I visited the rooms of the Royal Geographic Society on North Terrace, Adelaide, the other day to take a look at a report of a sky phenomenon I'd read about in a UFO book. After 20 minutes of searching, I located a book which contained an account of the phenomenon. The book was published in 1798, 213 years ago!
The book was titled "An account of the English Colony in New South Wales: with remarks on the disposition, customs, manners, &c of the native inhabitants of that country." The author was David Collins who was listed as the late Judge Advocate and Secretary of the colony. The book was printed by T Cadell, Jun. & W Davies. London. 1798.
The phenomenon was described on page 285 as follows. I have corrected the use of the letter "f" for some uses of the letter "s" to make it easier to read.
"An extraordinary appearance in the sky was observed by several people between five and six o'clock in the evening of Friday the 12th of the month. It was noticed in the north-west, and appeared as if a ray of forked lightning had been stationary in that quarter of the sky for about fifteen minutes, which was the time it was visible. It was not to be discerned, however, after the sun had quitted the horizon."
The date of observation was 12 April 1793.
I also checked two later editions of the book. The same description appeared on page 211 of the 1804 edition, and on pages 181-182 in the 1910 edition.