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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/546

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

To our eyes, Canopus is only about half as bright as Sirius, and it ranks as the second star in the heavens in the order of brightness. But while Sirius's distance is measurable, that of Canopus is so unthinkably immense that astronomers can get no grip upon it. If it were only twice as remote as Sirius it would be equal to two of the latter, but the probability is its distance is much greater than that. And possibly even Canopus is not the greatest gem in the coronet of creation.

East and south of Canis Major, which, by the way, is fabled to represent one of Orion's hounds, is part of the constellation Argo, which stands for the ship in which Jason sailed in search of the golden fleece. The observer will find many objects of interest here, although some of them are so close to the horizon in our latitudes that much of their brilliancy is lost. Note the two stars ζ, and π near the lower edge of the map, then sweep slowly over the space lying between them. About half-way your attention will be arrested by a remarkable arrangement of stars, in which a beautiful half-circle of small stars curving above a larger one, which is reddish in color, is conspicuous. This neighborhood will be found rich in stars that the naked eye can not see. Just below the star η in Canis Majoris is another fine group. The star π, which is deep yellow or orange, has three little stars above it, two of which form a pretty pair. The star ξ has a companion, which forms a fine test for an opera-glass, and is well worth looking for. Look also at the cluster 93 M, just above and to the west of ξ. The stars η and κ are seen double with an opera-glass.

The two neighboring clusters, 46 M and 388 are very interesting objects. To see them well, use a powerful field-glass. A "fiery fifth-magnitude star," as Webb calls it, can be seen in the field at the same time. The presence of the Milky-Way is manifest by the sprinkling of stars all about this region.

Turning now to the constellation Monoceros, we shall find a few objects worthy of attention. This constellation is of comparatively modern origin, having been formed by Bartschius, whose chief title to distinction is that he married the daughter of John Kepler. The region around the stars 8, 13, and 17 will be found particularly rich, and the cluster 27 shows well with a strong glass. Look also at the cluster 50 M, and compare its appearance with that of the clusters in Argo.

With these constellations we finish our review of the celestial wonders that lie within the reach of so humble an instrument as an opera or field-glass. We have made the circuit of the sky, and the hosts that illumine the vernal heavens are now seen advancing from the east, and pressing close upon the brighter squadrons of winter. Their familiar figures resemble the faces of old friends whom we are glad to welcome. These starry acquaintances never grow wearisome. Their interest for us is as fathomless as the deeps of space in which they shine. The man never yet lived whose mind could comprehend the full meaning of the wondrous messages that they flash to us upon the