During the Victorian era there was a trend to popularize science with books, field guides and even amateur scientific instrumentation. Sea-side microscopy was one path.
A writer in the 1850s noted that "we appear to be on the eve of a microscope mania." In some instances, the microscope was "an indispensable aid to science." And in many instances it offered "an inexhaustible treasury of amusement to crowds of amateurs who aim no higher than to obtain a little useful information respecting the nature of the ordinary objects by which they are surrounded, and are content to admire beauty and variety of design, even when they cannot penetrate to final causes."
A few days ago proton arcs were seen over parts of the American Northwest and in Canada. Rarely a burst of protons interactions with gases in the upper atmosphere and the Earth's magnetic field giving the display. I've seen many auroras, but never one of these.