Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 24.djvu/690

This page has been validated.
672
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

large and beautifully colored water-wheel, the more richly colored circle of the turpentine makes its appearance. Or, beginning with turpentine, and forming its concentrated iris; on turning on the water-spray, though to the eye the shower seems absolutely homogeneous, its true character is instantly declared by the flashing out of the larger concentric aqueous bow. The water primary is accompanied by its secondary close at hand. Associated, moreover, with all the bows, primary and secondary, are the supernumeraries which belong to them; and a more superb experimental illustration of optical principles it would be hardly possible to witness. It is not the less impressive because extracted from the simple combination of a beam of light and a shower of rain.

In the "Philosophical Transactions" for 1835, the late Colonel Sykes gave a vivid description of a circular solar rainbow, observed by him in India, during periods when fogs and mists were prevalent in the chasms of the Ghats of the Deccan:

It was during such periods that I had several opportunities of witnessing that singular phenomenon, the circular rainbow, which, from its rareness, is spoken of as a possible occurrence only. The stratum of fog from the Konkun on some occasions rose somewhat above the level of the top of a precipice forming the northwest scarp of the hill fort of Hurreechundurghur, from two to three thousand feet perpendicular, without coming over upon the table-land. I was placed at the edge of the precipice just without the limits of the fog, and with a cloudless sun at my back at a very low elevation. Under such a combination of favorable circumstances, the circular rainbow appeared quite perfect, of the most vivid colors, one half above the level on which I stood, the other half below it. Shadows in distinct outline of myself, my horse, and people appeared in the center of the circle as a picture, to which the bow formed a resplendent frame. My attendants were incredulous that the figures they saw under such extraordinary circumstances could be their own shadows, and they tossed their arms and legs about, and put their bodies into various postures, to be assured of the fact by the corresponding movements of the objects within the circle; and it was some little time ere the superstitious feeling with which the spectacle was viewed wore off. From our proximity to the fog, I believe the diameter of the circle at no time exceeded fifty or sixty feet. The brilliant circle was accompanied by the usual outer bow in fainter colors.

Mr. E. Colborne Baber, an accomplished and intrepid traveler, has recently enriched the "Transactions" of the Royal Geographical Society by a paper of rare merit, in which his travels in Western China are described. He made there the ascent of Mount O—an eminence of great celebrity. Its height is about eleven thousand feet above the sea, and it is flanked on one side by a cliff "a good deal more than a mile in height." From the edge of this cliff, which is guarded by posts and chains, you look into an abyss, and if fortune, or rather the mists, favor you, you see there a miracle, which is thus described by Mr. Baber:

Naturally enough it is with some trepidation that pilgrims approach this fear-