According to many witness statements, after a downfall of rain, the dark clouds broke and the sun appeared as an opaque, spinning disc in the sky. It was said to be significantly duller than normal, and to cast multicolored lights across the landscape, the shadows on the landscape, the people, and the surrounding clouds. The sun was then reported to have careened towards the earth in a zigzag pattern, frightening some of those present who thought it meant the end of the world. Witnesses reported that their previously wet clothes became "suddenly and completely dry, as well as the wet and muddy ground that had been previously soaked because of the rain that had been falling".
Estimates of number present range from 30,000 to 40,000 by Avelino de Almeida, writing for the Portuguese newspaper O Século, to 100,000, estimated by Dr. Joseph Garrett, professor of natural sciences at the University of Coimbra, both of whom were present that day.