Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/308

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

nebula. These four stars are collectively named the Trapezium, The brightest is of the sixth magnitude, the others are of the seventh, seven and a half, and eighth magnitudes respectively. The radiant mist about them has a faint greenish tinge, while the four stars, together with three others at no great distance, which follow a fold of the nebula like a row of buttons on a coat, always appear to me to show an extraordinary liveliness of radiance, as if the strange haze served to set them off.

Our three-inch would have shown the four stars of the Trapezium perfectly well, and the four-inch would have revealed a fifth star, very faint, outside a line joining the smallest of the four and its nearest neighbor. But the five-inch goes a step farther and enables us, with steady gazing, to see even a sixth star, of only the twelfth magnitude, just outside the Trapezium,
PSM V46 D308 The trapezium with the fifth and the sixth stars.jpg
The Trapezium with the Fifth and Sixth Stars.
near the brightest member of the quartet. The Lick telescope has disclosed one or two other minute points of light associated with the Trapezium, But more interesting than the Trapezium is the vast cloud, full of strange shapes, surrounding it. Nowhere else in the heavens is the architecture of a nebula so clearly displayed. It is an unfinished temple whose gigantic dimensions, while exalting the imagination, proclaim the omnipotence of its builder. But though unfinished it is not abandoned. The work of creation is proceeding within its precincts. There are stars apparently completed, shining like gems just dropped from the hand of the polisher, and around them are masses, eddies, currents, and swirls of nebulous matter yet to be condensed, compacted, and constructed into suns. It is an education in the nebular theory of the universe merely to look at this spot with a good telescope. If we do not gaze at it long and wistfully, and return to it many times with unflagging interest, we may be certain that there is not the making of an astronomer in us.

Before quitting the Orion nebula do not fail to notice an eighth magnitude star, a short distance northeast of the Great Nebula, and nearly opposite the broad opening in the latter that leads in toward the gap occupied by the Trapezium. This star is plainly enveloped in nebulosity, that is unquestionably connected with the larger mass of which it appears to form a satellite.