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GEOGRAPHY OF THE HEAVENS,
CLASS BOOK OF ASTRONOMY;
ACCOMPANIED BY A
BY ELIJAH H. BURRITT, A. M.
WITH AN INTRODUCTION,
BY THOMAS DICK, LL. D.
Author of the Christian Philosopher, &c.
PUBLISHED BY F. J. HUNTINGTON AND CO.
F. J. HUNTINGTON & Co. have recently published, in one small volume 16mo., suitable for children just entering upon the study of Astronomy, and introductory to the " Geography of the Heavens," ASTRONOMY FOR BEGINNERS,
with a Map and 27 Engravings. By Francis Fellowes, A. M.
"This is one of the most successful attempts to simplify sublime science to the comprehension of children. The author has employed an arrangement and style entirely new, with a clear and luminous pen, and in the happiest manuer. I cordially commend to parents, to teachers, and to children, this result of his labours."-Mrs. Sigourney.
according to Act of Congress, in the year 1833, by
F. J. HUNTINGTON,
in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of Connecticut.
In presenting a new edition of this work to the public, it is proper to point out several very important improvements which have been made.
Dr. Dick of Scotland, so well known both in Europe and in this country, as the author of the Christian Philosopher, and other scientific and popular works, has prepared, expressly for the work, an Introduction on the Advantages of the Study of Astronomy. So far as authority and name can go to give currency to the work, and to establish the confidence of teachers in it as a proper text book, this simple fact, the publisher flatters himself, furnishes every testimonial which can be desired: beside which, the contributions of Professor Olmsted, of Yale College, cannot but be read with extreme interest.
The work has been thoroughly revised, and the errors of former editions corrected: subsequent to which, it has undergone a thorough examination from one of our most eminent mathematicians and astronomers. It will be observed that several new Chapters, on the important subjects of Planetary Motion, The Phenomena of Day and Night, The Seasons, The Tides, The Obliquity of the Ecliptic, The Precession of the Equinoxes, &c., have been added.
It is only necessary to observe the Atlas, to discover that the Plates have been engraved entirely anew, upon steel, and in a very superior and beautiful style. The figures of the Constellations are far more natural and spirited than those of the former Atlas. Especially, the characters which represent the stars are distinct, so that the pupil can discern, at once, to what class they belong. One new plate has been introduced, illustrating to the eye, the Relative Magnitudes, Distances, and Positions of the different bodies which compose the Solar System. This plate the teacher will find to be of very important service, and to aid him much in his verbal explanations. The arrangement of the Plates in the present Atlas, is such, that the teacher and pupil can easily place them, in mind, so as to have a distinct view of the entire surface of the visible Heavens.
Such are the principal improvements which have been made in the work. They speak for themselves. The publisher knows not what could express his satisfaction with the past, or his hopes for the future success of the work, better than such improvements.
I HAVE long felt the want of a Class Book, which should be to the starry heavens, what Geography is to the earth; a work that should exhibit, by means of appropriate delineations, the scenery of the heavens: the various constellations arranged in their order, point out and classify the principal stars, according to their magnitudes and places, and be accompanied, at the same time, with such familiar exercises and illustrations, adapted to recitation, as should bring it within the pale of popular instruction, and the scope of juvenile understandings.
Such a work I have attempted to supply. I have endeavoured to make the descriptions of the stars so familiar, and the instructions for finding them so plain, that the most inexperienced should not fail to understand them. In accomplishing this, I have relied but little upon globes and maps, or books. I very early discovered that it was an easy matter to sit down by a celestial globe, and, by means of an approved catalogue, and the help of a little graduated slip of brass, make out, in detail, a minute description of the stars, and discourse quite familiarly of their position, magnitude and arrangement, and that when all this was done, I had indeed given the pupil a few additional facilities for finding those stars upon the artificial globe, but which left him, after all, about as ignorant of their apparent situation in the heavens, as before. I came, at length, to the conclusion, that any description of the stars, to be practically useful, must be made from a careful observation of the stars themselves, and made at the time of observation.
To be convinced of this, let any person sit down to a celestial globe or map, and from this alone, make out a set of instructions, in regard to some favourite constellation, and then desire his pupil to trace out in the firmament, by means of it, the various stars which he has thus described. The pupil will find it little better than a fancy sketch. The bearings and distances, and especially, the comparative brightness, and relative positions, will rarely be exhibited with such accuracy that the young observer will be inspired with much confidence in his guide.
I have demonstrated to myself, at least, that the most judicious instructions to put on paper for the guide of the young in this study, are those which I have used most successfully, while in a clear evening, without any chart but the firmament above, I have pointed out, with my finger, to a group of listeners, the various stars which compose this and that constellation.
In this way, the teacher will describe the stars as they actually appear to the pupil-taking advantage of those obvious and more striking features that serve to identify and to distinguish them from all others. Now if hese verbal instructions be committed to wri
ting and placed in the hands of any other pupil, they will answer nearly the same end. This is the method which I have pursued in this work. The descriptive part of it, at least, was not composed by the light of the sun, principally, nor of a lamp, but by the light of the stars themselves. Having fixed upon the most conspicuous star, or group of stars, in each constellation, as it passed the meri. dian, and with a pencil carefully noted all the identifying circumstances of position, bearing, brightness, number and distance their geometrical allocation, if any, and such other descriptive features as seemed most worthy of notice, I then returned to my room to transcribe and classify these memoranda in their proper order; repeating the same observations at different hours the same evening, and on other evenings at various periods, for a succession of years; always adding such emendations as subsequent observations matured. To satisfy myself of the applicability of these descriptions, I have given detached portions of them to different pupils, and sent them out to find the stars; and I have generally had the gratification of hearing them report, that "every thing was just as I had described it." If a pupil found any difficulty in recognizing a star, I re-examined the description to see if it could be made better, and when I found it susceptible of improvement, it was made on the spot. It is not pretended, however, that there is not yet much room for improvement; for whoever undertakes to delineate or describe every visible star in the heavens, assumes a task, in the accomplishment of which, he may well claim some indulgence.
The maps which accompany the work, in the outlines and arrangement of the constellations, are essentially the same with those of Dr. Wollaston. They are projected upon the same principles as maps of Geography, exhibiting a faithful portraiture of the heavens for every month, and consequently for every day in the year, and do not require to be rectified, for that purpose, like globes.
They are calculated, in a good measure, to supersede the necessity of celestial globes in schools, inasmuch as they present a more natural view of the heavenly bodies, and as nearly all the problems which are peculiar to the celestial globe, and a great number besides, may be solved upon them in a very simple and satisfactory manner. They may be put into the hands of each individual in a class at the same time, but a globe cannot be. The student may conveniently hold them before his eye to guide his survey of the heavens, but a globe he cannot. There is not a conspicuous star in the firmament which a child of ten years may not readily find by their aid. Besides, the maps are always right and ready for use, while the globe is to be rectified and turned to a particular meridian; and then if it be not held in that position for the time being, it is liable to be moved by the merest accident or breath of wind.
There is another consideration which renders an artificial globe of very little avail as an auxiliary for acquiring a knowledge of the stars while at school. It is this:-the pupil spends one, perhaps two weeks, in solving the problems, and admiring the figures on it, in which time it has been turned round and round a hundred times; it is then returned safely to its case, and some months afterwards, or it may be the next evening, he directs his eye upwards to recog