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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/538

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

savages inhabiting Australia and the Pacific island groups a similar rite has been discovered. It has also been suggested that the Japanese feast of lanterns is not improbably related to this world-wide observance of the Pleiades, as commemorating some calamitous event PSM V32 D534 The pleiades.jpgThe Pleiades. in the far past which involved the whole race of man in its effects.

The Pleiades also have a supposed connection with that mystery of mysteries, the great Pyramid of Cheops. It has been found that about the year 2170 b. c., when the beginning of spring coincided with the culmination of the Pleiades at mid-night, that wonderful group of stars was visible, just at midnight, through the mysterious southward-pointing passage of the Pyramid. At the same date the then pole-star, Alpha Draconis, was visible through the northward-pointing passage of the Pyramid.

Another curious myth involving the Pleiades as a part of the constellation Taurus is that which represents this constellation as the Bull into which Jupiter changed himself when he carried the fair Europa away from Phœnicia to the continent that now bears her name. In this story the fact that only the head and fore-quarters of the Bull are visible in the sky is accounted for on the ground that the remainder of his body is beneath the water through which he is swimming. Here, then, is another apparent link with the legends of the Flood, with which the Pleiades have been so strangely connected, as by common consent among so many nations, and in the most widely-separated parts of the earth.

With the most powerful field-glass you may be able to see all of the stars represented in our picture of the Pleiades. With an ordinary opera-glass the fainter ones will not be visible; yet even with such a glass the scene is a remarkable one. Not only all of the "Seven Sisters," but many other stars can be seen twinkling among them. The superiority of Alcyone to the others, which is not so clear to the naked eye, becomes very apparent. Alcyone is the large star below the middle of the picture with a triangle of little stars beside it. To the left or east of Alcyone the two most conspicuous stars are Atlas and Pleione. The latter—which is the uppermost one—is rep-