Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New England Dark Day

In the last five days, I have been monitoring news to understand the influence of the Mars-Ketu conjunction, and the list of unusual events is already quite long: road and flight accidents, strikes over oil prices, fires and floods from California to China, clashes with police (in Euro08, rubber bullets were used, in peaceful Bern!), and, just two days after my post on this constellation, a 7.5-magnitude earthquake occurred in Japan.

Forest fires in US and Canada were particularly harmful and unusually early for the season, causing multiple evacuations. Reading about them, I found, by chance, a brief note related to historical forest fires with a reference to the recent research by McMurry et al (2007) who proved the connection of forest fires with infamous New England Dark Day on May 19, 1780. It was one of recorded historic dark days which were considered symbolic in the past, because mysterious darkness covered the land, such that at noon people needed candles, and animals behaved like after sunset.

As you can imagine, I cast a chart for the date, because I expected a peculiar constellation of malefics (Mars or Saturn) with Lunar Nodes (Rahu or Ketu). For that dimmed morning in Rupert, Vermont, the chart showed broad conjunction of Ketu, Moon and Saturn

But if you look at the Sun with Rahu, it is obvious that the event was preceded by an eclipse on May 18!

Yet, the chart for eclipse in Rupert was not quite convincing, because the eclipse fell into 6-12 houses, whereas I expected a much stronger, angular position. I decided to look at the chart shifted geographically along the longitude, towards more western areas. Shifting the location of the event for 10-15 degrees westward would provide a chart with eclipse at sunrise, with Sun-Rahu in 1st house and Moon-Ketu-Saturn in 7th. That would be the right and dramatic chart for the Dark Day!

But that would mean that the source of the disaster should be located somewhere 1000 kilometers to the West, deeper in the continent.

This was intriguing, and I started searching the web for more details about McMurry’s research. Guess what citation I dug up in one of press-releases? “They found that a major fire had burned in 1780 affecting atmospheric conditions hundred of miles away. Large smoke columns were created and carried into the upper atmosphere.”

Deriving relevant constellations from the past events is as exciting as predicting future based on the upcoming ones.

Update of June 18.

Following my enquiry, Erin McMurry provided a preprint of her paper, where I found a detailed description of her research. Her main conclusion is that the Dark Day occurred due to the very low pressure system near Michigan, causing eastward winds, and the main fire source was in Algonquin Highlands (marked red in the map, click to enlarge). One can see from the map scale that 1000 km longitude shift of the eclipse location was a pretty good estimate.


Carol said...

Keep up the good work.

Valerie Livina said...

Thank you for your kind words, Carol.


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