Popular Science Monthly/Volume 30/April 1887/Astronomy with an Opera-Glass I

975336Popular Science Monthly Volume 30 April 1887 — Astronomy with an Opera-Glass I1887Garrett Putnam Serviss




THERE was never a time when the heavens were studied by so many amateur astronomers as at present. In every civilized country many excellent telescopes are owned and used, often to very good purpose, by persons who are not practical astronomers, but who wish to see for themselves the marvels of the sky, and who occasionally stumble upon something that is new even to professional star-gazers. Yet, notwithstanding this activity in the cultivation of astronomical studies, it is probably safe to assert that hardly one person in a hundred knows the chief stars by name, or can even recognize the principal constellations, much less distinguish the planets from the fixed stars. And of course they know nothing of the intellectual pleasure that accompanies a knowledge of the stars. Modern astronomy is so rapidly and wonderfully linking the earth and the sun together, with all the orbs of space, in the bonds of close physical relationship, that a person of education and general intelligence can offer no valid excuse for not knowing where to look for Sirius or Aldebaran, or the Orion nebula, or the planet Jupiter. As Australia and New Zealand and the islands of the sea are made a part of the civilized world through the expanding influence of commerce and cultivation, so the suns and planets around us are, in a certain sense, falling under the dominion of the restless and resistless mind of man. We have come to possess vested intellectual interests in Mars and Saturn, and in the sun and all his multitude of fellows, which nobody can afford to ignore.

Perhaps one reason why the average educated man or woman knows so little of the starry heavens is because it is popularly supposed that only the most powerful telescopes and costly instruments of the observatory are capable of dealing with them. No greater mistake could be made. It does not require an optical instrument of any kind, nor much labor, as compared with that expended in the acquirement of some polished accomplishments regarded as indispensable, to give one an acquaintance with the stars and planets which will be not only pleasurable but useful. And with the aid of an opera-glass most interesting, gratifying, and, in some instances, scientifically valuable observations may be made in the heavens. I have more than once heard persons who knew nothing about the stars, and probably cared less, utter exclamations of surprise and delight when persuaded to look at certain parts of the sky with a good glass, and thereafter manifest an interest in astronomy of which they would formerly have believed themselves incapable.

Being convinced that whoever will survey the heavens with a good opera-glass will feel repaid many fold for his time and labor, the present writer has undertaken to point out some of the objects most worthy of attention, and some of the means of making acquaintance with the stars.

First, a word about the instrument to be used. Galileo made his famous discoveries with what was, in principle of construction, simply an opera-glass. This form of telescope was afterward abandoned because very high magnifying powers could not be employed with it, and the field of view was restricted. But, on account of the brilliant illumination of objects looked at, and its convenience of form, the opera-glass is still a valuable and, in some respects, unrivaled instrument of observation.

In choosing an opera-glass, see first that the object-glasses are achromatic, although this caution is hardly necessary, for all modern opera-glasses are made with achromatic objectives. But there are great differences in the quality of the work. If a glass shows a colored fringe around a bright object reject it. Let the diameter of the object-glasses, which are the large lenses in the end farthest from the eye, be not less than an inch and a half. The magnifying power should be at least three diameters. A familiar way of estimating the magnifying power is by looking at a brick wall through one barrel of the opera-glass with one eye, while the other eye sees the wall without the intervention of the glass. Then notice how many bricks seen by the naked eye are required to equal in thickness one brick seen through the glass. That number represents the magnifying power.

The instrument used by the writer in making most of the observations for this sketch has object-glasses 1·6 inch in diameter, and a magnifying power of about three and one half times.

See that the fields of view given by the two barrels of the opera-glass coincide, or blend perfectly together. If one appears to partially overlap the other when looking at a distant object, the effect is very annoying. This fault arises from the barrels of the opera-glass being placed too far apart, so that their optical centers do not coincide with the centers of the observer's eyes.

Occasionally, on account of faulty centering of the lenses, a double image is given of objects looked at, as illustrated in the accompanying cut. In such a case the glass is worthless; but if the effect is simply the addition of a small, crescent-shaped extension on one side of the field of view without any reduplication, the fault may be overlooked, though it is far better to select a glass that gives a perfectly round field. Some glasses have an arrangement for adjusting the distance between the barrels to suit the eyes of different persons, and it would be well if all were made adjustable in the same way.

Don't buy a cheap glass, but don't waste your money on fancy mountings. What the Rev. T. W. Webb says of telescopes is equally true of opera-glasses: "Inferior articles may be showily got up, and the outside must go for nothing." There are a few makers, whose names stamped upon the instrument, may generally be regarded as a guarantee of excellence. But the best test is that of actual performance. I have a field-glass which I found in a pawn-shop, that has no maker's name upon it, but is quite capable of bearing critical comparison with the work of the best advertised opticians. And this leads me to say that, by the exercise of good judgment, one may occasionally purchase superior glasses at very reasonable prices in the pawn-shops. Ask to be shown the old and well-tried articles; you may find among them a second-hand glass of fine optical properties. If the lenses are not injured one need not trouble himself about the worn appearance of the outside of the instrument; so much the more evidence that somebody has found it well worth using.

A good field or marine glass is in some respects better than an opera-glass for celestial observations. It possesses a much higher magnifying power, and this gives sometimes a decided advantage. But, on the other hand, its field of view is smaller, rendering it more difficult to find and hold objects. Besides, it does not present nearly as brilliant views of scattered star-clusters as an opera-glass does. For the benefit of those who possess field-glasses, however, I have included in this brief survey certain objects that lie just beyond the reach of opera-glasses, but can be seen with the larger instruments.

Having selected your glass, the next thing is to find the stars. Of course, one could sweep over the heavens at random on a starry night and see many interesting things, but he would soon tire of such aimless occupation. One must know what he is looking at in order to derive any real pleasure or satisfaction from the sight.

The circular map here given represents the appearance of the heavens, at 9 o'clock p. m., on or about the 1st of April. The center of the map is the zenith, or point overhead. The reader must now exercise his imagination a little, for it is impossible to represent the true appearance of the concave of the heavens on flat paper. Holding the map over your head, with the points marked East, West, North, and South in their proper places, conceive of it as shaped like the inside of an open umbrella, the edge all around extending clear down to the horizon. Suppose you are facing the south, then you will see, up near the zenith, the constellation of Leo, which can be readily recognized on the map by six stars that mark out the figure of a sickle standing upright on its handle. The large star in the bottom of the handle is Regulus. Having fixed the appearance and situation of this constellation in your mind, go out-of-doors, face the south, and try to find the constellation in the sky. With a little application you will be sure to succeed.

Using Leo as a basis of operations, your conquest of the sky will now proceed more rapidly. By reference to the map you will be able to recognize the twin stars of Gemini, southwest of the zenith and high up; the brilliant lone star, Procyon, south of Gemini; the dazzling Sirius, flashing low down in the southwest; Orion, with all his brilliants, blazing in the west; red Aldebaran and the Pleiades off to his right; and Capella, bright as a diamond, high up above Orion, toward the north. In the southeast you will recognize the quadrilateral of Corvus, with the singularly white star Spica glittering near the horizon east of it.

Next face the north. If you are not just sure where north is,

try a pocket-compass. This advice is by no means unnecessary, for there are many intelligent persons who are unable to indicate true north within many degrees, though standing on their own doorstep. Having found the north point as near as you can, look upward about forty degrees from the horizon, and you will see the lone twinkler called the north or pole star. Forty degrees is a little less than half-way from the horizon to the zenith.

By the aid of the map, again, you will be able to find, high up in the northeast, near the zenith, the large dipper-shaped figure in Ursa Major, and, when you have once noticed that the two stars in the outer edge of the bowl of the Dipper point almost directly to the pole-star, you will have an unfailing means of picking out the latter star here-after, when in doubt.[1] Continuing the curve of the Dipper-handle, in the northeast, your eye will be led to a bright-reddish star, which is Arcturus, in the constellation Boötes.

In the same way you will be able to find the constellations Cassiopeia, Cepheus, Draco, and Perseus. Don't expect to accomplish it all in an hour. You may have to devote two or three evenings to observation, and make many trips indoors to consult the map, before you have mastered the subject; but when you have done it you will feel amply repaid for your exertions, and you will have made for yourself silent friends in the heavens that will beam kindly upon you, like old neighbors, on whatever side of the world you may wander.

Having fixed the general outlines and location of the constellations in your mind, and learned to recognize the chief stars, take your opera-glass and begin with the constellation Leo and the star Regulus. Contrive to have some convenient rest for your arms in holding the glass, and thus obtain not only comfort but steadiness of vision. A lazy-back chair makes a capital observing-seat.

You will at once be gratified by the increased brilliancy of the star as seen by the glass. If the night is clear it will glow like a diamond. Yet Regulus, although ranked as a first-magnitude star, and of great repute among the ancient astrologers, is far inferior in brilliancy to such stars as Capella and Arcturus, to say nothing of Sirius.

By consulting the little map of the constellation Leo, here given, you will next be able to find the celebrated star bearing the name of the Greek letter Gamma (γ). If you had a telescope, you would see this star as a close and beautiful double, of contrasted colors. But it is optically double, even with an opera-glass. You can not fail to see a small star near it, looking quite close, if the magnifying power of your glass is less than three times. You will be struck by the surprising


change of color in turning from Regulus to Gamma—the former is white and the latter deep yellow. It will be well to look first at one and then at the other, several times, for this is a good instance of what you will meet with many times in your future surveys of the heavens—a striking contrast of color in neighboring stars. You will then comprehend that there is more than one sense in which to understand the Scriptural declaration that "one star differeth from another in glory." Turn next to the star in the map of Leo marked Zeta (ζ). If your glass is a pretty large and good one, and your eye keen, you will easily see three minute companion stars keeping company with Zeta, two on the southeast, and one, much closer, toward the north. The nearest of the two on the south is faint, being only between the eighth and ninth magnitude, and will probably severely test your powers of vision. Next look at Epsilon (ε), and you will find near it two seventh magnitude companions, making a beautiful little triangle.

Away at the eastern end of the constellation, in the tail of the imaginary Lion, upon whose breast shines Regulus, is the star Beta (β) Leonis, also called Denebola. It is almost as bright as its leader, Regulus, and you will probably be able to catch a tinge of blue in its rays. South of Denebola, at a distance of nineteen minutes of arc, or somewhat more than half the apparent diameter of the moon, you will see a little star of the sixth magnitude, which is one of the several "companions" for which Denebola is celebrated. There is another star of the eighth magnitude in the same direction from Denebola, but at a distance of less than five minutes, and this you may be able to glimpse with a powerful field-glass, under favorable conditions. I have seen it well with a field-glass of 1·6-inch aperture, and a magnifying power of six times.

When looking for a faint and difficult object, the plan pursued by telescopists is to avert the eyes from the precise point upon which the attention is fixed, in order to bring a more sensitive part of the retina into play than that usually employed. Look toward the edge of the field of view, while the object you are seeking is in the center, and then, if it can be seen at all with your glass, you will catch sight of it, as it were, out of the corner of your eye. The effect of seeing a faint star in this way, in the neighborhood of a large one, whose rays hide it from direct vision, is sometimes very amusing. The little star seems to pop out into view as through a curtain, perfectly distinct, though as immeasurably minute as the point of a needle. But the instant you direct your eyes straight at it, presto! it is gone. And so it will dodge in and out of sight as often as you turn your eyes.

If you will sweep carefully over the whole extent of Leo, whose chief stars are marked with their Greek-letter names on our little map, you will be impressed with the power of your glass to bring into sight many faint stars in regions that seem barren to the naked eye. An opera-glass of 1·5 aperture will show ten times as many stars as the naked eye can see.

Looking now westwardly from the Sickle of Leo, at a distance about equal to twice the length of the Sickle, your eye will be caught by a small silvery spot in the sky lying nearly between two rather faint stars. This is the famous Præsepe, or Manger, in the center of the constellation Cancer. The two stars on either side of it are called the Aselli, or the Ass's Colts, and the imagination of the ancients pictured them feeding from their silver manger. Turn your glass upon the Manger and you will see that it consists of a crowd of little stars, so small and numerous that you will probably not undertake to count them, unless you are using a large field-glass, Galileo has left a delightful description of his surprise and gratification when he aimed his telescope at this curious cluster and discovered what it really was. Using his best instrument, he was able to count thirty-six stars in the Manger. The Manger was a famous weather-sign in olden times, and Aratus, in his "Diosemia," advises his readers to—

"... watch the Manger: like a little mist

Far north in Cancer's territory it floats.
Its confines are two faintly glimmering stars;
These are two asses that a manger parts,
Which suddenly, when all the sky is clear,
Sometimes quite vanishes, and the two stars
Seem to have closer moved their sundered orbs.
No feeble tempest then will soak the leas;
A murky manger with both stars

Shining unaltered is a sign of rain."

Like other old weather-saws, there is probably a gleam of sense in this, for it is only when the atmosphere is perfectly transparent that the Manger can be clearly seen; when the air is thick with mist, the harbinger of coming storm, it fades from sight.

Below the Manger, a little way toward the south, your eye will be caught by a group of four or five stars of about the same brightness as the Aselli. This marks the head of Hydra, and the glass will show a striking and beautiful geometrical arrangement of the stars composing it. Hydra is a very long constellation, and trending southward and eastward from the head it passes underneath Leo, and, sweeping pretty close down to the horizon, winds away under Corvus, the tail reaching to the eastern horizon. Its stars are all faint, except Alphard, or the Hydra's Heart, a second-magnitude star, remarkable for its lonely situation, southwest of Regulus. A line from Gamma Leonis through Regulus points it out. It is worth looking at with the glass on account of its rich orange-tint.

Coming back again to the Manger as a starting-point, look well up to the north and west, and at a distance somewhat less than that between Regulus and the Manger you will see a pair of first-magnitude stars, which you will hardly need to be informed are the celebrated Twins, from which the constellation Gemini takes its name. The star marked α in the map is Castor, and the star marked β is Pollux. No classical reader needs to be reminded of the romantic origin of these names.

A sharp contrast in the color of Castor and Pollux comes out as soon as the glass is turned upon them. Castor is white, with occasionally, perhaps, a suspicion of a green ray in its light. Pollux is deep yellow. Castor is a celebrated double star, but its components are far too close to be separated with an opera-glass, or even the most powerful field-glass. You will be at once interested by the singular cortége of small stars by which both Castor and Pollux are surrounded. These little attendant stars, for such they seem, are arrayed in symmetrical groups—pairs, triangles, and other figures—which, it seemsGemini difficult to believe, could be unintentional, although it would be still more difficult to suggest any reason why they should be arranged in that way.

Our little map of Gemini will show you the position of the principal stars of the constellation. Castor and Pollux are in the heads of the Twins, while the row of stars marked in the map Zi (ξ), Gamma (γ), Nu (ν), Mu (μ), and Eta (η), marks their feet, which are dipped in the edge of the Milky-Way. One can spend a profitable and pleasurable half-hour in exploring the wonders of Gemini. The whole constellation, from head to foot, is gemmed with stars which escape the naked eye, but it sparkles like a bead-spangled garment when viewed with the glass. Owing to the presence of the Milky-Way, the spectacle around the feet of the Twins is particularly magnificent. And here the possessor of a good opera-glass can get a fine view of a celebrated star-cluster known in the catalogues as 35 M. It is situated a little distance northwest of the star Eta, and is visible to the naked eye, on a clear, moonless night, as a nebulous speck. With a good glass you will see two wonderful streams of little stars starting, one from Eta and the other from Mu, and running parallel toward the northwest; 35 M is situated between these star-streams. The stars in the cluster are so closely aggregated that you will be able to clearly separate only the outlying ones. The general aspect is like that of a piece of frosted silver over which a twinkling light is playing. A field-glass will bring out more of the component stars. The splendor of this starry congregation, viewed with a powerful telescope, may be guessed at from Admiral Smyth's picturesque description: "It presents a gorgeous field of stars, from the ninth to the sixteenth magnitude, but with the center of the mass less rich than the rest. From the small stars being inclined to form curves of three or four, and often with a large one at the root of the curve, it somewhat reminds one of the bursting of a sky-rocket." And Webb adds that there is an "elegant festoon near the center, starting with a reddish star."

No one can gaze upon this marvelous phenomenon, even with the comparatively low powers of an opera-glass, and reflect that all these swarming dots of light are really suns, without a stunning sense of the immensity of the material universe.

The Twins are just now entertaining a visitor whose presence may cause some perplexity to the beginner in star-lore. The planet Saturn, in his great thirty-year journey around the sun, is passing nearly through the center of this constellation. You will see the planet a little west of the star marked Delta (δ) in the map of Gemini, and making a conspicuous triangle with Castor and Pollux. It outshines both of those stars, but its golden light is more steady than theirs. Turn your glass upon it, and the difference in the aspect of a planet and that of a star will at once become apparent.

The map will enable you next to find Procyon, or the Little Dog-Star, more than twenty degrees south of Castor and Pollux, and almost directly below the Manger. This star will interest you by its golden-yellow color and its brightness, although it is far inferior in the latter respect to Sirius, or the Great Dog-Star, which you will see flashing splendidly far down beneath Procyon in the southwest. About four degrees northwest of Procyon is a third-magnitude star, called Gomelza, and the glass will show you two small stars which make a right-angled triangle with it, the nearer one being remarkable for its ruddy color.

Sirius, Orion, Aldebaran, and the Pleiades, all of which you will perceive in the west and southwest, are generally too much involved in the mists of the horizon to be seen to the best advantage at this season, although it will pay you to take a look through the glass at Sirius. But the beautiful star Capella, in the constellation Auriga, may claim a moment's attention. You will find it high up in the northwest, halfway between Orion and the pole-star, and to the right of the Twins. It has no rival near, and its creamy-white light makes it one of the most beautiful as well as one of the most brilliant stars in the heavens. Its constitution, as revealed by the spectroscope, resembles that of our sun, but the sun would make but a sorry figure if removed to the side of this giant star. About seven and a half degrees above Capella, and a little to the left, you will see a second-magnitude star called Menkalina. Two and half times as far to the left, or south, in the direction of Orion, is another star of equal brightness to Menkalina. This is El Nath, and marks the place where the foot of Auriga, or the Charioteer, rests upon the point of the horn of Taurus. Capella, Menkalina, and El Nath make a long triangle which covers the central part of Auriga. The naked eye shows two or three misty-looking spots within this triangle, one to the right of El Nath, one in the upper or eastern edge of the constellation, near a third-magnitude star called Theta, and another on a line drawn from Capella to El Nath, but much nearer to Capella. Turn your glass upon these spots, and you will be delighted by the beauty of the little stars to whose united rays they are due.

El Nath has around it some very remarkable rows of small stars, and the whole constellation of Auriga, like that of Gemini, glitters with star-dust, as the Milky-Way runs directly through it.

Corvus and Crateris.

Let us turn back again to Denebola in the Lion's Tail. Now glance from it far down into the southeast, and you will see a brilliant star flashing not far above the horizon. This is Spica, the chief twinkler of Virgo, and you will find it marked on our circular map. Then look into the northwest, and at about the same distance from Denebola, but higher above the horizon than Spica, you will catch the sparkling of a large, reddish star. It is Arcturus in Boötes. The three, Denebola, Spica, and Arcturus, mark the corners of a great equilateral triangle. Nearly on a line between Denebola and Arcturus, and somewhat nearer to the former, you will perceive a curious twinkling, as if a cobweb spangled with dew-drops were hanging there. One might think the old woman in the nursery rhyme who went to sweep the cobwebs out of the sky had skipped this corner, or else that its delicate beauty had preserved it even from her housewifely instincts. This is the little constellation called Berenice's Hair. Your opera-glass will enable you to count twenty or thirty of the largest stars composing this cluster, which are arranged, as so often happens, with a striking appearance of geometrical design. This constellation has a very romantic history. It is related that the young Queen Berenice, when her husband was called away to the wars, vowed to sacrifice her beautiful tresses to Venus if he returned victorious over his enemies. He did return home in triumph, and Berenice, true to her vow, cut off her hair and bore it to the Temple of Venus. But the same night it disappeared. The king was furious, and the queen wept bitterly over the loss. There is no telling what might have happened to the guardians of the temple, had not a celebrated astronomer named Conon led the young king and queen aside in the evening and showed them the missing locks shining transfigured in the sky. He assured them that Venus had placed Berenice's lustrous ringlets among the stars, and, as they were not skilled in celestial lore, they were quite ready to believe that the silvery swarm they saw near Arcturus had never been there before. And so for centuries the world has recognized the constellation of Berenice's Hair. These time-honored legends, that have delighted the brightest minds in all countries and all ages, lend an interest of their own to the starry heavens, in spite of the fact that they make no impression upon the armor-plated souls of certain mathematicians who pretend to be the only astronomers, and who would sweep all constellations and mythologies together into limbo.

Look next at Corvus and Crateris, two little constellations which you will discover on the circular map, and of which we give a separate representation. You will find that the stars Delta (δ) and Eta (η), in the upper left-hand corner of the quadrilateral figure of Corvus, make a striking appearance. The little star Zeta (ζ) is a very pretty double for an opera-glass. There is a very faint pair of stars close below and to the right of Beta (ß). This forms a severe test. Only a good opera-glass will show these two stars as a single faint point of light. A field-glass, however, will show both, one being considerably fainter than the other. Crateris is worth sweeping over for the pretty combination of stars to be found in it.

Arcturus and Spica, and their companions, may be left for observation to a more convenient season, when, having risen higher, they Ursa Minor. can be studied to better advantage.It will be well, however, to merely glance at them with the glass in order to note the great difference of color—Spica being brilliantly white and Arcturus almost red. We will now turn to the north. You have already been told how to find the pole-star. Look at it with your glass. The pole-star is a famous double, but its minute companion can only be seen with a telescope. As so often happens, however, it has another companion for the opera-glass, and this latter is sufficiently close and small to make an interesting test for an inexperienced observer armed with a glass of small power. It must be looked for pretty close to the rays of the large star, with such a glass, and, at nine o'clock in the evening, is below the large star. It is of the seventh magnitude. With a large field-glass several smaller companions may be seen, and a very excellent glass may show an 8·5 magnitude star almost hidden in the rays of the seventh magnitude companion.

With the aid of the accompanying map of Ursa Minor, which is the constellation to which the pole-star belongs, find the star Beta (ß), which is also called Kochab (the star marked α in the map is the pole-star). Kochab has a pair of faint stars nearly north of it, about one degree distant. With a small glass these may appear as a single star, but a stronger glass will show them separately.

And now for Ursa Major and the Great Dipper—Draco, Cepheus, Cassiopeia, and the other constellations represented on the map, being Ursa Major. rather too near the horizon for effective observation at this time of the year. First, as the easiest object, look at the star in the middle of the handle of the Dipper (this handle forms the tail of Ursa Major), and a little attention will show you, without the aid of a glass, if your eye-sight is good, that the star is double. A smaller star seems to be almost in contact with it. The larger of these two stars is called Mizar and the smaller Alcor—the Horse and his Rider the Arabs said. Your glass will, of course, greatly increase the distance between Alcor and Mizar, and will also bring out a clear difference of color distinguishing them. Now, if you have a very powerful glass, you may be able to see the Sidus Ludovicianum, a minute star which a German astronomer discovered more than a hundred and fifty years ago, and strangely enough, taking it for a planet, named it after a German prince. The position of the Sidus Ludovicianum with reference to Mizar and Alcor, is represented in the accompanying sketch. You must look very sharply if you expect to see it, and your opera-glass will have to be a large and strong one. A field glass, however, can not fail to show it.

Sweep along the whole length of the Dipper's handle, and you will discover many fine fields of stars. Then look at the star Alpha (α) in the outer edge of the bowl nearest to the pole-star. There is a faint star, of about the eighth magnitude, near it, in the direction of Beta (β). This will prove a very difficult test. You will have to try it with averted vision. If you have a field-glass, catch it first with that, and, having thus fixed its position in your mind, try to find it with the opera-glass. Its distance is a little over half that between Mizar and Alcor. It is of a reddish color.

Mizar, Alcor, and the Sidus Ludovocianum.

You will notice nearly overhead three pairs of pretty bright stars in a long, bending row, about half-way between Leo and the Dipper. These mark three of Ursa Major's feet, and each of the pairs is well worth looking at with a glass, as they are beautifully grouped with stars invisible to the naked eye. The letters used to designate the stars forming these pairs will be found upon our little map of Ursa Major. The scattered group of faint stars beyond the bowl of the Dipper forms in the Bear's head, and you will find that also a field worth a few minutes' exploration.

But, after all, no one can expect to derive from such studies as these any genuine pleasure or satisfaction unless he is mindful of the real meaning of what he sees. The actual truth seems almost too stupendous for belief. The mind must be brought into an attitude of profound contemplation in order to appreciate it. From this globe we can look out in every direction into the open and boundless universe. Blinded and dazzled during the day by the blaze of that star, of which the earth is a near and humble dependent, we are shut in as by a curtain. But at night, when our own star is hidden, our vision ranges into the depths of creation, and we behold them sparkling with a multitude of other suns. With so simple an aid as that of an opera-glass, we penetrate still deeper into the profundities of space, and thousands more of these strange, far-away suns come into sight. They are arranged in pairs, sets, rows, streams, clusters—here they gleam alone in distant splendor, there they glow and flash in mighty swarms. This is a look into heaven more splendid than the materializing imagination of Bunyan pictured; here is a celestial city whose temples are suns, and whose streets are the pathways of light.

A collection of drawings by the Jesuit botanist, Camelli (1661-1706), illustrating his lists of plants of the Island of Luzon in Ray's "Historia Plantarum," exists in good preservation in the library of the Jesuits' College at Louvain. It contains two hundred and fifty-seven autograph plates, with five hundred and fifty-six figures of plants, and three plates, with nine figures relating to zoology. It was obtained at the sale of the library of Jussieu, and bears annotations in his handwriting.

  1. Let the reader remember that the distance between the two stars in the brim of the bowl of the Dipper is about ten degrees, and he will have a measuring-stick that he can apply in estimating other distances in the heavens.