An historical footnote on the origin of “Aurora Borealis”
Article first published online: 3 JUN 2011
©1978. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.
Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union
Volume 59, Issue 12, pages 994–997, December 1978
How to Cite
1978), An historical footnote on the origin of “Aurora Borealis”, Eos Trans. AGU, 59(12), 994–997, doi:10.1029/EO059i012p00994.(
- Issue published online: 3 JUN 2011
- Article first published online: 3 JUN 2011
The purpose of this article is to correct the generally held impression that the metaphor ‘aurora borealis’ (northern dawn) originated with Gassendi in 1621. The first published use of it by Gassendi actually apeared in 1649 in a passage describing an auroral display that he observed in 1621. The metaphor appeared 30 years earlier, in 1619, in a work at least partially and probably completely authored by Galileo. We argue here that its appearance in this work, ‘Discourse on the Comets,’ is the origin of the metaphor.