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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/668

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

well as that of Brünnow and Ball, in applying the equatorial telescope to the same purposes, the parallax of nearly 100 stars has been measured with some approach to precision.

A rival method to that of the heliometer has been discovered in the photographic telescope. The plan of this instrument, and its application to such purposes as this, are extremely simple. We point a telescope at a star and set the clock-work going, so that the telescope shall remain pointed as exactly as possible in the direction of the star. We place a sensitized plate in the focus and leave it long enough to form an image both of the particular star in view and of all the stars around it. The plate being developed, we have a permanent record of the relative positions of the stars which can be measured with a suitable instrument at the observer's leisure. The advantage of the method consists in the great number of stars which may be examined for parallax, and in the rapidity with which the work can be done.

The earliest photographs which have been utilized in this way are those made by Rutherfurd in New York during the years 1860 to 1875. The plates taken by him have been measured and discussed principally by Rees and Jacoby, of Columbia University. Before their work was done, however, Pritchard, of Oxford, applied the method and published results in the case of a number of stars.

One of the pressing wants of astronomy at the present time is a parallactic survey of the heavens for the purpose of discovering all the stars whose parallax exceeds some definable limit, say 0"1. Such a survey is possible by photography, and by that only. A commencement, which may serve as an example of one way of conducting the survey, has been made by Kapteyn on photographic negatives taken by Donner at Helsingfors.

These plates cover a square in the Milky Way about two degrees on the side, extending from 35° 50' in declination to 36° 50', and from 20h. lm. in R. A. to 20h. 10m. 24s. Three plates were used, on each of which the image of each star is formed twelve times. Three of the twelve impressions were made at the epoch of maximum parallactic displacement, six at the minimum six months later, and three at the following maximum. The parallaxes found on the plates can only be relative to the general mean of all the other stars, and must therefore be negative as often as positive. The following positive parallaxes, amounting to 0"1, came out with some consistency from the measures:

Star, B. D., 3972 Mag. 8.6 R. A. 20h., 2m. 0s. Dec. +35°.5 Par. +0".11
Star, B. D., 3883 Mag. 7.1 R. A. 20h., 2m. 3s. Dec. +36°.1 Par. +0".18
Star, B. D., 4003 Mag. 9.2 R. A. 20h., 4m. 58s. Dec. +35°.4 Par. +0".10
Star, B. D., 3959 Mag. 7.0 R. A. 20h., 9m. 14s. Dec. +36°.3 Par. +0".10