A heavy New Hampshire snowstorm ushered in the new year of 1784. ‘Snowdri s are six feet deep’, wrote Belknap, ‘and ’tis at least three feet on a level. Our people are now turning out to break the paths’. e air was bitter cold, the sky grey – a lonely, forbidding environment, yet peaceful all the same. ‘We have had scarce any Aurora Boreales this autumn and winter’. e Shakers, a peculiar New England religious sect given to extravagant claims, incorporated eschatology into astronomy, claiming that the aurora ‘are entirely ceased’. Belknap wondered: ‘Have you any of those creatures in Pennsylvania?’1