Tennessee College Campus – 1853
On June 1, 1853 a luminous object was seen by many as it hovered over a Tennessee college campus. As the sun rose over the campus of Burritt College, numerous students—who apparently were early risers in those days, too—were startled to see two luminous objects in the sky. According to professor A.C. Carnes, who reported the incident in a letter to Scientific American, the first had the appearance of a small new moon, while the other resembled a large star. The small object then vanished, while the bigger one changed shape, first into a globe and then into an elongated shape parallel with the horizon. The smaller light then became visible again, and increased rapidly in size, while the other object shrank. The two objects continued fluctuating in a similar fashion for the next 30 minutes. “The students have asked for an explanation, but neither the President nor Professors are satisfied as to the character of the lights,” wrote Carnes. While he himself speculated that the occurrence might have been caused somehow by atmospheric moisture, the incident remains a mystery.