Museo Galileo
Virtual Museum
Aurora flask
    • Setting:
      Room XI
    • Maker:
    • Date:
      late 18th cent.
    • Materials:
      glass, brass, lead foil
    • Dimensions:
      total height 275 mm, max. diameter 94 mm
    • Inventory:
    • Aurora flask (Inv. 423)

Pear-shaped glass vessel with central brass spike and threaded brass collar, covered by a cap. The outer half of the flask is covered with lead foil (originally tin foil).

This device was used to simulate the aurora borealis phenomenon. The flask was connected to an air pump and partially evacuated. It was then electrified by means of the prime conductor of an electrical machine. The glow produced at the spike, which greatly resembled an aurora borealis, behaved differently for positive and negative electrical charges. Provenance: Lorraine collections.