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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/18

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

An observer at the intersection of these cross-lines with the central line will see the totality during the intervals given in the table.

The mode of the formation of the shadow cones of the moon, called the penumbra for the partial shadow and the umbra for the total shadow, are well illustrated in general works on astronomy, and good geometrical pictures of them can there be found, together with much useful information regarding the subject of eclipses. As we are here concerned chiefly with certain practical points about the eclipse of 1900, it will be well for the reader to consult such works for many details regarding the astronomical features attending an eclipse of the sun which must now be omitted.

There are many existing theories to account for the phenomenon of the sun's bright appendage, called the corona, which is visible only during eclipses, on account of the absorbing effects of the earth's atmosphere on its light. Is it electrical, or is it magnetic? Is it composed of fine stuff ejected from the sun, or of meteoric dust falling upon the sun? Is it merely an optical effect, as some suppose, or is it a portion of the newly discovered radiant matter streaming off to enormous distances into space? The answer to these questions is eagerly sought through observation, photography, and every other possible means, on the occasion of each total eclipse.

The efforts of astronomers have thus far secured a series of pictures of the solar corona, which, when compared together, show very distinctly that the corona, as well as the spots, the protuberances, and the faculæ, are going through a series of changes which seem to repeat themselves in the so-called eleven-year period. It has also been proven, with entire distinctness, that the earth's magnetic field, as marked by the changes in the intensity of the magnetic elements, in the auroral displays, and the earth electric currents show variations which synchronize closely with those observed on the sun; also that the weather elements of pressure, temperature, precipitation, and storm intensity all harmonize with the solar and the earth's magnetism in the same synchronism. All attempts of scientists to detect any variations in the sunshine which falls upon the tropics have been entirely futile; on the other hand, it has been shown that the magnetic forces having the characteristics just mentioned impinge upon the earth in a direction perpendicular to the plane of the earth's orbit, just as if the sun, being a magnet, throws out a field of force to the surface of the earth, which, by its variation depending upon the internal workings of the sun, produces the changes just enumerated in the earth's atmosphere and in its magnetic field, also throughout the planetary sys-