Our Great American Solar Eclipse has come and gone with hundreds of thousands of people traveling great distances to be a part of it.
Here in Custer County, America, the impact was not as great as in other areas. But still, the sky darkened somewhat and for a while, the sun appeared to have had a large bite taken out of it.
The hype around the Great American Solar Eclipse reminded me of a family mystery that I’ve never solved.
My husband’s great grandfather, W. D. Hall, served in the Civil War in the Union Army and kept a journal of his travels and his battles. His journal is included in my book, GOING TO SEE THE ELEPHANT, A CIVIL WAR MEMOIR.
On February 5, 1865, in his journal, he reported “Move to South Carolina. Cross on pontoons; corduroy roads. See a star at noon. Camp 2 miles from ferry. go to church. good meeting.”
And there is our mystery, tucked without fanfare in with the other details of his day: “See a star at noon.”
How was he able to see a star at noon?
I researched every celestial event I could think of. A comet? None noted in any of my research materials. A solar eclipse? South Carolina had a total solar eclipse in April of that year but not in February. A meteor? Maybe. One morning in Oklahoma City while the sky was still dark, I saw a fireball flash across the sky above the city. The fireball or meteor was bright enough that it would have been visible “at noon”. Could something like that be what he saw?
As far as I know, nothing official was ever recorded about the OKC fireball in spite of the fact it looked like a flaming medicine ball. So just as my sighting doesn’t seem to have any official explanation, maybe W. D.’s “star at noon” has no explanation either, at least not yet.
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