Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/586

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

The Total Eclipse at Viziadrug.—The following vivid description of the recent total eclipse of the sun appeared in the Times of India: "But high overhead was a sight it was worth a journey of thousands of miles to see. In the midst of the dull blue sky stood out the inky blackness of the moon with its slightly ragged edge, a silhouette more sharply defined than the mind can conceive. Encircling the moon was the corona, a mass of the purest and most brilliant incandescence, thin in the upper portions, and much broader below. On the lower left corner a blazing blood-red prominence cast a ray of beautiful color into the dazzling whiteness; a smaller and less conspicuous spot appeared upon the opposite quadrant. At the second of totality four extensions leaped from the corona into the surrounding darkness, feathery, ethereal streams of the most exquisite pearly luminosity. To the southward Venus shone with the brilliance of a tropical night; below her, Mars less clearly, and three stars of lesser magnitude were barely visible. The darkness, owing to the great clearness of the atmosphere, was not intense. Newspaper print could be easily read, or the position of the second hands of a watch noted without the assistance of a lantern. Still the landscape presented an unnatural appearance, and irresistibly suggested a world seen through a colored glass. Away to the westward the horizon was a dull gray purple, shading into a delicate violet, and then to a lovely subtle yellow like the tinge of an English winter sunset; to the east the shadow of the moon seemed to envelop the earth like an angry rain cloud. There were few opportunities of observing the effects of the eclipse upon the animal world. A number of crows circled restlessly over the trees which fringe the little sandy bay; a big yellow snake half crawled out of his hole near the wall, looked round, and withdrew. Other sign of animal life there was none."


The Field Columbian Museum.—The work of the Field Columbian Museum, Chicago, during the year covered by its last annual report, included two courses of eight lectures each, in one of which distinguished specialists were represented, while the other was given entirely by the curators of the museum; and the publication of seven works of research (in addition to the annual report) of great value. The library contains 8,062 books and 7,680 pamphlets. A large space in the report is occupied with the description of the accessions to the various departments of the museum, which are catalogued in another part of the book. All the agencies employed have given excellent returns, and all the departments seem to have shared in the results. The collection obtained by the African expedition of Mr. Elliott (to the Masai country) is very valuable, "probably the most important, certainly so as regards quadrupeds, ever brought out of any country by one expedition"; and consists of about two hundred animal skins, three hundred skins of birds, numerous reptiles, and about half a barrel of fishes, obtained on the coast and at Aden. Skeletons of every species, in certain cases two or three of the same species, were preserved, and casts of heads and parts of bodies showing the muscles of the large animals were made. Specimens forming a fair representation of the materials in use among the tribes were obtained, with photographic negatives of the people, scenery, and animals. Other expeditions were made by Messrs. G. A. Dorsey and E. Allen among the Indians of the far West; Mr. O. C. Farrington to the caves of Kentucky; Mr. C. F. Millspaugh for forestry specimens; and the assistant curator of ornithology for southern birds.


The Climate of Alaska.—An article by General A. W. Greely on climatic conditions in Alaska, in The National Geographic Magazine, is authority for the following statements: Almost everywhere in Alaska the climate changes decidedly within a hundred miles of the mainland coast and becomes continental in its characteristics. Rain and snow are less frequent, the summers are longer and warmer as we go inland, the skies less cloudy, and the winters marked with excessive cold. Freezing weather, usually below zero, continues for months, and even in July, with midday temperatures of 70° to 80°, it is an almost daily occurrence for the temperature to fall during the night to the neighborhood of the freezing point. Sitka is a typical coast station for southern Alaska. In forty-five years its temperature has varied between 88° and —4°. The cold-