Saturday, March 2, 2013



Copyright 2013 Richard Taibi


Several years ago I glanced through the 1915 volume of Popular Astronomy and found an interesting article about the zodiacal light (ZL).  When I checked the author’s name, Rev. W.E. Glanville, I noticed his address and was startled to find he wrote from Solomons, Maryland a small town about 80 miles (130 km.) distant from my home.  I was intrigued that a Maryland author wrote about watching the ZL in a national magazine almost a century ago. I knew something about the light, but had never heard of Glanville.  Now, years later, I had the time to indulge my curiosity about my fellow Marylander; I wanted to know about him and learn more about the ZL too.  The following is what I learned about them both.  First, the light…

The Zodiacal Light

An Experience

“Has dawn arrived already?”  I was annoyed.  The eastern sky on October 22, 2012 was brightening and signaling the end of night and therefore my meteor watch was ending before I was able to see ‘enough’ shooting stars.  I checked the time and it was a half-hour before the earliest glimmer of dawn, called astronomical twilight, was predicted to start.  “Oh…it’s the zodiacal light” I thought.  Gradually the phenomenon distracted me from nearby darker vacant sky that I hoped would produce more meteors.  At first the light was a nearly formless glow south of Leo, a constellation that was a member of the archaic zodiac.  Leo was rising in the east and the light reached nearly up to its brightest star, Regulus.  The glow was so formless that I decided to postpone more serious scrutiny for another half-hour, when it would be higher in the sky, brighter and perhaps more defined.

Near six a.m., the light’s lower portion, nearest the horizon was brighter but also immersed in Maryland’s airglow and housing light pollution.  Natural and man-made lighting combined to make an indistinct foggy glow.  These imperfections made tracing the broadest part of the light nearest the horizon difficult.  Higher up in the sky, the light had more of the triangular shape I expected to see.  It was a vague irregular triangle whose highest point (the apex) was just horizon-ward of Regulus.  The light reached up one-third the distance from horizon to overhead.  The triangle’s longest side was parallel to the southern edge of Leo and slanted up not only toward the bright star but if extended by imagination, pointed further up in the sky, to the right, toward constellations Cancer and Gemini nearly overhead.  The suburban sky diffused the light’s outlines and it was only because I had seen it before and knew that it might reappear in the autumnal morning sky that I was aware of what I could dimly see.  My mind wasn’t playing tricks, it was helping me perceive the light.

Where and when can it be seen?

Fall and spring are the best seasons to see the ZL.  In the fall, look to the east before dawn; in the spring, look to the west just after nightfall.  Just as in my experience you will need to search for a triangular patch of hazy light that has the horizon as one of its sides.  The triangle’s two remaining sides slope upward in the sky.  Your site’s darkness and the air’s clarity will determine the height of the light’s upward extent, so that a dark, dust and moisture-free sky will show you the longest triangle.  Pick a night when there is no moon and a horizon that has no artificial lighting for the best view.

The triangular light’s direction of slope depends upon the time of day and the hemisphere you are watching from on earth.  For the morning ZL, the light’s triangle will slope upward to the right in the northern hemisphere; in the southern, it will slope upward to the left.  For the evening light, the triangle’s slope will be to the upper left in the northern hemisphere; in the southern, it will slope to the right.  March, April, September, and October are good months to look for the ZL, especially when a bright moon is not in the sky. 

What causes the Zodiacal Light?  (A selective history)

Scientists’ attempts to answer the causal question partially filled three centuries’ astronomical journals with conjecture and investigation; and the most comprehensive answer was not advanced until the past few years.  Rev. Glanville’s conjecture about what caused the ZL is the way he became connected with this history.

One astronomical historian credited Gian Domenico Cassini (1625-1712) with being among the first to make a written conjecture about the ZL.(1)  In 1683, his observations led him to believe that the light originated outside the earth’s atmosphere, in space near the sun.  Further, he believed that an aspect of the sun’s structure caused the light, making Cassini’s theory a sun-centered, (heliocentric) one.  Cassini named the phenomenon and by his word choice, he revealed the lingering effects of his astrological career when a young man.  Later in life he made skillful telescopic observations of Saturn in which he discovered four of its moons and a dark gap, a division, in its rings, subsequently named for him.  But he was a man born in a time when it was possible to be of two ‘minds’ about nature, one mind could be empirical and scientific and the other misled by pseudoscientific beliefs. 

Early in life, when Cassini cast horoscopes for his living, he was accustomed to thinking of the star patterns in the sky, where sun, moon and planets moved, as ‘signs’ of the zodiac.   As scientific astronomy became accepted, the star patterns were called constellations and the planets moved on a path called the ‘ecliptic,’ through some of them. Astronomy’s ecliptic was a place in space where physical bodies moved in front of background stars, unlike astrology’s zodiac where planets in signs were only important to a pre-scientific belief that a person’s character could be described by the planets’ placements among the signs.  But somehow, when Cassini was 58 years of age and objectively describing the constellations in which a triangular light appeared, he slipped back into his earlier pseudoscientific thinking mode and called them ‘zodiacal.’  Hence the light became ‘zodiacal’ and not ‘ecliptical.’  The term ‘stuck’ perhaps because of Cassini’s stature in the new science. 

Heliocentric vs. geocentric theories

During the two centuries since Cassini’s study of the ZL, the heliocentric theory evolved into the ‘meteoric theory.’  Herbert Alonzo Howe (1858-1926) summarized it in his 1896 college textbook; the ZL “is due to a countless host of meteoric bodies revolving about the sun, and constituting a huge figure resembling in shape a double convex lens.”  (2)

However, at the turn of the 20th century, there was another
viewpoint that was espoused by some astronomers, including Rev. Glanville.  This opposing view was that the ZL was located near Earth and with the Earth at its center; therefore these theories are Earth-centered (geocentric).  One version of these was advanced by Edward Emerson Barnard (1857-1923).  He believed that the ZL and a related phenomenon called the Gegenschein were atmospheric phenomena.  Because he thought the atmosphere surrounding the Earth was responsible, Barnard’s viewpoint is the ultimate in geocentric theories! 

Defending the opposition was Simon Newcomb (1835-1909); he believed that the observational facts demonstrated the validity of the heliocentric/ meteoric theory.  Simon Newcomb was, at the turn of the 20th century, President of the
 American Astronomical Society’s predecessor organization, and Superintendent of the Nautical Almanac Office in Washington, D.C.  His responsibilities were improved calculation of the planets and their moons’ orbits and the yearly production of the American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac, used in navigation and astronomical research.  He refined orbital calculations for Uranus and Neptune and thereby improved the ephemerides for them as well.  His views on astronomical matters were persuasive for many of his professional peers. (3)

Newcomb succinctly summarized the prevailing belief about the ZL in a 1905 paper to the Astrophysical Journal (ApJ).  “The ZL is commonly conceived and described as a phenomenon extending on both sides of the Sun, in or near the plane of the ecliptic…”  Newcomb was dissatisfied with that incomplete description and went on to write that the light’s “…possible breadth (was) left out of consideration, except as implied in the term ‘lens shaped,’ sometimes used to designate its form…the possible thickness of the lens has never been considered…”  He wanted to remedy that bit of ignorance and decided to travel to a site where he could make a “delineation of its complete outline” because he regarded this as “of prime importance in defining the ZL.”  After consulting with a Swiss geographer, he traveled to a Swiss mountain north of Lake Brienz to make his observation.  On the night of July 29, 1905, one of great clarity due to its elevation of 7700 feet, he was able to detect a glow on the northern horizon, which he believed was an extension of the ZL north of the sun.  In making this report he added that he believed there was also a similar glow to the south of the sun, “because there was no reasonable doubt of the symmetrical character of the (ZL).” He opined, based upon his night’s observation that the light’s “boundary is nowhere less than 35 degrees from the sun, and which is greatly elongated in the direction of the ecliptic.” (4)

Edward Emerson Barnard became an eminent astronomer after years of telescopic discoveries and his efforts to educate himself.  Whereas Newcomb was a skilled mathematician, Barnard’s accomplishments were in the observational realm.  He made his first comet discovery at age 23 with a telescope he bought with savings earned by long hours cranking the driving mechanism of a moveable room-sized camera apparatus so that it would keep pace with the sun’s movement.  Barnard’s many comet discoveries brought him fame that enabled him to leave his birthplace, Nashville, Tennessee, and join the astronomical staff at Lick and Yerkes Observatories where he was privileged to use the largest refracting telescopes in the world.  He continued to earn astronomical fame at Lick, where he used the 36-inch (91 cm.) diameter lens telescope, to discover the fifth moon of Jupiter, the first one since Galileo’s discovery of four moons almost three hundred years before. (5)

Barnard had an aptitude for making insightful interpretations of what he saw through the huge telescopes.  But he also realized the significance of what he saw while making casual observations of the night sky without the use of a telescope.  It was while taking a break from comet seeking that he first noticed the Gegenschein, an irregularly-shaped specter of light that is almost directly opposite the sun, in a dark night’s sky.  Barnard’s impression was that the glow was nearby rather than deep in space.  He theorized, the air on the sunlit side of the earth refracted and focused sunlight onto the air on earth’s night side, so that it appeared as a dim patch of light.  In 1919, Barnard confided to colleagues, “The Gegenschein has always seemed to me to be due in some way to a concentration of the sun’s light by refraction in the atmosphere as if the atmosphere acted as a spherical lens…The more I have studied the subject the more I am convinced that the Gegenschein is simply an illumination of our atmosphere by the sun’s light, through refraction.”  (6)

Barnard also ascribed an atmospheric explanation for Newcomb’s Swiss sighting of light over the north horizon in 1905.  Writing about his experience, Barnard reported, “I have observed for a week or two in midsummer a twilight glow passing along the north horizon for a couple of hours in the middle of the night.  I have watched this move from the west…to the east, being apparently the evening twilight passing along the north horizon…”  Newcomb responded to Barnard’s contrary opinion by admitting “there is of course no absolute proof that the light visible along the north horizon at midnight…is not a form of twilight.  The phenomenon of meteors shows that the atmosphere…surrounds the earth to a height of more than 100 or perhaps 200 miles.  The reflection of the sun’s rays from this rare atmosphere would produce a similar effect…”  However, Newcomb was apparently unable to accept his own conciliatory statement because he finished his response to Barnard by writing, “but I think this is not the cause of the phenomenon…” (7)

It was clear that mere arguments would not resolve the theoretical dispute because the observational evidence was equivocal.  Newcomb and Barnard watched the same phenomenon and drew opposite conclusions about its source.  Still, astronomers continued the attempt at a resolution by any means available at the time.  In 1909, one astronomer, Edward Arthur Fath (1880-1959), took a long-exposure photograph of the spectrum produced when ZL was passed through a spectroscope.  When a comparison of the light’s spectrum with the sun’s was made there was an excellent agreement.  Fath concluded, “we … seem to have good evidence to support the claim that the ZL is reflected sunlight”: the heliocentric, meteoric theory about the light’s origin was strengthened.(8)  However, as late as 1923, the editor of the Astronomical Journal, Lewis Boss (1846-1912), reviewed many observational studies, including Fath’s, and did not believe the meteoric theory was proven.  Instead, he called for more studies. (9)

The meteoric-atmospheric theory conflict continued through the early and middle 20th century because there was no means to make a conclusive
 experimental observation from above the earth’s atmosphere.  The issue would be decided if one or the other of the two following events occurred. 1) The atmosphere would be judged the ZL’s origin if the ZL could not be seen from outside the atmosphere on the Earth’s night side.  2), But, if the ZL was detected around the sun from a position above the atmosphere, the atmosphere was ruled out as the cause and the phenomenon would be judged heliocentric.

Satellite Studies

By the 1960s a tacit assumption seemed to have been made that the ZL’s cause was located around the sun.  So it is not surprising that satellite-born instruments were trained on the sun to investigate the ZL.  Space-sited instrumental studies of the light began in 1967 (10) according to the bibliographical search engine of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory/ National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Astrophysical Data System (SAO/NASA ADS).

In one, a 1968 study of the ZL was made by an experiment onboard the Orbiting Solar Observatory.  The experiment’s purpose was to “to monitor the direction and intensity of polarized and unpolarized ZL in red and blue light.”  The satellite was chosen as the best observation platform because it was to be “outside the earth’s atmosphere.” (11)  So, the OSO’s was one experiment that decided the theoretical dispute: the light was caused by particles reflecting the sun’s light. The OSO results were published in a 1968 and a 1972 paper in Astrophysical Journal. (12,13)

Current knowledge about the light

The most recent development, in 2010 is not itself the result of another observational study but one from the use of many previous studies.  ZL and interplanetary dust data from satellite studies were entered into a computer model of the zodiacal dust disk that surrounds the sun.  The model’s designers sought to learn how data known about the zodiacal dust could have come about.  Investigators learned that ten percent of the dust was derived from asteroids colliding with each other.  But, they learned that 90% of the zodiacal dust particles come from a group of comets which were gravitationally captured by Jupiter. These ‘Jupiter Family Comets’ (JFCs) range above and below the ecliptic plane in the same volume of space that the zodiacal dust cloud inhabits.  As these comets disintegrate, their dust particles populate the cloud, and when illuminated by the sun their reflection is the ZL.  The study reported that the dust particles were from 1/10th to 2/10ths
 of a millimeter (100 to 200 micrometers) in size and that the particles extend one-half a billion miles outward from the sun, up to Jupiter’s orbit.  This means that the Earth, along with Mercury, Venus and Mars orbit the sun among this swarm of particles. (14)

Reverend W.E. Glanville (1866-1933)


William Ewart Glanville was born at his paternal grandmother’s home in London, England at St. George Hanover Square.  He was born to Sarah Ewart and John Reed Glanville on January 30, 1866. (15) His father was a coach-builder and came from a family that lived in Cornwall for several generations.  I could find no information about Sarah Ewart but she and John were married in London in early 1865. (16)

In July 1870 John and Sarah took William and his five-month-old sister to New Zealand, arriving in October.  Shipboard passage was arranged for them as ‘assisted emigrants’ to the New Zealand Colony which England hoped to populate.   In 1871 they were among the 256,000 residents of the Colony and of the 47,000 residents of the Canterbury Province surrounding Christchurch. (17)  In 1902, William told the townsfolk who hosted a birthday party for him that the first home his father built for the family was ‘built of earth,’ followed by a frame house raised on the same site. New Zealand was his home until he was 14-years-old when his parents sent him back to England for better educational opportunities than he could get in the Colony. (18)

Glanville’s first recorded action in England was to enroll in University College of Bristol (UCB) at age 16, on June 7, 1882.  The College’s records show that he was to study inorganic chemistry. UCB’s records show that during the 1882-1883 terms, young Mr. Glanville was a poor student, scoring 27/100 on a mathematics examination, 34/100 in natural philosophy (physics), 25/168 in French, and 14/100 in Latin. (19) In a 1907 letter to Edward Emerson Barnard, Glanville recalled attending a series of lectures given in 1882 by astronomy popularizer Richard Anthony Proctor (1837-1888); Glanville credited Proctor for eliciting his interest in astronomy.

In May, 1883 Bristol Baptist College’s (BBC) admissions committee accepted 17-year-old Glanville to study for the ministry.  Glanville may have been influenced to become a Baptist minister by the example of his paternal uncle, William (1846-1915).  In 1883, Uncle William and his family lived in southern England, on the Isle of Wight.  BBC had an arrangement with UCB whereby BBC’s students were able to take liberal arts classes while they studied theology, the Bible, and church administration at BBC. Glanville did not take examinations in all the terms he could have while at UCB’s Classical and Mathematical Department and his performance on the exams he sat for continued to be poor.  For the 1883-1884 terms, his exam marks were 49/200 and 40/145 in mathematics, 23/100 in experimental physics, 6/100 and 8/100 in Greek and Latin respectively, 20/166 in French, 40/100 in chemistry, and 43/100 in geology.  UBC records show that he did not take final exams in 1885 and it is not clear if he attended classes that year.  UBC records do not show a degree being awarded to Mr. Glanville. (19)

At BBC, Glanville’s 1883-5 courses and examination marks were in Hebrew, 34/100; New Testament, 65/100; Church History (A.D. 323-1000), 76/100, Sermons, 87/100; the Epistle to the Romans, 69/100.  BBC records do not show that Mr. Glanville was awarded a degree; however because he passed its examinations, he was allowed to secure a pastorate in the Baptist Church. (19)

Twenty-year-old Rev. Glanville may have felt elated; he had attended two colleges and been sanctioned to begin a career in the ministry.  1886 was to be a memorable year for him.  Glanville began work at his first pastorate in Coate, Oxfordshire, England.  The future must have looked bright because the young man married 18-year-old Elizabeth Purdy Millet on October 4, 1886.  Three years later, Glanville was pastor of a Baptist Church in Wells, Somersetshire. (19)  Unfortunately, good events were not to continue and the Glanvilles’ marriage failed and Elizabeth sued for divorce in September 1890. (20)  About the same time, William made arrangements to lead a church in the United States.  By late 1890 or early 1891, he had arrived in Sheldon, Iowa. (21)

The years 1880-1890 were filled with important events: world travel, an education more advanced than most 19th century people had, the inauguration
 of a life-long career in the ministry, an exposure to astronomy, ministering to his flocks’ spiritual and human needs, and sad familiarity with how human relationships can deteriorate.


Sheldon, in western Iowa was the town that needed a Baptist minister.  The town was founded in 1872 and named for Israel Sheldon a New York City stockholder of the Sioux City and St. Paul Railway.  When the railroad’s construction crew reached the site company surveyors selected for the village, it was built.(21) Sheldon was only 360 miles (580 km.) east of Wounded Knee Creek, Dakota Territory, and the site of the massacre of Sioux Indians by the U.S. Army on December 29, 1890.  Glanville’s arrival date is uncertain but it is possible that it was nearly coincident with Wounded Knee; his arrival could not have been more than a few weeks later, in January 1891.

Glanville’s life in Sheldon is mostly undocumented.  However, one finding is that he attended the Sioux City College of Law 60 miles away and must have commuted by rail, in order to do so.  The College was part of the University of the Northwest in Sioux City, Iowa.  The University’s centennial history reported that the law school had a class of 14 students in January 1891 and at graduation on June 23, 1892, William E. Glanville was one of seven men to earn a LL.B, a bachelor of laws degree.  Glanville was probably fortunate to earn his degree when he did because the University was teetering on the edge of insolvency and by February 1893 was unable to pay instructors and dining room staff left due to non-payment. (22)  Glanville later reported that he made good use of his legal education, “I studied the law … and have been admitted to the bar by the Supreme Court of Iowa… (and) became as familiar with (U.S.) laws as most men who were native born.”  Given this preparation it was not a surprise to read a 1905 report that he practiced law, as well as the ministry, before he left Sheldon. (23)

While on the topic of Rev. Glanville’s post-college education I must question and ultimately doubt a claim he made of possessing a Ph.D.  I have given details about his poor academic performance in England which alone cast doubt upon the possibility of him being accepted to an English Ph.D. program.  And, indeed, inquiries to six English university archivists revealed he had not earned a Ph.D. at any of them.  When he lived in Iowa 1891-1895 he was a student at the Sioux City College of Law until late June, 1892 (22), and an active minister and lawyer in Sheldon in the years immediately thereafter.  Further, there was no university within 200 miles of Sheldon that had a faculty capable of offering and conferring a Ph.D. in 1895, as he claimed in a 1914 resume he provided to the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland. Yet, Glanville continued to make a claim to a doctorate throughout the remainder of his life and he took the claim to his grave: his grave marker bears the inscription ‘Dr. W.E. Glanville.’  To put it most charitably, I do not know how he acquired a doctorate by 1895; it is a puzzle I was not able to solve despite weeks of attempts to do so.  And Glanville himself does not aid the historian because he did not specify from where the Ph.D. came; he simply asserted that he had one.

In June, 1895 Glanville moved from Sheldon, eastward across Iowa to become pastor of the Anamosa, Iowa Baptist Church.  By the time he arrived he had married a second time.  His new wife was the former Ida Bassett Pooler, a widow who was six years his senior.  Ida (1860-1944) was a widow who brought a daughter, Rae (1889-1962), to the union; and this marriage endured until Rev. Glanville died in 1933.  Ida was a Daughter of the American Revolution and her family tradition, in addition to his law training, may have induced Glanville to become a U.S. citizen on October 6, 1898.  In November 1896, the Glanvilles had a son, John Ewart (1896-1932). (24, 25, 26)


Anamosa’s newspapers had frequent articles about Rev. Glanville’s activities and judging by them he was a dutiful pastor and active citizen in the little town of 2,000 people in 1890.  Often, Rev. Glanville posted notices about the time of religious services and sermons.  In two of these, in March 1896 and February 1897, he identified himself as having a Ph.D.  An 1899 report about one of his public talks praised him as being a “talented and broad-gauged” speaker and temperate in his remarks about a prominent man who had been a severe critic of Christianity and its history.  Glanville’s sermons impressed news reporters too and they were often repeated verbatim in print after a service.  He also lent his oratorical talents to public lectures, “Discourses on Science,” and gave a free series of them, in the county court house, from January to April 1897; one in January was entitled “the Midnight Sky,” an early hint of his astronomical interests.  One newspaper reported that his talks were “superb.” (23)

The Anamosa papers frequently mentioned his pastoral activities, from visiting the sick, to officiating at marriages and funerals.  He arranged a public farewell for a fellow clergyman who retired in March 1902, participated in a Christmas 1902 ecumenical religious service and in April 1903 helped the Presbyterian Church to begin its ministry in Anamosa.  He agreed to substitute for the Anamosa State Prison’s chaplain who went on leave in September 1902.  The Anamosa Eureka reported, on September 25th, “Mr. Glanville attended to the prison daily; visiting the sick…speaking
 kind words to the inmates…the genial and friendly manner of Mr. Glanville (made) pleasant recollections of him.”  In a March 1902 edition of the Anamosa Eureka, Rev. Glanville was quoted about his ministerial philosophy.  He remarked, “A minister’s work is multifarious and laborious.  If faithful to his duty he cannot have a lazy bone in his body.  Special calls for service sometimes require him to work seven days a week and far on into the night…The minister does not pose in the community as a money-maker.  Of course there is no sin in making money (but) there is no special piety in poverty.  If a person is condemned it is not for being rich but for being mean…Not as a money-maker, then, but as a dealer in spiritual verities does the minister stand in the community.”  So with the foregoing body of good works, it is no wonder that on his 36th birthday in 1902, 40 friends and
 townspeople surprised him with a party, a gold watch and purse as mementoes of their affection and respect. (23, 27)


In 1904, the reverend moved his family to another congregation that was building a church in West Pullman, near Chicago.  Unfortunately, an economic downturn put many congregants out of work and the church building could not be completed.  So, deprived of a church for his ministry, Glanville relied upon his legal training and experience and taught law at an Illinois law college in Chicago in 1905-6. (28)

When he returned to the ministry, Rev. Glanville had adopted the Episcopal faith.  He was ordained a deacon in 1907 and a priest in 1908 in the Episcopal Diocese of Iowa.  His first parish was in Farley, Iowa in 1907 where he was a missionary for the Episcopal Church.  He also reported being assistant pastor at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Dubuque, Iowa 1908-1909.  After this three-year absence from Illinois, he returned as rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Sycamore, Illinois from 1909-1913. (29)  Rev. Glanville’s flock in Sycamore was genuinely touched by his work among them because in 2012 St. Peter’s staff members sent me a helpful history about the reverend and his family.  Their predecessors a century ago cared enough about him to maintain the record.

In 1907, while living in Chicago, Glanville began a correspondence with E. E. Barnard.  In an April 26, 1907 letter to Barnard, Glanville documented his self-education in astronomy by listing the authors whose texts he had read:  “Herschel, Airy, Lockyer, Ball, Flammarion, Mitchell, Young, Proctor, and Comstock.”  Rev. Glanville admitted that he did “not profess to be a mathematical astronomer (but) simply an amateur observational astronomer.”   Nevertheless, he asked Barnard’s sponsorship to join England’s Royal Astronomical Society. (30)  Glanville and Barnard corresponded intermittently from 1907 until Barnard’s death in 1923.  Rev. Glanville seemed most interested in learning Barnard’s theory about the cause of the ZL and sought Barnard’s support in contradicting the prevailing meteoric theory.

Although Rev. Glanville’s extensive writings on religious issues are outside the themes of this blog, one of his articles relates to a ‘heavenly,’ if not astronomical topic.  His 1911 article, ‘A Modern View of the Hereafter,’ is interesting because he argued that advances in science, notably in astronomy and evolution, made obsolete centuries-old concepts of reward and punishment, or reincarnation, after death. Perhaps not coincidental was the death of his mother-in-law in February, 1911, the same month his article appeared in The Biblical World magazine. (31)


Reverend Glanville relocated his family to Solomons, Maryland in January 1914. There, he was rector of St. Peter’s Episcopal Church until 1918. (29)  Solomons today is a trendy riverside village, at the far southern end of western-shore Maryland, where the Patuxent River empties into Chesapeake Bay.  It has been discovered by well-to-do retirees, vacationers, boaters, and recreational fishermen.  But, in the 1910s, when Glanville served there as an Episcopal priest, it was isolated from the rest of Maryland and populated by a close-knit citizenry of 400 who engaged in a busy oyster fishing and packing industry as well as shipbuilding.  It was not until 1915 that the state built a road to Solomons connecting it to the village’s county seat in Prince Frederick.  Access to Baltimore was by way of a twice-a-week steamboat.  The telephone arrived in Solomons in 1899, the first automobile in 1910, but it was not until 1928 that electricity came to it. (32)

However for Glanville, the zealot of the ZL, Solomons had an undoubted virtue: it was very dark at night.  He later wrote that he became “especially interested in” the ZL’s causation when he arrived in Solomons in 1914. (33)  A January 14, 1915 letter to E.E. Barnard revealed that Glanville had been able to “trace the ZL easily from the (western) horizon to Taurus about 7 o’clock each cloudless evening” during the preceding week.  The significance of his remark is that he was able to detect the light from the western horizon almost completely across the sky to a point about halfway above the eastern horizon, about 135 degrees of angular measurement on the sky!  He asked Barnard if the famous astronomer had had an opportunity to see the light from Williams Bay, Wisconsin, where Barnard was on the staff of Yerkes Observatory.  Glanville also continued topics he had started in a November 21, 1914 letter to probe Barnard’s recollections about the “size and brightness of 1) of the Gegenschein and 2) of the ZL at Earth’s perihelion (nearest orbital point to the sun) and aphelion (furthest point), or at times of sunspot maximum and minimum.”   The 1914 letter revealed that Glanville was attempting to marshal observational evidence for a theory that the ZL (ZL) was actually located 850,000-one million miles from earth, a ‘near-earth’ theory, and not heliocentric as Newcomb and Cassini long before him believed. 

Barnard kept 20 letters sent by Glanville during the Solomons period, 1914-1918 and they reveal that Glanville was intensely focused on the ZL phenomenon and its possible causes.  During the same time period, Rev. Glanville “contributed regular observations” to the ZL section of the British Astronomical Association (BAA), reporting ZL sightings in 1916 and 1917 which were quoted verbatim.  Glanville also reported several Gegenschein sightings to the BAA, which were fully quoted, in 1916.  He contributed one sighting that he believed was a ‘lunar ZL’ caused by the soon-to-rise full moon, but the BAA section director commented that such a report “is difficult to believe … (that it) can be due to the full moon.” (34)

Genesis of Glanville’s earth-ring theory

Rev. Glanville published several papers 1915-1918, in Popular Astronomy (PA), a journal published monthly 10-times per year by Goodsell Observatory at Carleton College in Northfield, Minnesota.  PA published articles by professional and amateur astronomers alike and was a very useful vehicle for disseminating astronomical findings, news, predictions, theoretical discussions and the like from 1892-1951.  The journal published material that ranged from the rigorously mathematical in basis to other matter that seemed to have a feasible rationale, but the editor made no claim to vet the latter such submissions for scientific credibility, or to have suspect articles reviewed by experts in the relevant specialty.  Articles were probably not ‘peer reviewed’ in the current sense.  Glanville’s first article in 1915, “The ZL, its Place in the Solar System”, was an argument in favor of the ‘earth ring’ theory which he believed fit observational facts gleaned by himself and other observers of the ZL.  He explained that the earth ring was a geocentric belt of material between the moon and the Earth.  He believed it was “comparable, say, to the “crepe” ring of Saturn.”  Saturn’s crepe ring was a well-observed faint ellipse of light inside the brighter and more prominent Saturnian rings.  Glanville further elaborated about the earth ring, “it is not intended that the ZL band corresponds in every respect to the crape ring of Saturn…(but) the points of resemblance suggested by the word ‘comparable’ are 1) that like Saturn’s ‘crape ring’, the ZL is a planetary ring and 2)…it is well-nigh transparent.”  Later in the article, Glanville concluded, “the theory of the earth ring fits the (observational) facts more fully than any other theory.” (35)

Glanville mentioned that he was supported in his beliefs by the similar conclusions of Rev. George Jones, A.M. (1800-1870), a U.S. Navy Chaplain, who watched the ZL from aboard ship for two years, 1853-1855.  Jones was “not a professional astronomer but…a man of scholarly aptitudes, of masculine common sense…his skill and trustworthiness (were) attested by professors of astronomy and mathematics of that day at Harvard, Yale and the U.S. Naval Academy.” (35)  It may be that Glanville identified with Jones because of how similar he perceived himself personally to be to Jones. It may be too that Glanville arrived at his conclusions in a similar way to Jones, having made some observations at sea during his voyage to England from New Zealand or from England to the U.S.  He described the evolution of Jones’ thinking as follows,

“While strenuously resolved not to begin his observations with any preconceived theory of the place of the ZL in the solar system, Chaplain Jones states that after a few month’s observations, strive as he might, he could not banish the thought that it is an earth ring and this thought ripened into conviction by the time the cruise ended” (35)

Similarities between Jones’ life and Glanville’s in terms of profession, education, favored celestial subject, and nautical life experience may have made the earth-ring hypothesis overwhelming in its persuasiveness to Glanville.

Glanville’s advocacy for ZL research

Edward E. Barnard was the first professional astronomer approached by Glanville to create a coordinated ZL research effort.  Specifically, Glanville asked if a western hemispheric research group could be “organized under the auspices of the Yerkes Observatory and particularly under your personal direction.”  This was a suggestion made in a July 21, 1915 letter by Rev. Glanville.  Barnard was not able to gratify Glanville’s wish.  But Glanville did not relinquish his hopes.

Glanville tried to advance ZL study by further articles published in PA.  In its 1917 volume (page 143), Glanville published a “scheme for ZL reports” in which he suggested aspects of the phenomenon that were important to note.  Published in the same volume (page 315), he advocated for a coordinated, systematic observational program that would request observers’ cooperation “according to a pre-arranged plan of work, both at sea level and high altitudes, under the supervision of two standard observatories one north and one south of the equator (and)…it would be well if the ZL sections of various societies could arrange for such coordination of their energies.”  The proposal was a scaled-up version of the plan he had urged Dr. Barnard to undertake in 1915.  Glanville made the grander proposal in person at the 20th
 meeting of the American Astronomical Society which met in New York City, December 27-29, 1916; he was elected a member earlier the same year. (36)  Glanville’s fervor for the theory was such that he travelled 300 miles to preach it; he was a ‘missionary’ in the camp of the professional astronomers.

Glanville was not content to make one appeal, however.  In a January 25, 1917 letter to Barnard, Glanville repeated his desire for the program proposed at the 1916 AAS meeting.  He complained that ZL research “at present, what work is being done, is too desultory and lacks coordinate cooperation.”   Glanville dismissed published ZL photographs by Andrew E. Douglass (1867-1962) at Lowell Observatory by writing “(the photographs) while interesting add nothing to our knowledge.”  Glanville apparently considered himself the foremost thinker about the nature of the ZL and seemed to grow impatient with professionals’ indifference to the research proposals and information requests that he made.  He remarked in the January 25 letter that Professors Percival Lowell (1855-1916) and Vesto Melvin Slipher (1875-1969) at Lowell Observatory had postponed operationalizing a research suggestion he made “years ago.” He remarked peevishly that George Ellery Hale (1868-1938), the foremost astrophysicist at the turn of the 20th century had ignored
 his request for a description of the ZL from Mt. Wilson Observatory.  Instead of answering Glanville directly, Hale referred Glanville to Barnard.   And long-suffering Barnard was also a target for Glanville’s displeasure when on one occasion Barnard did not provide information that Glanville requested; he wrote Barnard on January 17, 1917, “Your reply to my letter scarcely covers the question on which I desire information.”  And about his proposal for world-wide coordination of research, he wrote in a March 1, 1917 letter, “I am still hopeful that by continued agitation two…observatories…may be induced to prosecute investigations…in each hemisphere.”

I would be distorting Rev. Glanville’s character if I did not more fully comment about his letters to Barnard.  Glanville was not always a barbarian assaulting professional astronomy’s ramparts.  Glanville unfailingly expressed gratitude and good wishes towards Barnard, in all 31 of the letters that Barnard retained.  The letters quoted in January to March 1917 above appear to have been written in an isolated period in which Glanville’s preoccupation with knowing the ZL’s secrets overwhelmed his ability to be socially appropriate.  After the 1917 crisis, Glanville relented and contented himself with continued requests of the famous astronomer for more observational anecdotes that Glanville appeared to believe would confirm his pet earth-ring theory.  But he was not only a ‘taker,’ Glanville also ‘gave back;’ when Barnard asked him to measure sky positions of Gegenschein observations in his log, Glanville did so in a letter dated March 30, 1917.  Notes Barnard made upon Glanville’s letter with the sky coordinates show that Barnard took Glanville’s data seriously and added it to his own database.  In this matter, Rev. Glanville was a contributor to astronomical knowledge; he was an independent researcher who made thorough, well-documented observations. 

For his part, Barnard seemed to hold no animosity towards Glanville for the episode above and for almost 20 years of requests by Glanville.  The written record suggests that Barnard was cordial in dealings with the Maryland amateur and Rev. Glanville’s letters reveal that he visited Barnard at Yerkes Observatory on August 14, 1917.  When Barnard died on February 7, 1923, Glanville lost a friend.

Service to other Maryland parishes

Solomons’ dark sky was a powerful stimulus to Glanville’s astronomical efforts, but he forsook it to become rector of Holy Innocents Episcopal Church on Eden Street under Baltimore’s light polluted sky.  He lived in ‘Charm City,’ as its natives called it, from 1919-1927, and he confided in 1930, that “I was transferred to Baltimore where for the following seven years I was unable to continue systematic observations.” (37)

Glanville’s publication rate in PA dropped severely during his stay in Baltimore; he wrote only two articles from 1919 to 1927.  However, the local press became familiar with the city’s clergyman-astronomer and printed his views on astronomical topics.  Rev. Glanville’s first interview was an attack on Einstein’s theory of general relativity; “Rev. Dr. W.E. Glanville says entire doctrine will have to be toned down,” printed the Baltimore Sun on April 22, 1921.  The Sun described Glanville as a “well-known astronomer.”  The reporter quoted the reverend’s dismissive view of General Relativity theory, “(It) will either find its proper place in the store of scientific knowledge or will be exploded altogether.  Such a theory is brought forward from time to time, inflated like a great, beautiful bubble.  There have been scores of them.”  Glanville was apparently still assessing the virtues of Einstein’ work two months later and asked Dr. Barnard his opinion.  Barnard’s reply in a June 15th letter was modest, “It has been stated that there were only 12 men in the world who understand Einstein, I am not the 13th.”

In 1928, Rev. William and Ida Glanville moved to New Market, Maryland in rural Frederick County.  Rev. Glanville became rector of Grace Episcopal Church and for Linganore and Zion parishes and he served there until his death on March 8, 1933.  The small town had dark skies and Glanville was able to watch the ZL again.  His return to dark skies was coincidental with an opportunity he was given by Curvin Henry Gingrich (1880-1951), editor of Popular Astronomy (PA).  Rev. Glanville was to be a compiler of readers’ ZL reports and would analyze them for Gingrich to publish.  Glanville invited January 1928 PA readers to submit observations and to specify “the boundaries of the light, its elongation from the sun, any changes in its intensity, the condition of the atmosphere, the (watch session’s) exact time and of observation…(and) a diagram of each observation showing the starry background of the heavens against which the ZL was seen would be of added interest.” The invitation was issued in the January 1928 issue of PA and cooperative amateur astronomers began to file reports soon after.  This role was one that Glanville was eager to carry out and offered him an opportunity to coordinate worldwide ZL research.  His ‘Zodiacal Light Notes’ (ZLN) column appeared several times a year from January 1928-early 1933.

In an early 1932 ZLN column, Glanville mentioned that “slow recovery from illness” had prevented him from making as many observations as he wanted.  Then, Rev. Glanville’s son, John Ewart, who was born in Anamosa in 1896 died on April 8, 1932.    A year later, Editor Gingrich sent a letter to Glanville inquiring why a ZLN column was late being received.  He was informed that Rev. Glanville had died suddenly on March 8, 1933. (38) The 1934 Episcopal Convention Journal had a brief obituary which noted, in part, “(Rev. Glanville was) studious in habit, retiring in disposition, he did not mingle much with his brother clergymen, giving himself to his people and his books, but all who knew him intimately loved him deeply.”  Rev. Edward Helfenstein, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland conducted the funeral services and noted in his journal for March 10, 1933, “Grace (Church), New Market, conducted Dr. Glanville’s funeral.  Interment (was) at Baltimore Cemetery.”

Rev. Glanville’s ZL Notes

Rev, Glanville published forty-five of the ZLNs in PA from1928 to1933.  They were the means of gratifying his desire to assemble and analyze ZL observations from the entire globe.  The opportunity to do so was one he wanted ever since 1915.  Recall that in the 1920s and 1930s it was not known whether the ZL was a geocentric or a heliocentric phenomenon.  So, Glanville was eager to encourage observation and, he hoped, greatly advance understanding of the ZL and resolve the mystery of its location in the solar system. 

When he coordinated PA’s column, Glanville was still a geocentrist, believing that the ZL was located around the Earth, rather than around the sun as most professional astronomers believed.  In 1930, he published a ZLN (37) in which he elaborated on E.E. Barnard’s atmospheric theory.   Surprisingly, Glanville wrote that the atmosphere’s refractive qualities caused the ZL as well as the Gegenschein; both were the result of sunlight being focused by the optical properties of Earth’s atmosphere.  He ignored the earth-ring theory of which he had been so fond in1915 and which he had defended so strongly.  Now, instead of praising the earth-ring theory, he was a partisan for the atmospheric one.  Now, instead of the ZL being located between the Earth and the moon, as he believed in 1915, it was located as close as our air.  Without explicitly stating the reason for his change of mind, Glanville commented, “The following (endorsement of atmospheric theory is) presented as a small tribute to the memory of a foremost observational astronomer whose manly kindness was unwearied to the last.  One needs, so to speak, to live with the ZL and Gegenschein in order to attain the direct, intelligent familiarity essential to form the basis of a theory.  This Professor Barnard did for more than 30 years.” (37)  The majority of the ZLNs contained contributors’ descriptions of the ZL made during observations.  The ZL’s size in the sky, how bright it was compared to the Milky Way, whether most of its area was north or south of the ecliptic, impressions of color, and whether it shimmered or not were the most frequent contents in observer reports.  In many ZLNs, Glanville printed Gegenschein descriptions too.  Glanville also reported recent scientific studies, usually spectroscopic ones of the ZL and what was discovered thereby.  The quoted studies all seemed to confirm Fath’s 1908 result that the ZL’s light was reflected sunlight.  However the newer studies also reported detections of atmospheric influences in the ZL.  One theoretical paper maintained that ultra-violet light produced effects in atmospheric gases which resulted in the ZL. So, an atmospheric theorist could yet argue that the new studies partially upheld the theorist’s beliefs.

Rev. Glanville’s ZLNs did not result in any final resolution of the geocentric vs. heliocentric conflict.  Instead they were a column in which observers were able to share their work.  Glanville was successful in realizing one long-desired hope however: observers from the southern hemisphere as well as the north contributed observations.  Observers from New Zealand, Australia and South Africa regularly sent reports to him, in addition to reports from Missouri, Texas, Kentucky, Maryland, Japan, Mexico and Ukraine.  Glanville was able to make one generalization from the bi-hemispheric reporting; it was that northern hemisphere watchers tended to see the ZL mostly north of the ecliptic and southern watchers saw it mostly south of the ecliptic.  Another gratifying result was that professional astronomers supported his efforts too.  Professor Leah B. Allen of Hood College, Maryland, Willard J. Fisher of Harvard College Observatory, E.O. Hulbert of the Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C.,  Ivan L. Thomsen of Dominion Observatory, New Zealand, and Professor Issei Yamamoto from the Imperial University, Kyoto, Japan contributed bibliographies, observations or scientific reports.

Glanville’s historical context: astronomers’ ZL observations 1890-1930

There were at least two English-language amateur astronomical societies that monitored the ZL during the 1900-1930 time period.  These were the Society for Practical Astronomy (SPA) in the USA and the British Astronomical Association (BAA) in the UK. 

Alan Philip Carson Craig (1898-1959) served as the SPA’s coordinator of  ZL and Gegenschein observers’ efforts to monitor these phenomena.  He published two reports of this SPA section’s results, in 1913 and 1915.  The reports were published in the SPA’s Monthly Register, and Craig published the 1915 summary in Popular Astronomy that same year. (39) The SPA disbanded during World War I, ending organized efforts to monitor the ZL and Gegenschein in the U.S. until after the war.  This void was what Rev. Glanville hoped to fill and his publications (1915-1918) and appeals to the American Astronomical Society (1916-1917) were the attempts he made to accomplish the goal. 

Gavin J. Burns, B.Sc. (circa 1880-1933) served as Director of the BAA’s Aurorae and ZL Section from about 1914 until his death in 1933.  As early as 1903, he noted British observers’ interest in the ZL and he published an article, ‘The Zodiacal Light,’ describing his observational results for 1903 using an optical aid.  The device allowed him to make quantitative measurements of the ZL’s brightness and the night sky’s illumination.  When the sky’s measurement was subtracted from the ZL’s, the numerical difference was a quantitative expression of the ZL’s relative brightness intensity.  Previous to his innovation, observers were only able to estimate the ZL’s brightness according to their own standard; Burns believed his innovation was the first of its kind. (40)  Although Burns inaugurated an instrumental means of measurement, BAA observers ignored it, perhaps believing that human judgment using an optical device was just as flawed as judgment without one.  Nevertheless, his was a creative means of quantifying a judgment that before was only made in descriptive terms.

Burns compiled a first Section report in 1914, in which he listed, verbatim, ZL reports made by BAA members published in the first 20 volumes of Journal of the BAA (JBAA).  ZL observations dating back to 1880 were listed.  In the same report, Burns published BAA members’ observations 1911-12, summarized the recent results as to the ZL’s form, intensity, and color. (41)  Burns’ narrative reveals that he adhered to the heliocentric theory concerning the ZL’s location in the solar system. 

Burns’ second Section report, published in 1921, was for the years 1916-April 1919 and also some from 1913-1915.  “W.E. Glanville (Dr.)” contributed observations that he made during 1916 and 1917 to this report. (42)  Curiously, Glanville did not use the title ‘Rev.’ with his name when he reported to the BAA.  Burns’ Section report listed the names of all contributors and each of their observations was reported in detail as they wrote them.  Rev. Glanville copied Burns’ report style when he wrote ‘Zodiacal Light Notes’ in the late 1920s and early 1930s. 

Gavin Burns continued to publish the BAA Section reports until his death (43), although after 1921, they appeared annually by ‘session’ of the BAA in its Journal.  The Section’s work continued after Burns’ death.  Considered as a body of data, it is clear that generations of BAA members showed commitment to ZL monitoring and recording from 1890 to 1933, the years surveyed for this history.  In addition, Section Director Burns retrieved and published ZL observations dating 10 years before the BAA was founded in 1890.

Another way to assess astronomers’ scholarly interest in the ZL was to count the number of times ‘zodiacal light’ appeared in the titles of astronomical articles published in amateur and professional journals.  The table below is a tabulation of such articles 1900-1939.  The source of the data below is the bibliographical search engine of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory/ National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Astrophysical Data System (SAO/NASA ADS).  Numbers appearing in the column ‘No. articles,’ below, are the number of articles produced by ADS when ‘zodiacal light’ was entered into the engine; the total number of articles for the period 1900-1939 was 195.  The accuracy of the total, 195 is limited by the comprehensiveness of ADS’ bibliographic inventory.  The reader should note that the quantity in the column ‘No. Years’ is the number of years in the decade to its left that journals contained articles with ‘zodiacal light’ in the title; e.g., in the years 1920-1929 journals contained ‘zodiacal light’ in titles in only seven years.  The ‘No. by Glanville’ column contains a count of the articles published by Rev. Glanville, e.g. he wrote 16 articles 1920-1929.  The ‘Net No. Articles’ column contains the number of articles in the decade from which the number of Glanville’s articles is subtracted, e.g. for 1920-1929 sixteen articles were published by authors other than Glanville.  An additional clarification is that journal authors in the ADS list were professional as well as amateur astronomers who lived in the U.S. and a few countries in Europe and Asia.  A very few articles’ titles were in a language other than English (but the word ‘zodiacal’ was recognizable).


Decade            No. Years        No. Articles    No. byGlanville            Net No. Articles 

1900-1909              9                           29                   0                                 29

1910-1919              9                           26                   6                                 20

1920-1929              7                           32                   16                                16

1930-1939            10                           108                  28                                80

Totals                   35                           195                  50                               145

Assuming for the moment that the numbers in the table are a comprehensive listing of articles,a few comments can be made.  The decadal totals in the ‘No. Articles’ column are almost the same 1900-1929, indicating a stable production of scholarly articles about the ZL.  The decade 1930-1939 witnessed an approximately three-fold increase in articles compared to numbers in earlier decades.  A similar comment can be made for numbers in the ‘Net No. Articles’ column, except that decade1930-1939 is four times greater than 1910-1919 and it is five times greater than 1920-1929.  It should be noted that the last column represents ‘non-Glanville’ articles, so the increase in articles in the 1930s decade is remarkable indeed.  It is unclear exactly which factors in the astronomical community were responsible for stimulating such an increase of ZL articles in the 1930s.  I do not believe Glanville’s writings were directly responsible for the increase.  However, the increasing number of articles written by Glanville in the 1920s and 1930s may have drawn other astronomers’ attention to the ZL phenomenon.  The fact that he wrote 25% of the total number of articles written 1900-1939 probably made him moderately well-known in journals, like Popular Astronomy, read by professionals and amateurs alike.

Assessment of  W.E. Glanville’s contributions to understanding the zodiacal light

Rev. Glanville was a capable proponent and organizer of ZL observation and study.  His ‘Zodiacal Light Notes’ column in Popular Astronomy attracted observational reports from all over the world and he was able to enlist the assistance of professional astronomers as well as amateurs’.  And, because he published in Popular Astronomy, he was able to keep the ZL’s location debate in front of professional astronomy, which may have stimulated some scientific research.

Glanville, himself, was a skilled observer and he published many of his own observations which he made in the 1920s and 1930s.  He was also successful in encouraging others to study and report their observations of the ZL.   

Although Glanville wanted to make scientific advances in the field, he did not, perhaps because he was ill-prepared in mathematics and advanced scientific training.  Likewise, space-based discoveries showed that his instincts failed him because he favored a geocentric theory for the ZL.  Like Ptolemy’s better-known geocentric theory (that heavenly bodies orbited the earth), ZL geocentric theory was doomed to be discredited.

Copyright 2013 Richard Taibi          


I owe a great deal of thanks to more than a score of university archivists and community librarians for biographical and academic information about Rev. W.E. Glanville.  Without their assistance and suggestions, Glanville’s biography would have been very brief.  My thanks go especially to Mary Klein, Episcopal Diocese of Maryland’s archivist, who provided Rev. Glanville’s Episcopal Church resume.  It was the first biographical and professional information I had about him and led eventually to much more. 


Rev. Dr. Roger Hayden and Mrs. Shirley Shire, Bristol Baptist College

David M. Trigg, University of Bristol

Staff archivists, University of Cambridge

Dr. Richard Temple, University of London

Sian Astill, University of Oxford

Pearl Romans, University of Southampton


Rev. Newland Smith, Episcopal Diocese of Chicago and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary

Staff, St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Sycamore, IL


Julianne Allaway and Elizabeth Adams, Episcopal Diocese of Iowa

Meghann Toohey, University of Dubuque

J. Wright, Iowa Gravestones website

Denise K. Anderson, Sarah Harris, David McCartney, and Jacque Roethler, University of Iowa

Becky Jordan, Iowa State University

Christie Vos and Jim Fisk, Morningside College, Sioux City

Grace Linden and David Mook, Sioux City Public Library

Greg T. Brown, Woodbury County Iowa and Iowa Genealogy


Mary Klein, Episcopal Diocese of Maryland

Jan Samet O’Leary, Hood College, Frederick

Liz Miller, Middleham and St. Peter’s (Episcopal) Parish, Lusby


Linda Rooke and ‘CaroleNC,’ Genealogists at

Vanessa King, Victoria University at Wellington, Wellington, New Zealand

Teresa Gray and Molly Dohrmann, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, Tennessee

Amy Fitzgerald, Archives of the Episcopal Church (USA), Austin, Texas




What causes the ZL? 

(1) Taton, Rene, Gian Domenico Cassini, in Charles Coulston Gillispie, ed., Dictionary of Scientific Biography, Volume 3, New York: Charles Scribners sons; 1971, pp. 100-104, especially p. 103. 

Heliocentric vs. Atmospheric theories

(2) Howe, Herbert Alonzo; Elements of Descriptive Astronomy, a Text Book, New York: Silver, Burdett and Company; 1897, p. 222

(3) Trudel, Jean-Louis, Simon Newcomb, in Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, Volume 2, Springer, 2007, pp. 826-828.

(4) Newcomb, Simon; An Observation of the ZL to the North of the Sun, Astrophysical Journal, volume 22, 1905, pp. 209-212.

(5) Sheehan, William; The Immortal Fire Within, the Life and Work of Edward Emerson Barnard, Cambridge, UK and New York: University of Cambridge Press, 1995, especially pp. 51, 68-70, and 422.

(6) Barnard, E.E., The Gegenschein and its Possible Origin, Popular Astronomy, volume 27, 1919, pp. 109-112.

(7) Barnard, E.E., Note on Professor Newcomb’s Observations of the ZL, Astrophysical Journal, volume 23, 1906, pp. 168-169.  Appended to this article was a brief rejoinder to Barnard by Newcomb, ‘Note by Professor Newcomb’, on p. 169.

(8) Fath, Edward Arthur; The Spectrum of the ZL, Lick Observatory Bulletin, No. 165, volume 5, 1909, 141-143.

(9) Boss, Lewis; The ZL, Popular Astronomy, volume 31, 1923, pp. 458-463.

Satellite Studies

(10) Alvarez, J.M.; Satellite Measurements of Particles Causing ZL, NASA Spec. Publication, NASA-SP-150, Washington, DC: Scientific and Technical Information Division, NASA; 1967, pp. 123-129.

(11) NASA News Release no. 65-14, Jan. 20, 1965; OrbitingSolarObservatory-B2 Press Kit, pp. 12, 15-16 and 23.  Orbiting Solar Observatory satellite and its experiments are described.  Website accessed February 16, 2013.

(12)Sparrow, J. and E.P. Ney, OSO-B2 Satellite Observations of the ZL, 154, 1968, Part 1, pp. 783-787.

(13) Sparrow, J. and E.P. Ney, Observations of the ZL from the ecliptic to the poles, Astrophysical Journal, volume 174, 1972, p. 705.

Current knowledge about the light

(14) Nesvorny, D; P. Jenniskens; H.F. Levison; W.F. Bottke; D. Vokrouhlicky and M. Gounelle; Cometary Origin of he Zodiacal Clound and Carbonaceous Micrometeorites.  Astrophysical Journal, volume 713, April 20, 2010, pp. 816-836.



(15) England and Wales, Free BMD Birth Index, 1837-1915, database about Glanville

(16) Glanville, Jay; Jay’s UK Glanvilles database, ID: 19251 John Reed Glanville,

Found by entering Glanville’s name into Google search engine.  It is in Rootsweb’s WorldConnect Project. 

(17) Early history of and passenger lists to New Zealand: New Zealand Yesteryears, Click on ‘M’ to locate Merope

Website accessed February 19, 2013.

(18) Anonymous, Celebrated His Arrival on this Planet, The Anamosa Eureka, volume 46, 1902 February 6, first page.

(19) Academic records provided by archivists at Bristol Baptist College (Rev. Dr. Roger Hayden) and University of Bristol (Mr. David M. Trigg)

(20)’s English database concerning William E. Glanville and 1890 Divorce and Matrimonial Causes records cited in Jay’s UK Glanvilles database.


(21) Perkins, D., History of O’Brien County, Iowa; Sioux Falls, S.D: Brown and Saenger, 1897, pp. 406 and 426.  Page 80 contains the image of Rev. Glanville that appears in this blog.

(22) Orwig, Timothy; Morningside College, A Centennial History, Sioux City, Iowa: Morningside College Press, 1994, pp. 15-26.  University of the Northwest was a predecessor institution to Morningside College.

(23) Anamosa Eureka and Anamosa Journal newspapers for 1896 to 1937 documented Glanville’s life and career in Anamosa, Iowa and Illinois.  The newspapers are online at   Accessed February 20, 2013.

(24) United States Censuses for 1900, 1910, 1920 and 1930 furnished some marital and birth information.

(25) Green County (Iowa) Naturalization Records Index, Hawkeye Heritage, Volume 15:4 (Fall 1980), p. 212 and US Naturalization Record Indexes,

(26) Iowa Births and Christenings Index 1857-1947, in re: John Ewart Glanville’s birth.

(27) Anonymous, Celebrated his arrival on this planet.  Friends of Rev. W.E. Glanville present him with a gold watch and a purse.  The Anamosa Eureka, 1902 February 6, volume 24, first page.


(28) Anamosa Eureka, October 5, 1905, page 5.

(29) Stowe’s Clerical Directory of the American (Episcopal) Church, published 1929 and 1932.

This reference details Rev. Glanville’s career in the Episcopal Church from 1907 to 1927.  However, some of the information is suspect because the source may be Glanville himself ; it contains the claims of the Ph.D. in 1895 and education at the Universities of New Zealand and London all of which are unverified.  His missionary work at Farley, IA, however, is mentioned in the Anamosa Journal, June 13, 1907

(30) Edward Emerson Barnard Papers, Special Collections and University Archives, Vanderbilt University Library, Nashville, TN 37203-2427; letter to EEB dated April 26, 1907.

(31) Glanville,W.E., A Modern View of the Hereafter, The Biblical World, volume 37, no. 2, Feb. 1911, pp. 107-114. 


(32) Solomons, Maryland’s lifestyle is chronicled in Berry, Paul, ‘How Things have changed: Solomons during the 20th century, Part 1: 1900-1940,’ Bugeye
Times, volume 25, Spring 2000; and Solomons History webpage: ,

Accessed February 23, 2013.

(33) Glanville, W.E., Zodiacal Light Theories, Popular Astronomy, volume 38, 1930, p. 541.

(34) Anonymous, Report of the ZL Section, Memoirs of the British Astronomical Association, volume 23, 1921, pp. 20-32 but specifically on pp. 21, 25, 26, 31, 29, and 32.

(35) Glanville, W.E., The Zodiacal Light, Its Place in the Solar System, Popular Astronomy, volume 23, 1915, pp. 365-370.

(36) Glanville, W.E., Remarks on the Zodiacal Light, Report of the 20th
 Meeting of A.A.S., Popular Astronomy, volume 25, 1917, pp. 315-316.

(37) Glanville, W.E., Zodiacal Light Theories, Popular Astronomy, volume 38, 1930, pp. 541-548.

(38) Gingrich, C.H., Dr. W.E. Glanville, Popular Astronomy, volume 41, 1933, p. 291.

Glanville’s historical context

(39) Craig, A.P.C;  Second Annual Report of the Section for the Study of Aurorae, the ZL, and Gegenschein , Popular Astronomy, volume 23, 1915, pp. 209-213.

(40) Burns, Gavin J., The Zodiacal Light, Papers Communicated to the British Astronomical Association, volume 13, 1903, pp.316-318.

(41) Burns, G.J., Report of the Section, Memoirs of the BAA, volume19, 1914, pp. 41-49

(42) Burns, G.J., The Zodiacal Light, Memoirs of the BAA, volume 23, 1921, pp. 20-32.

(43) Parr, W. Alfred, President B.A.A., Meeting of the BAA, Wednesday Dec. 27, 1933.  Gavin J. Burns’ death was announced at this meeting.  This source was found by entering Burns’ name in the Google Search engine on February 25, 2013.


Copyright 2013 Richard Taibi