A Treatise on Astronomy by Sir John Frederick William Herschel

By Sir John Frederick William Herschel

Astronomer and thinker Sir John Herschel (1792-1871), the son of William and the nephew of Caroline, released his 1833 Treatise on Astronomy within the 'Cabinet Cyclopaedia' sequence of which the 1st quantity have been his greatly profitable initial Discourse at the research of common Philosophy. he's considered as the founding father of the philosophy of technological know-how, and made contributions in lots of fields together with arithmetic, the newly found means of images, and the botany of southern Africa, which he studied whereas making astronomical observations of the southern hemisphere, and the place he used to be visited via Darwin and Fitzroy at the Beagle voyage. It was once despite the fact that because the average successor to his father's astronomical experiences that he's top remembered, and this ebook, that is written for the lay individual, areas powerful emphasis at the significance of actual statement and on keeping off preconceptions or hypotheses now not in response to such remark.

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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.

It must be observed, however, that with this distribution of its strata the inequalities of mountains and valleys have no concern : these exercise no more influence in modifying their general spherical figure than the inequalities at the bottom of the sea interfere with the general sphericity of its surface. ) It is the power which air possesses, in common with all transparent media, of refracting the rays of light, or bending them out of their straight course, which ren<< ders a knowledge of the constitution of the atmosphere important to the astronomer.

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 i t ; 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.

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