Page:Philosophical Transactions - Volume 095.djvu/261

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XVI. On the Direction and Velocity of the Motion of the Sun, and Solar System. By William Herschel, LL.D. F.R.S.


Read May 16, 1805.


Our attention has lately been directed again to the construction of the heavens, on which I have already delivered several detached papers. The changes which have taken place in the relative position of double stars, have ascertained motions in many of them, which are probably of the same nature with those that have hitherto been called proper motions. It is well known that many of the principal stars have been found to have changed their situation, and we have lately had a most valuable acquisition in Dr. Maskelyne's Table of proper motions of six and thirty of them. If this Table affords us a proof of the motion of the stars of the first brightness, such as are probably in our immediate neighbourhood, the changes of the position of minute double stars that I have ascertained, many of which can only be seen by the best telescopes, likewise prove that motions are equally carried on in the remotest parts of space which hitherto we have been able to penetrate.

The proper motions of the stars have long engaged the attention of astronomers, and in the year 1783, I deduced from them, with a high degree of probability, a motion of the sun and solar system towards λ Herculis. The reasons which were then pointed out for introducing a solar motion, will now be much strengthened by additional considerations; and the

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