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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/351

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SCENES ON THE PLANETS.

Anna Simson, Frau Bieber Boehm, and Frau Marie Stritt, of Dresden.

It was also decided at this congress that the next Quinquennial International Council of Women should be held in Berlin, and it will without doubt be an occasion that will mark an era in the history of the progress of liberty for the women of Germany.

 

SCENES ON THE PLANETS.
By GARRETT P. SERVISS.

ALTHOUGH amateurs have played a conspicuous part in telescopic discovery among the heavenly bodies, yet every owner of a small telescope should not expect to attach his name to a star. But he certainly can do something perhaps more useful to himself and his friends. He can follow the discoveries that others, with better appliances and opportunities, have made, and can thus impart to those discoveries that sense of reality which only comes from seeing things with one's own eyes. There are hundreds of things continually referred to in books and writings on astronomy which have but a misty and uncertain significance for the mere reader, but which he can easily verify for himself with the aid of a telescope of four or five inches' aperture, and which, when actually confronted by the senses, assume a meaning, a beauty, and an importance that would otherwise entirely have escaped him. Henceforth every allusion to the objects he has seen is eloquent with intelligence and suggestion.

Take, for instance, the planets that have been the subject of so many observations and speculations of late years—Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Venus. For the ordinary reader much that is said about them makes very little impression upon his mind, and is almost unintelligible. He reads of the "snow patches" on Mars, but unless he has actually seen the whitened poles of that planet he can form no clear image in his mind of what is meant. So the "belts of Jupiter" is a confusing and misleading phrase for almost everybody except the astronomer, and the rings of Saturn are beyond comprehension unless they have actually been seen.

It is true that pictures and photographs partially supply the place of observation, but by no means so successfully as many imagine. The most realistic drawings and the sharpest photographs in astronomy are those of the moon, yet I think nobody would maintain that any picture in existence is capable of imparting a really satisfactory visual impression of the appearance of the