Text #1678

Pliny. Natural History. Series: Natural History. Vol. 1
[Plin. Nat. 2.33. Translated by H. Rackham. Harvard University Press. 1938. (10 Vols.) p. 243]

A light from the sky by night, the phenomenon usually called ‘night-suns,’ was seen in the consulship of Gaius Caccilius and Gnaeus Papirius (113 BC) and often on other occasions causing apparent daylight in the night.

Text #9471

Editorial comment by Laura Knight-Jadczyk

There is no way of know what this entry actually describes. It could be a comet - except that the Romans usually described comets as comets - or it could be a supernova, though that would most likely be described differently too. A “light from the sky causing apparent daylight at night.” One is reminded of the intense glow over England that was reported at the time of the Tunguska event. Perhaps these Roman descriptions of lighted sky at night are similar? Since the words “night suns” are included in the description, perhaps that indicates that a fireball was known to have been related? I’m going to classify it as a possible distant Tunguska-like event on the basis of the reports from England of a similar phenomenon.

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