If a signal is sent up, it is meant to attract attention. It did so in 2 ways...with a bang and a flash. These were the first attention-getters. Once the attention was obtained, it was maintained by the falling stars which were displayed immediately and for some time after the flash. If within audible range, the bang would be heard about 9 seconds after the flash. To suggest that Stone saw the aerial flash of detonation without the stars is nonsense. These would have lingered above the sea for a considerable time.I have one thing to say about this supposed flash at 12:15. Stone himself wrote that he was not sure what it was that caught his attention at 12:45 but he initially thought it may have been a shooting star. But after seeing the 2nd one over that steamer he recognized that it was a white rocket. The same for all the rest of them. He told Lord that he had seen a total of 8 rockets, which included that so called flash that he wasn't sure about to begin with. Clearly, he realized what that first signal was after seeing the others. So lets get off this business of him seeing some unknown flash plus 7 rockets. He saw a total of 8. He said so. Also keep in mind, he may not have actually seen the very first signal sent up by Boxhall, who was sending signals up before Rowe arrived on the bridge. Boxhall even said as much when he answered the phone call from Rowe who reported seeing a boat in the water. After Gibson arrived we were told that they saw the last 3 of their total of 8 seen. We don't know if they may have missed one or even two while they were chatting. Nobody on Titanic was really counting and we have estimates ranging from 1/2 dozen to more than a dozen going up.
According to you, Stone saw a flash over the nearby vessel, noted it then promptly ignored it. If so, what drew his attention to the rocket/signal he did positively identify How could he "after seeing the 2nd one over that steamer "...recognize that the first flash was a white rocket?
Stone either saw a rocket or saw a flash. He simply did as you and others do... assumed the flash must have been a rocket after he actually saw a rocket. If he, you or others had stopped to think about it, you, he and others would ask the simple question... So if the first one was a rocket...what happened to the stars? Oh! - and by the way - what happened to the morse signals?
You declare "So let's get off this business of him seeing some unknown flash plus 7 rockets. He saw a total of 8."
Get your facts right! Not a single person on Californian saw 8 rockets...only 7 were positively identified as such.
You suggest: "Also keep in mind, he may not have actually seen the very first signal sent up by Boxhall, who was sending signals up before Rowe arrived on the bridge. Boxhall even said as much when he answered the phone call from Rowe who reported seeing a boat in the water."
QM Rowe said he called the bridge after seeing the first lifeboat...No.7 ...abeam to starboard. It was a white painted boat and would have been illuminated by the lights of Titanic. It could never have been illuminated by the burst of a socket signal high overhead (which would easily have been seen by Stone). Because the very first signal was sent up after the second lifeboat...No.5...was launched. Therefore, there was plenty of time for QM Rowe and his mate to bring the detonators for the socket signals to Boxhall on the bridge. Seems that Boxhall was getting his phone call memories mixed-up.