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complete successive view of the whole panorama may be obtained. Just in the same way, if we set off from any station, as London, and travel southwards, we shall not fail to notice that many celestial objects which are never seen from London come successively into view, as if rising up above the horizon, night after night, from the south, although it is in reality our horizon, which, travelling with us southwards round the sphere, sinks in succession beneath them. The novelty and splendour of fresh constellations thus gra
dually brought into view in the clear calm nights of tropical climates, in long voyages to the south, is dwelt upon by all who have enjoyed this spectacle, and never fails to impress itself on the recollection among the most delightful and interesting of the associations connected with extensive travel. A glance at the accompanying figure, exhibiting three successive stations of a traveller, A, B, C, with the horizon corresponding to each, will place this process in clearer evidence than any description.
(52.) Again: suppose the earth itself to have a motion of rotation on its centre. It is evident that a spectator at rest (as it appears to him) on any part of it will, unperceived by himself, be carried round with it: unperceived, we say, because his horizon will constantly contain, and be limited by, the same terrestrial objects. He will have the same
landscape constantly before his eves, in which all the familiar
objects in it, which serve him for landmarks and directions, retain, with respect to himself or to each other, the same invariable situations. The perfect smoothness and equality of the motion of so vast a mass, in which every object he sees around him participates alike, will (art. 15.) prevent his entertaining any suspicion of his actual change of place. Yet, with respect to external objects, — that is to say, all celestial ones which do not participate in the supposed rotation of the earth,—his horizon will have been all the while shifting in its relation to them, precisely as in the case of our traveller in the foregoing article. Recurring to the figure of that article, it is evidently the same thing, so far as their visibility is concerned, whether he has been carried by the earth's rotation successively into the situations A, B, C; or whether, the earth remaining at rest, he has transferred himself personally along its surface to those stations. Our spectator in the park will obtain precisely the same view of the landscape, whether he walk round the tree, or whether we suppose it sawed off, and made to turn on an upright pivot, while he stands on a projecting step attached to it, and allows himself to be carried round by its motion. The only difference will be in his view of the tree itself, of which, in the former case, he will see every part, but, in the latter, only that portion of it which remains constantly opposite to him, and immediately under his eye.
(53.) By such a rotation of the earth, then, as we have supposed, the horizon of a stationary spectator will be constantly depressing itself below those objects which lie in that region of space towards which the rotation is carrying him, and elevating itself above those in the opposite quarter, admitting into view the former, and successively hiding the latter. As the horizon of every such spectator, however, appears to him motionless, all such changes will be referred by him to a motion in the objects themselves so successively disclosed and concealed. In place of his horizon approaching the stars, therefore, he will judge the stars to approach his horizon; and when it passes over and hides any of them, he will consider them as having sunk below it, or set; while those it has just disclosed, and from which it is receding, will 8eem to be rising above it.
(54.) If we suppose this rotation of the earth to continue in one and the same direction, — that is to say, to be performed round one and the same axis, till it has completed an entire revolution, and come back to the position from which it set out when the spectator began his observations,—it is manifest that every thing will then be in precisely the same relative position as at the outset: all the heavenly bodies will appear to occupy the same places in the concave of the sky which they did at that instant, except such as may have actually moved in the interim; and if the rotation still continue, the same phenomena of their successive rising and setting, and return to the same places, will continue to be repeated in the same order, and (if the velocity of rotation be uniform) in equal intervals of time, ad infinitum.
(55.) Now, in this we have a lively picture of that grand phenomenon, the most important beyond all comparison which nature presents, the daily rising and setting of the sun and stars, their progress through the vault of the heavens, and their return to the same apparent places at the same hours of the day and night. The accomplishment of this restoration in the regular interval of twenty-four hours is the first instance we encounter of that great law of periodicity*, which, as we shall see, pervades all astronomy; by which expression we understand the continual reproduction of the same phenomena, in the same order, at equal intervals of time.
(56.) A free rotation of the earth round its centre, if it exist and be performed in consonance with the same mechanical laws which obtain in the motions of masses of matter under our immediate control, and within our ordinary experience, must be such as to satisfy two essential conditions. It must be invariable in its direction with respect to the sphere itself, and uniform in its velocity. The rotation must be performed round an axis or diameter of the sphere, whose poles or extremities, where it meets the surface, correspond always to the same points on the sphere. Modes of rotation of a solid body under the influence of external agency are conceivable, in which the poles of the imaginary line or axis about which it is at any moment revolving shall hold no fixea places on the surface, but shift upon it every moment. Such changes, however, are inconsistent with the idea of a rotation of a body of regular figure about its axis of symmetry, performed in free space, and without resistance or obstruction from any surrounding medium, or disturbing influences. The complete absence of such obstructions draws with it, of necessity, the strict fulfilment of the two conditions above mentioned.
* Tltpioios, a going round, a circulation or revolution.
(57.) Now, these conditions are in perfect accordance with what we observe, and what recorded observation teaches us, in respect of the diurnal motions of the heavenly bodies. "We have no reason to believe, from history, that any sensible change has taken place since the earliest ages in the interval of time elapsing between two successive returns of the same star to the same point of the sky; or, rather, it is demonstrable from astronomical records that no such change has taken place. And with respect to the other condition, — the permanence of the axis of rotation, — the appearances which any alteration in that respect must produce, would be marked, as we shall presently show, by a corresponding change of a very obvious kind in the apparent motions of the stars; which, again, history decidedly declares them not to have undergone.
(58.) But, before we proceed to examine more in detail how the hypothesis of the rotation of the earth about an axis accords with the phenomena which the diurnal motion of the heavenly bodies offers to our notice, it will be proper to describe, with precision, in what that diurnal motion consists, and how far it is participated in by them all; or whether any of them form exceptions, wholly or partially, to the common analogy of the rest. We will, therefore, suppose the reader to station himself, on a clear evening, just after sunset, when the first stars begin to appear, in some open situation whence a good general view of the heavens can be obtained. He will then perceive, above and around him, as it were, a vast concave hemispherical vault, beset with stars of various magnitudes, of which the brightest only will first catch his attention in the twilight; and more and more will appear as the darkness increases, till the whole sky is over-spangled with them. When he has awhile admired the calm magnificence of this glorious spectacle, the theme of so much song, and of so much thought, — a spectacle which no one can view without emotion, and without a longing desire to know something of its nature and purport, — let him fix his attention more particularly on a few of the most brilliant stars, such as he cannot fail to recognize again without mistake after looking away from them for some time, and let him refer their apparent situations to some surrounding objects, as buildings, trees, &c selecting purposely such as are in different quarters of his horizon. On comparing them again with their respective points of reference, after a moderate interval, as the night advances, he will not fail to perceive that they have changed their places, and advanced, as by a general movement, in a westward direction; those towards the eastern quarter appearing to rise or recede from the horizon, while those which lie towards the west will be seen to approach it; and, if watched long enough, will, for the most part, finally sink beneath it, and disappear; while others, in the eastern quarter, will be seen to rise as if out of the earth, and, joining in the general procession, will take their course with the rest towards the opposite quarter.
(59.) If he persist for a considerable time in watching their motions, on the same or on several successive nights, he will perceive that each star appears to describe, as far as its course lies above the horizon, a circle in the sky; that the circles so described are not of the same magnitude for all the stars; and that those described by different stars differ greatly in respect of the parts of them which lie above the horizon. Some, which lie towards the quarter of the horizon which is denominated the South *, only remain for a short time above
* We suppose our observer to be stationed in some northern latitude; soma where in Europe, for example.