Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/765

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PLEASURES OF THE TELESCOPE.

ing power of the star as compared with the sun. The first thing to do is to multiply the earth's distance from the sun, which may be taken at 93,000,000 miles, by 206,265, the number of seconds of arc in a radian, the base of circular measure, and then divide the product by the parallax of the star. Performing the multiplication and division, we get the following:

19.182.645,000,000/·018 1,065,790,250,000,000.

The quotient represents miles! Call it, in round numbers, a thousand millions of millions of miles. This is about 11,400,000 times the distance from the earth to the sun.

Now for the second part of the calculation: The amount of light received on the earth from some of the brighter stars has been experimentally compared with the amount received from the sun. The results differ pretty widely, but in the case of Arcturus the ratio of the star's light to sunlight may be taken as about one twenty-five-thousand-millionth—i. e., 25,000,000,000 stars, each equal to Arcturus, would together shed upon the earth as much light as the sun does. But we know that light varies inversely as the square of the distance; for instance, if the sun was twice as far away as it is, its light would be diminished for us to a quarter of its present amount. Suppose, then, that we could remove the earth to a point midway between the sun and Arcturus, we should then be 5,700,000 times as far from the sun as we now are. In order to estimate how much light the sun would send us from that distance we must square the number 5,700,000 and then take the result inversely, or as a fraction. We thus get 1/32,490,000,000,000, representing the ratio of the sun's light at half the distance of Arcturus to that at its real distance. But while receding from the sun we should be approaching Arcturus. We should get, in fact, twice as near to that star as we were before, and therefore its light would be increased for us fourfold. Now, if the amount of sunlight had not changed, it would exceed the light of Arcturus only a quarter as much as it did before, or in the ratio of 25.000,000,000/4 6,250,000,000 to 1. But, as we have seen, the sunlight would diminish through increase of distance to one 32,490,000,000,000th part of its original amount. Hence its altered ratio to the light of Arcturus would become 6,250,000,000 to 32,490,000,000,000, or 1 to 5,198.

This means that if the earth were situated midway between the sun and Arcturus, it would receive 5,198 times as much light from that star as it would from the sun! It is quite probable, moreover, that the heat of Arcturus exceeds the solar heat in the same ratio, for the spectroscope shows that although Arcturus is