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Hast thou ne'er seen the comet's daming light?
252. The twinkling stars, of which we see so many every clear evening, do not belong to our solar system; but are themselves so many Suns to other systems like ours.
Each Star is supposed to be the centre of its own system; and to have planets, moons, and comets moving round it at immense distances, like those of our solar system !
Bright legions swarm unseen, and sing, unheard
Potas. 253. They are called fired stars, because they never appear to move; and are so distant, that although the orbit of the Earth is twice 93 millions, or 186 millions of miles across ; and we are consequently 186 millions of miles nearer to some stars at one time than we are at another, yet the stars always appear in the same places.
Oh Nature ! alj-officient ! over all !
254. The distance of the nearest of the fixed stars cannot be less than 32 billions of miles; and all of them are doubtless as far distant froin each other.
They appear to fill infinite space in shoals or Vast systems of stars; and our Sun is supposed
to be one of that amazing shoal of stars, whose myriads form the bright cloud of light called the Milky Way.
How distant, some of the nocturnal guns !
255. The stars, as seen through a telescope, are infinite in number, more than 100,000 have been reiluced to a catalogue; but with the naked eye, not more than 6 or 800 stars on the clearest night can be seen ;--s0 deceptive is the appearance when viewed hastily.
256. The ancients, in order to find and describe the stars, classed them into figures of men and beasts, called Constellations, and there were fifty of these. The moderns have added twenty-four others; so that the celestial globe, in which the stars are accurately laid down as in the heavens, is covered with the figures of these imaginary constellations.
257. In the Zodiac, or part of the heavens where the Sun appears to inove, there were twelve of these constellations : as,
Aries, the Ram ..
Gemini, the Twins ..
Pisces, the Fishes ...
CRATTERTON Obr. 1.---These constellations were of Egyptiau contrivance; and the characters (which it is need out to learn) are Egyptian hieroglyphies, or rude paintings of the things represented, or some known emblem of the things,
2.- The signs of the Zodiac, in which the earth and planets move, may also be recollected by means of the following lines :
The raw, the Sult, the heav'nlu troins,
The virgin and the scales :
And Asa with glittering tails
288. The most showy of the constellations is Orion, distinguished by his belt of in a row;
beneath these is Sirius, the brightest of the stars; and above, to the right, are the red star of the Bull, and the Pleiades or Seven Stars ; and to the left, two bright stars, Castor and Pollux.
These bright constellations are always visible on a winter's evening.
Obs. The student of Nature, who takes an evening's walk to admire the magnificence nnd the glory of the starry heavens, and desires to profit by his observations, should learn to class the beavens into particular divisions; and fix on certain points, as landmarks, to direct his attention,
By knowing the part of the heavens in which the Sun rises, he is able to determine the eastern side ; by attend. ing to its situation at noon, he ascertains the south; and by noticing the place of its setting, he determines the restern side of the horizon. He need not be told that the Herth is opposite to the south.
The moment, then, in which he casta his eyes on the aparkling expanse of heaven, he is supposed to be sensible of the bearings of the cardinal points, north, south, cast, and west.
The next principle to be recognised is, that he seco above his horizon,* one half of the whole heavens; that is to say, one-half of the heavens are always visible, or abore the horizon, and the other half is below the borizon. He must not expect, therefore, to see all the constellations and planets at once ; but only that half which at the time of observation, is above the horizon).
For the sake of precision and accurate reference, astronomers have supposed the 360 degrers, into which
The horison in the line all around where the sky and the eartha seem to meet The senith is the point sidectly over dead, go degrees from the horvoon.