Watching the aurora from Colonial America



The role of geophysics in early America is a fragmented and rarely told story. Its beginning predated the actual rise of America as a nation, and its development can be traced even through the years of the American Revolution. It seems appropriate to look back to these Colonial times to reflect, as part of science's input to the Bicentennial Year, on the great interest early Americans had in their physical environment during an era when Colonial safety and political turmoil surely dominated their everyday life. Current interest in the great sparcity of sunspots (the ‘maunder minimum’) [Frazier, 1976] which followed Galileo's telescopic verification of their existence adds yet another timely reason to discuss early American interests in solar terrestrial effects.