« НазадПродовжити »
finally at the points P Q It, after being more or less bent in passing through it, the lower most, the higher less, and that which, like SRO, merely grazes the exterior limit of the atmosphere, not at all. Let us consider several points, A, B, C, D, each more remote than the last from A, and each more deeply involved in the earth's shadow, which occupies the whole space from A beneath the line A M. Now, A just receives the sun's last direct ray, and, besides, is illuminated
by the whole reflective atmosphere PQRT. It therefore receives twilight from the whole sky. The point B, to which the sun has set, receives no direct solar light, nor any, direct or reflected, from all that part of its visible atmosphere which is below APM; but from the lenticular portion Prj, which is traversed by the sun's rays, and which lies above the visible horizon B R of B, it receives a twilight, which is strongest at R, the point immediately below which the sun is, and fades away gradually towards P, as the luminous part of the atmosphere thins off. At C, only the last or thinnest portion, P Q z of the lenticular segment, thus illuminated, lies above the horizon, C Q, of that place; here, then, the twilight is feeble, and confined to a small space in and near the horizon, which the sun has quitted, while at D the twilight has ceased altogether.
(45.) When the sun is above the horizon, it illuminates the atmosphere and clouds, and these again disperse and scatter a portion of its light in all directions, so as to send some of its rays to every exposed point, from every point of the sky. The generally diffused light, therefore, which we enjoy in the daytime, is a phenomenon originating in the very same causes as the twilight. Were it not for the reflective and scattering power of the atmosphere, no objects would be visible to us out of direct sunshine; every shadow of a passing cloud would be pitchy darkness; the stars would be visible all day, and every apartment, into which the sun had not direct admission, would be involved in nocturnal obscurity. This scattering action of the atmosphere on the solar light, it should be observed, is increased by the irregularity of temperature caused by the same luminary in its different parts, which, during the daytime, throws it into a constant state of undulation, and, by thus bringing together masses of air of very unequal temperatures, produces partial reflections and refractions at their common boundaries, by which some portion of the light is turned aside from the direct course, and diverted to the purposes of general illumination.
(46.) From the explanation we have given, in arts. 39 and 40, of the nature of atmospheric i-efraction, and the mode in which it is produced in the progress of a ray of light through successive strata, or layers, of the atmosphere, it will be evident, that whenever a ray passes obliquely from a higher level to a lower one, or vice versa, its course is not rectilinear, but concave downwards; and of course any object seen by means of such a ray, must appear deviated from its true place, whether that object be, like the celestial bodies, entirely beyond the atmosphere, or, like the summits of mountains seen from the plains, or other terrestrial stations at different levels seen from each other, immersed in it. Every difference of level, accompanied, as it must be, with a difference of density in the aerial strata, must also have, corresponding to it, a certain amount of refraction ; less, indeed, than what would be produced by the whole atmosphere, but still often of very appretiable, and even considerable, amount. This refraction
between terrestrial stations is termed terrestrial refraction, to distinguish it from that total effect which is only produced on celestial objects, or such as are beyond the atmosphere, and which is called celestial or astronomical refraction.
(47.) Another effect of refraction is to distort the visible forms and proportions of objects seen near the horizon. The sun, for instance, which at a considerable altitude always appears round, assumes, as it approaches the horizon, a flattened or oval outline; its horizontal diameter being visibly greater than that in a vertical direction. When very near the horizon, this flattening is evidently more considerable on the lower side than on the upper; so that the apparent form is neither circular nor elliptic, but a species of oval, which deviates more from a circle below than above. This singular effect, which any one may notice in a fine sunset, arises from the rapid rate at which the refraction increases in approaching the horizon. Were every visible point in the sun's circumference equally raised by refraction, it would still appear circular, though displaced; but the lower portions being more raised than the upper, the vertical diameter is thereby shortened, while the two extremities of its horizontal diameter are equally raised, and in parallel directions, so that its apparent length remains the same. The dilated size (generally) of the sun or moon, when seen near the horizon, beyond what they appear to have when high up in the sky, has nothing to do with refraction. It is an illusion of the judgment, arising from the terrestrial objects interposed, or placed in close comparison with them. In that situation we view and judge of them as we do of terrestrial objects — in detail, and with an acquired habit of attention to parts. Aloft we have no associations to guide us, and their insulation in the expanse of sky leads us rather to undervalue than to over-rate their apparent magnitudes. Actual measurement with a proper instrument corrects our error, without, however, dispelling our illusion. By this we learn, that the sun, when just on the horizon, subtends at our eyes almost exactly the same, and the moon a materially less angle, than when seen at a great altitude in the sky, owing to its greater distance from us in the former situation as compared with the latter, as will be explained farther on.
(48.) After what has been said of the small extent of the atmosphere in comparison with the mass of the earth, we shall have little hesitation in admitting those luminaries which people and adorn the sky, and which, while they obviously form no part of the earth, and receive no support from it, are yet not borne along at random like clouds upon the air, nor drifted by the winds, to be external to our atmosphere. As such we have considered them while speaking of their refractions — as existing in the immensity of space beyond, and situated, perhaps, for any thing we can perceive to the contrary, at enormous distances from us and from each other.
(49.) Could a spectator exist unsustained by the earth, or any solid support, he would see around him at one view the whole contents of space — the visible constituents of the universe: and, in the absence of any means of judging of their distances from him, would refer them, in the directions in which they were seen from his station, to the concave surface of an imaginary sphere, having his eye for a centre, and its surface at some vast indeterminate distance. Perhaps he might judge those which appear to him large and bright, to be nearer to him than the smaller and less brilliant; liut, independent of other means of judging, he would have no warrant for this opinion, any more than for the idea that all were equidistant from him, and really arranged on such a spherical surface. Nevertheless, there would be no impropriety in his referring their places, geometrically speaking, to those points of such a purely imaginary sphere, which their respective visual rays intersect; and there would be much advantage in so doing, as by that means their appearance and relative situation could be accurately measured, recorded, and mapped down. The objects in a landscape are at every variety of distance from the eye, yet we lay them all down in a picture on one plane, and at one distance, in their actual apparent proportions, and the likeness is not taxed with incorrectness, though a man in the foreground should be represented larger than a mountain in the distance. So it is to a spectator of the heavenly bodies pictured, projected, or mapped down on that imaginary sphere we call the shy or heaven. Thus, we may easily conceive that the moon, which appears to us as large as the sun, though less bright, may owe that apparent equality to its greater proximity, and may be really much less; while both the moon and sun may only appear larger and brighter than the stars, on account of the remoteness of the latter.
(50.) A spectator on the earth's surface is prevented, by the great mass on which he stands, from seeing into all that portion of space which is below him, or to see which he must look in any degree downwards. It is true that, if his place of observation be at a great elevation, the dip of the horizon will bring within the scope of vision a little more than a hemisphere, and refraction, wherever he may be situated, will enable him to look, as it were, a little round the corner; but the zone thus added to his visual range can hardly ever, unless in very extraordinary circumstances, exceed a couple of degrees in breadth, and is always ill seen on account of the vapours near the horizon. Unless, then, by a change of his geographical situation, he should shift his horizon (which is always a plane passing through his eye, and touching the spherical convexity of the earth); or unless, by some movements proper to the heavenly bodies, they should of themselves come above his horizon; or, lastly, unless, by some rotation of the earth itself on its centre, the point of its surface which he occupies should be carried round, and presented towards a different region of space; he would never obtain a sight of almost one half the objects external to our atmosphere. But if any of these cases be supposed, more, or all, may come into view according to the circumstances.
(51.) A traveller, for example, shifting his locality on our globe, will obtain a view of celestial objects invisible from his original station, in a way which may be not inaptly illusstrated by comparing him to a person standing in a park close to a large tree. The massive obstacle presented by its trunk cuts off his view of all those parts of the landscape M'hich it occupies as an object; but by walking round it a