Johann Esaias Silberschlag (1721-1791)
Theorie der am 23 Juli, 1762, erschienen Feuer-Kugel (Theory on the July 23, 1762, appearance of a fireball)
Magdeburg, Stendal, and Leipzig: Commercien-Rath Hechtel, 1764.
From the Paneth Collection
In 1762, a large fireball entered the Earth’s atmosphere and exploded over Germany. Silberschlag provided a good description of the event along with engravings of meteors, the fireball’s path, and its ultimate fiery explosion. Not until the 1800s did scientists begin to concede that fireballs and meteorites might have extraterrestrial origins. Prior to that, it was difficult to conceive how boulders could fall from the sky, and many believed that meteorites were simply rocks struck by lightning.