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The 1860 Great Meteor procession
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The 1860 Great Meteor procession occurred on July 20, 1860. It was a unique meteoric phenomenon reported from locations across the United States.

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RE: Walt Whitman meteor mystery
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Forensic astronomer solves Walt Whitman mystery

It involves a particular painting. One of the painters we're very interested in is Frederic Church, from the Hudson River School in New York. He's an unusually accurate depicter of the sky. One day we acquired the catalogue from an exhibition of his paintings. On the back cover was this spectacular meteor travelling horizontally - it's what's called an "Earth-grazing meteor" - and it had fragmented into a long procession of fireballs. As soon as I saw that, I immediately thought that it might be what Whitman was writing about.
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Texas State astronomers say they've solved Walt Whitman meteor mystery

Walt Whitman, known as a keen observer of the sky, included significant references to contemporary as well as cosmic events in his poem "Year of Meteors. (1859-60.)" published in Leaves of Grass. A "great comet" in the poem that appeared unexpectedly in the northern sky is readily identified as the Great Comet of 1860, which follows the path Whitman described and was seen by most of the world.
From Whitman's description, the Texas State research team immediately suspected the other celestial event he wrote about was the rare phenomenon known as an Earth-grazing meteor procession.

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