March 11. “Brilliant northern lights in the S. [south]” March 14. The aurora over the southern sky, now like a river of flaming spears, then changing into a silvery veil undulating in wavy folds with the winds, every here & there interspersed with red sprays.” “Oct 10 In the S [south] is a smouldering aurora arch, wh [which] from time to time sends up streamers, a constant restless flickering.” Oct 18 There was a lovely ar. bor [aurora borealis] at 8 o’clock this eve. It wound itself like a fiery serpent in a double coil across the sky. The tail was about 10° [degrees] ab [above] the horizon in the N. [north] Thence it turned off with many windings in an E.rly dir [easterly direction], then round again & W.ward [westward] in the forms of an arch from 30° to 40° above the hor. [horizon], sinking down
again to the W [west] & rolling itself up into a ball from wh [which] several branches spread out. The arches were in active motion, while pencils of streamers shot out swiftly from the W. [west] toward the E. [east] & the whole serpent kept incessantly undulating into fresh curves Gradually it mounted up nearly to the Zen. [zenith] While the uppermost bend or arch separated into several fainter undulations, the ball in the N.E. [northeast] glowed intensely & brilliant streamers shot upward to the Zen [zenith] from several places in the arches, especially from the ball and from the bend farthest away in the N.E. [northeast] The color was principally a strong Yel [yellow] verging toward Yel.ish [yellowish] red. & in other places green-ish white When the upper wave reached the Zen [zenith]…[the] phenomenon…dispersed little by little leaving only a faint indication of an ar. [arch or aurora] in the S.rn [southern] sky Later I found nearly the whole of the ar. [arch or aurora]
Original journal dimensions: 10 x 16.5 cm.
Holt-Atherton Special Collections, University of the Pacific Library
John Muir, journals, drawings, writings, travel, journaling, naturalist