, at the Cape of Good Hope. and elsewhere. About 8,000 meteors were counted at Greenwich, and it is supposed that 1,000 more may have escaped observation. Professor Adams and others place the more magnificent displays at intervals of years apart.
It is believed that a ring of meteors revolves round the sun, portions of it very thickly studded with them, while at others they are only sparsely scattered. Every year the earth's orbit cuts through the ring, though only at intervals of about 33 years through the part where they are most crowded. The meteors themselves are of iron, which, striking the atmosphere of the approaching earth with planetary velocity, ignite and go to dust. Leverrier considers that in A. D. 127 the attraction of the planet Uranus brought them into their present orbit. Heis and Alexander Herschel recognize about 100 other meteor systems; hence it has been found needful to distinguish them by names. The November meteors coming from the constellation Leo are called Leonids. The next in importance
appear about Aug. 10, and come from the constellation Perseus. They are there fore named Perseids. They appear gen erally much earlier in the evening than the Leonids. There are also Lyrids, Geminids, Orionids, Draconids, Aquar iads, Andromedes, etc. Professor Schia parelli, of Milan, has shown that the orbits of particular comets often wonder fully coincide with those of meteoric rings. A small comet, called Temple's, invisible to the naked eye, coincides with the orbit of the November meteors, and a large one, called Tuttle's comet, visible to the naked eye in 1862 with that of the Perseids.
On Dec. 21, 1876, a detonating meteor exploded almost directly over the city of Bloomington, El., at a height of about 75 miles. Its detonating was so tre mendous as to shake the city like an earthquake. Fragments of the meteor formed a cluster of fire-balls 5 miles wide and 40 miles long. The main por tion of the meteor, with a rumbling roar like thunder, passed on E., and out of our atmosphere, over the Atlantic Ocean. On Feb. 10, 1896, a remarkable meteor exploded over the city of Madrid. Though it appeared during the daylight, its brilliancy was such as to dazzle the eyesight of persons in Madrid and to make it visible as far away as Gibraltar. It exploded at a height of about 15 miles, and so tremendous was the detonation that it was heard and its tremors felt over a radius exceeding 50 miles.