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No. 100: Jul-Aug 1995

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Anomalous phenomena associated with the 1908 tunguska event

N.V. Vasilyev has prepared a lengthy review of the 1908 Tunguska "event," which is usually ascribed to a wayward comet or meteorite. Vasilyev's data is based upon 167 reports, mostly in Russian. They show once again that this was no ordinary impact event, as illustrated by the following observations:

  1. A "local" magnetic storm began about 6 minutes after the explosion (If that is what it really was.) and lasted for more than 4 hours. These magnetic perturbations resembled those following nuclear atmospheric explosions.

  2. The Tunguska object left no smoky trail like many fireballs, but rather irridescent bands that looked like a rainbow.

  3. Following the "explosion," at least part of the object continued on in the same direction but veered upwards. [Meteors sometimes skip out of the atmosphere on trajectories like this.]

  4. Although the Tunguska event occurred on June 30, 1908, optical anomalies appeared all across northern Europe as early as June 23. These included mesospheric, silvery clouds, very bright nights, colorful twilight afterglows [something like those following the Krakatoa eruption], and remarkably intense and long-lasting solar halos. Some of these effects persisted until late July.

  5. Neither craters nor meteoric debris have been discovered so far, despite assiduous searches.

  6. The explosion created a shock wave that leveled 2150 km2 of taiga and a flash that singed about 200 km2.

(Vasilyev, N.V.; "The Tunguska Meteorite: A Dead-Lock or the Start of a New Stage of Inquiry?" RIAP Bulletin, 1;3, nos. 3-4, July-December 1994, and 2:1, no. 1, January-March 1995. RIAP = Research Institute on Anomalous Phenomena, P.O. Box 4684, 310022 Kharkov-22, UKRAINE)

From Science Frontiers #100, JUL-AUG 1995. 1995-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987