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The Tunguska Event: Eyewitness Account

N. N. Polyuzhinskii, Observer, Ilimsk Meteorological Station

Letter of 21 June 1908[1]:

On 17 June 1908,[2] at 8 hours and 30 minutes in the morning, there was heard a powerful noise and a sound resembling strong thunder and cannon shots, following one after another (like small shot), probably from the meteor (aerolite) flying through.

Supplementary report to A. V. Voznesenskii, one month later:

30 June New Style (17 June Old Style), on Tuesday around 8 o’clock in the morning, with 10 degrees of cloud cover in the air, thunder was heard from the south-southeast, not unlike rapid-fire pistol shots, then the thunder grew stronger and stronger, not unlike powerful gunpowder explosions and cannon shots, which in nearing Ilimsk went over into a horrible crashing, just as there came a small earthquake (swaying of the icon-lamps and jolts felt by people who were sitting peaceably). After the crashing (in the air) there rushed a noise (a roar), and the thunder began to move off in a north-northwesterly direction; the thunder continued around 20 minutes, during which time there was no lightning.

During the thunder one Ilimsk petty bourgeois was 4 versts[3] outside of Ilimsk up the Ilim river and saw “a flying star with a fiery tail,” which fell into the water, but its tail disappeared into thin air.

In the village of Yarskaya (about 60 versts downstream from Ilimsk on the Ilim river) three women saw a “fiery sphere” (a flying one); where it disappeared to is unknown, since the women became frightened of it and ran home from the field.

In my first report on this, the time of the thunder’s appearance was indicated incorrectly, by mistake.

— translated by Bill DeSmedt

copyright (c) 2004 by amber productions, inc.


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[1] The 21st of June by the “Old Style” (Julian) calendar then in use in czarist Russia corresponds to the 4th of July in the modern (Gregorian) calendar. [Return to text.]

[2] The 17st of June “Old Style” corresponds to the 30th of June in the Gregorian calendar. [Return to text.]

[3] One verst equals 3,500 feet. [Return to text.]


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copyright (c) 2004 by amber productions, inc.