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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/357

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SCENES ON THE PLANETS.

seen when they have a dark belt for a background, and are least easily visible when they appear against a bright portion of the planet. Every observer should provide himself with a copy of the American Ephemeris for the current year, wherein he will find all the information needed to enable him to identify the various satellites and to predict, by turning Washington mean time into his own local time, the various phenomena of the transits and eclipses.

While a faithful study of the phenomena of Jupiter is likely to lead the student to the conclusion that the greatest planet in our system is not a suitable abode for life, yet the problem of its future, always fascinating to the imagination, is open; and whosoever may be disposed to record his observations in a systematic manner may at least hope to render aid in the solution of that problem.

Saturn ranks next to Jupiter in attractiveness for the observer with a telescope. The rings are almost as mystifying to-day as they were in the time of Herschel. There is probably no single telescopic view that can compare in the power to excite wonder with that PSM V56 D0357 Saturn seen with a five inch telescope.pngSaturn seen with a Five-Inch Telescope. of Saturn when the ring system is not so widely opened but that both poles of the-planet project beyond it. One returns to it again and again with unflagging interest, and the beauty of the spectacle quite matches its singularity. When Saturn is in view the owner of a telescope may become a recruiting officer for astronomy by simply inviting his friends to gaze at the wonderful planet. The silvery color of the ball, delicately chased with half visible shadings, merging one into another from the bright equatorial band to the bluish polar caps; the grand arch of the rings, sweeping across the planet with a perceptible edging of shadow; their sudden disappearance close to the margin of the ball, where they go behind it and fall straightway into night; the manifest contrast of brightness, if not of color, between the two principal rings; the fine curve of the black line marking the 1,600-mile gap between their edges—these are some of the elements of a picture that can never fade from the memory of any one who has once beheld it in its full glory.

Saturn's moons are by no means so interesting to watch as are those of Jupiter. Even the effect of their surprising number (raised to nine by Professor Pickering's discovery last spring of a new one which is almost at the limit of visibility, and was found