Jersey City, NJ astronomer Henry Harrison witnessed the bright circular object that appeared to hover a very high altitude. Harrison soon realized that it needed to move at very high speed in order to stay overhead as the Earth turned.
The object remained stationary as the stars rose and set behind it and this mystified Harrison. He observed the object for about three hours when all of a sudden it sharply changed direction and started moving eastward. Harrison further observed the sky later that night and the object was not there any longer so, he quickly ruled out the Brorsen’s comet.
A member of Toronto Astronomical Society, Henry felt the need to report his discoveries with a reputable scientific authority. He decided to send a telegram the next day to the US Naval Observatory in Washington, DC. However, the naval observatory director and world famous astronomer Asaph Hall III discarded Henry’s telegram.
Harrison then wrote a letter to the editor of the New York Tribune after getting no response from the astronomical authority. The newspaper published the letter on its April 17, 1879 issue titled “A Curious Phenomenon”, which was also later published on the Scientific American (Vol 40 Issue 19) dated May 10, 1879.
Henry Harrison got some peer validation from New York regional astronomers Henry M. Parkhurst and J. Spencer Devoe. Spencer published a letter about his observation on the same night Harrison did. Spencer then published his measurements upon Parkhurst’s request.
Harrison described the object he had seen as circular and bell shaped, and appeared to be moving under intelligent control. Morris K. Jessup then calculated the object using a combination of measurements from the three regional astronomers and said that the object was above New York City for three hours. He further found out that the object was 80 to 100 miles in altitude and estimated that the object had around half a mile in diameter.