On the night of 12 November 1833 and early morning of 13 November 1833, one of the most spectacular and startling meteor showers occurred. This was part of the annual Leonid showers, but the brightness of the meteors was unprecedented in the memory of those alive at the time.
For our historical purposes, this was only 10 days before baby Whipple Van Buren Phillips was born.
The ancients felt the signs above were portents for events on Earth. Maybe so, in this case. The Phillips family would have taken notice if the skies were clear, and if not, they would have soon received the news and the talk of the event. (Unfortunately, no weather reports are yet available for that night over Foster, Rhode Island. However, many did see the event between the Great Lakes and up and down the Atlantic coast.
You can click the images to expand them, but focus on the image in the fifth figure below.
In addition, a number of other meteor events are listed that occurred during WVP's mature life. Notably, during the 20 July 1860 meteor event (celebrated by Whitman and noted by hundreds) WVP would have been in Greene, Rhode island by then.