Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/352

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

lunar globe. Nobody who has not seen the moon with a telescope—it need not be a large one—can form a correct and definite idea of what the moon is like.

The satisfaction of viewing with one's own eyes some of the things the astronomers write and talk about is very great, and the illumination that comes from such viewing is equally great. Just as in foreign travel the actual seeing of a famous city, a great gallery filled with masterpieces, or a battlefield where decisive issues have been fought out illuminates, for the traveler's mind, the events of history, the criticisms of artists, and the occurrences of contemporary life in foreign lands, so an acquaintance with the sights of the heavens gives a grasp on astronomical problems PSM V56 D0352 Jupiter seen through a five inch telescope.pngJupiter seen with a Five-Inch Telescope.
Shadow of a satellite visible.
that can not be acquired in any other way. The person who has been in Rome, though he may be no archæologist, gets a far more vivid conception of a new discovery in the Forum than does the reader who has never seen the city of the Seven Hills; and the amateur who has looked at Jupiter with a telescope, though he may be no astronomer, finds that the announcement of some change among the wonderful belts of that cloudy planet has for him a meaning and an interest in which the ordinary reader can not share.

Jupiter is perhaps the easiest of all the planets for the amateur observer. A three-inch telescope gives beautiful views of the great planet, although a four-inch or a five-inch is of course better. But there is no necessity for going beyond six inches' aperture in any case. For myself, I think I should care for nothing better than my five-inch of fifty-two inches' focal distance. With such a glass more details are visible in the dark belts and along the bright equatorial girdle than can be correctly represented in a sketch before the rotation of the planet has altered their aspect, while the shadows of the satellites thrown upon the broad disk, and the satellites themselves when in transit, can be seen sometimes with exquisite clearness. The contrasting colors of various parts of the disk are also easily studied with a glass of four or five inches' aperture.