An Early mid-Latitude Aurora Observed by Rozier (Beziers, 1780)
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionAnnales Geophysicae. 2020, 38 (6), 1139-1147. 10.5194/angeo-38-1139-2020
Aurora observations are an uncommon phenomenon at low and mid latitudes that, at the end of the 18th century, were not well known and understood. Low and mid geomagnetic latitude aurora observations provide information about episodes of intense solar storms associated with flares and outstanding coronal mass ejection (CME) and about the variation of the geomagnetic field. However, for many observers at mid and low latitudes, the features of a northern light were unknown, so they could easily report it as a phenomenon without explanation. In this work, we found that an earlier mid geomagnetic latitude aurora was observed in Beauséjour, close to Béziers (43◦190 N, 3◦130 E), France, by the abbot François Rozier. He was a meticulous botanist, doctor and agronomist with a special interest in atmospheric phenomena. On 15 August 1780, from 19:55 to 20:07 (Universal Time), François Rozier observed a “phosphoric cloud”. A careful analysis of the report indicates that he was reporting an auroral event. The recovery of auroral events at low and mid latitude during the 1780s is very useful for shedding light on solar activity during this period because there are few records of sunspot observations.