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cloudiness of an atmosphere too sublime for vulgar comprehension. We think we shall render good service to both classes of readers, by dissipating, so far as lies in our power, that accidental obscurity, and by showing ordinary untutored comprehension clearly what it can, and what it cannot, hope to attain.
GENERAL NOTIONS. APPAKENT AND REAL MOTIONS. SHAPE AND
SIZE OP THE EARTH. — THE HORIZON AND ITS DIP THE ATMOSPHERE. — REFRACTION. TWILIGHT. — APPEARANCES RESULTING FROM DIDRNAL MOTION FROM CHANGE OF STATION
IN GENERAL PARALLACTIC MOTIONS. TERRESTRIAL PARALLAX. THAT OF THE STARS INSENSIBLE. FIRST STEP TOWARDS FORMING AN IDEA OF THE DISTANCE OF THE STARS.
COPERNICAN VIEW OF THE EARTH'S MOTION RELATIVE
MOTION. MOTIONS PARTLY REAL, PARTLY APPARENT GEOCENTRIC ASTRONOMY, OR IDEAL REFERENCE OF PHENOMENA TO THE EARTH'S CENTRE AS A COMMON CONVENTIONAL STATION.
(11.) The magnitudes, distances, arrangement, and motions of the great bodies which make up the visible universe, their constitution and physical condition, so far as they can be known to us, with their mutual influences and actions on each other, so far as they can be traced by the effects produced, and established by legitimate reasoning, form the assemblage of objects to which the attention of the astronomer is directed. The term astronomy * itself, which denotes the law or rule of the astra (by which the ancients understood not only the stars properly so called, but the sun, the moon, and all the visible constituents of the heavens), sufficiently indicates this; and, although the term astrology, which denotes the reason, theory, or interpretation of the starsf, has become degraded in its application, and confined to superstitious and delusive attempts to divine future events by their dependence on prctended planetary influences, the same meaning originally attached itself to that epithet.
* AaTrtp, a star t vofios, a hire; or nffuw, to tend, as a shepherd his flock; so that aaTpovonos means "shepherd of the stars." The two etymologies are, how. ever, coincident.
f A0701, reason, or a word, the vehicle of reason; the interpreter of thought.
(12.) But, besides the stars and other celestial bodies, the earth itself, regarded as an individual body, is one principal object of the astronomer's consideration, and, indeed, the chief of all. It derives its importance, in a practical as well as theoretical sense, not only from its proximity, and its relation to us as animated beings, who draw from it the supply of all our wants, but as the station from which we see all the rest, and as the only one among them to which we can, in the first instance, refer for any determinate marks and measures by which to recognize their changes of situation, or with which to compare their distances.
(13.) To the reader who now for the first time takes up a book on astronomy, it will no doubt seem strange to class the earth with the heavenly bodies, and to assume any community of nature among things apparently so different. For what, in fact, can be more apparently different than the vast and seemingly immeasurable extent of the earth, and the stars, which appear but as points, and seem to have no size at all? The earth is dark and opaque, while the celestial bodies are brilliant. We perceive in it no motion, while in them we observe a continual change of place, as we view them at different hours of the day or night, or at different seasons of the year. The ancients, accordingly, one or two of the more enlightened of them only excepted, admitted no such community of nature; and, by thus placing the heavenly bodies and their movements without the pale of analogy and experience, effectually intercepted the progress of all reasoning from what passes here below, to what is going on in the regions where they exist and move. Under such conventions, astronomy, as a science of cause and effect, could not exist, but must be limited to a mere registry of appearances, unconnected with any attempt to account for them on reasonable principles, however successful to a certain extent might be the attempt to follow out their order of sequence, and to establish empirical laws expressive of this order. To get rid of this prejudice, therefore, iB the first step towards acquiring a knowledge of what is really the case; and the student has made his first effort towards the acquisition of sound knowledge, when he has learnt to familiarize himself with the idea that the earth, after all, may be nothing but a great star. How correct such an idea may be, and with what limitations and modifications it is to be admitted, we shall see presently.
(14.) It is evident, that, to form any just notions of the arrangement, in space, of a number of objects which we cannot approach and examine, but of which all the information we can gain is by sitting still and watching their evolutions, it must be very important for us to know, in the first instance, whether what we call sitting still is really such: whether the station from which we view them, with ourselves, and all objects which immediately surround us, be not itself in motion, unperceived by us; and if so, of what nature that motion is. The apparent places of a number of objects, and their apparent arrangement with respect to each other, will of course be materially dependent on the situation of the spectator among them; and if this situation be liable to change, unknown to the spectator himself, an appearance of change in the respective situations of the objects will arise, without the reality. If, then, such be actually the case, it will follow that all the movements we think we perceive among the stars will not be real movements, but that some part, at least, of whatever changes of relative place we perceive among them must be merely apparent, the results of the shifting of our own point of view; and that, if we would ever arrive at a knowledge of their real motions, it can only be by first investigating our own, and making due allowance for its effects. Thus, the question whether the earth is in motion or at rest, and if in motion, what that motion is, is no idle inquiry, but one on which depends our only chance of arriving at true conclusions respecting the constitution of the universe.
(15.) Nor let it be thought strange that we should speak of a motion existing in the earth, unperceived by its inhabitants: we must remember that it is of the earth as a whole, with all that it holds within its substance, or sustains on its surface, that we are speaking; of a motion common to the solid mass beneath, to the ocean which flows around it, the air that rests upon it, and the clouds which float above it in the air. Such a motion, which should displace no terrestrial object from its relative situation among others, interfere with no natural processes, and produce no sensations of shocks or jerks, might, it is very evident, subsist undetected by us. There is no peculiar sensation which advertises us that we are in motion. We perceive jerks, or shocks, it is true, because these are sudden changes of motion, produced, as the laws of mechanics teach us, by sudden and powerful forces acting during short times; and these forces, applied to our bodies, are what we feel. When, for example, we are carried along in a carriage with the blinds down, or with our eyes closed (to keep us from seeing external objects), we perceive a tremor arising from inequalities in the road, over which the carriage is successively lifted and let fall, but we have no sense of progress. As the road is smoother, our sense of motion is diminished, though our rate of travelling is accelerated. Railway travelling, especially by night or in a tunnel, has familiarized every one with this remark. Those who have made aeronautic voyages testify that with closed eyes, and under the influence of a steady breeze communicating no oscillatory or revolving motion to the car, the sensation is that of perfect rest, however rapid the transfer from place to place.
(16.) But it is on shipboard, where a great system is maintained in motion, and where we are surrounded with a multitude of objects which participate with ourselves and each other in the common progress of the whole mass, that we feel most satisfactorily the identity of sensation between a state of motion and one of rest. In the cabin of a large and heavy vessel, going smoothly before the wind in still water, or drawn along a canal, not the smallest indication acquaints us with the way it is making. We read, sit, walk, and perform every customary action as if we were on land. If we throw a ball into the air, it falls back into our hand; or if we drop it, it alights at our feet. Insects buzz around us as in the