Page images
PDF
EPUB

51. The position of Arietis affords important facilities to nautical science. Difficult to comprehend as it may be, to the unlearned, the skilful navigator who should be lost upon an unknown sea, or in the midst of the Pacific ocean, could, by measuring the distance between Arietis and the Moon, which often passes near it, determine at once not only the spot he was in, but his true course and distance to any known meridian or harbor on the earth. See Part II., page 206.

Arietis comes to the meridian about 12 minutes after Shera tan, on the 5th December, near where the sun does in midsuinmer. Arietis, also, is nearly on the same meridian with Almaack, in the foot of Andromeda, 19° N. of it, and culminates only four minutes after it. The other stars in this constellation are quite small, constituting that loose cluster which we see between the Fly on the north, and the head of Cetus on the south.

When Arietis is on the meridian, Andromeda and Cassiopeia are a little past the meridian, nearly overhead, and Perseus with the head of Medusa, is as far to the east of it. Taurus and

Auriga are two or three hours lower down; Orion appears in the S. E., and the Whale on the meridian, just below Aries, while Pegasus and the Swan are seen half-way over in the west.

The manner in which the ancients divided the Zodiac into 12 equal parts, was both simple and ingenious. Having no instrument that would measure time exactly, "they took a vessel, with a small hole in the bottom, and having filled it with water, suffered the same to distill, drop by drop, into another vessel set beneath to receive it, beginning at the moment when some star rose, and continuing till it rose the next following night, when It would have performed one complete revolution in the heavens. The water falling down into the receiver they divided into twelve equal parts; and having twelve other small vessels in readiness, each of them capable of containing one part, they again poured all the water into the upper vessel, and observing the rising of some star in the Zodiac, at the same time suffered the water to drop into one of the small vessels. And as soon as it was full, they removed it, and set an empty one in its place. Just as each vessel was full, they took notice what star of the Zodiac rose at that time, and thus continued the process through the year, until the 12 vessels were filled."

Thus the Zodiac was divided into 12 equal portions, correspondig to the 12 mouths of the year commencing at the vernal equinox. Each of these ortions served as the visible presentative or sign of the month it appeared in.

Al' those stars in the Zodiac which were observed to rise while the first vessel was filling, were constellated and included in the first sign, and called Aries, an animal held in great esteem by the shepherds of Chaldea. All those stars in the Zodiac which rose while the second vessel was filling, were cot stellated and included in the second sign, which, for a similar reason, was denominated Taurus; and all those stars which were observed to rise while the third vessel was filling, were constellated in the third sign, and called Gemini, in allusion to the twin season of the flocks.

Thus each sign of 30° in the Zodiac, received a distinctive appellation, according to the fancy or superstition of the inventors; which names have ever since been retained, although the constellations themselves have since left their nominal signs more than 80 oehind. The sign Aries, therefore, included all the stars embraced in the first 80° of the Zodiac, and no more. The sign Taurus, in like manner, included all those stars embraced

51 Position of Arietis? Importance to mariners? When come to meridian? Where And meda and Cassiopeia then? Perseus? Taurus, Auriga, Orion, Pegasus and Swan What other stars in Aries? Ancient method of dividing the Zod c? Named aigne Y

E the next 80' of the Zodiac, or those between 30' and 60°, and so of the rest. Of theor ho imag.ne that the twelve constel ations of the Zodiac refer to the twelve tribos of Israel, some ascribe Aries to the tribe of Simeon, and others, to Gad.

HISTORY.

According to fable, this is the ram which bore the golden fleece, and carried Phryxus and his sister Helle through the air, when they fled to Colchis from the persecution of their stepmother Ino. The rapid motion of the ram in his aerial flight high above the earth, caused the head of Helle to turn with giddiness, and she fell from his back into that part of the sea which was afterwards called Hellespont, in commemoration of the dreadful event. Phryxus arrived safe at Colchis, but was soon murdered by his own father-in-law tes, who envied him his golden treasure. This gave rise to the celebrated Argonautic expedition under the command of Jason, for the recovery of the golden fleece.

Nephele, Queen of Thebes, having provided her children, Phryxus and Helle, with this noble animal, upon which they might elude the wicked designs of those who sought their Life, was afterwards changed into a cloud, as a reward for her parental solicitude; and the Greeks ever after cailed the clouds by her name. But the most probable account of the origin of this constellation is given in a preceding paragraph, where it is referred to the flocks of the Chaldean shepherds.

During the campaigns of the French army in Egypt, General Dessaix discovered among the ruins at Dendera, near the banks of the Nile, the great temple supposed by some to have been dedicated to Isis, the female deity of the Egyptians, who believed that the rising of the Nile was occasioned by the tears which she continua y shed for the loss of her brother Osiris, who was murdered by Typhon. Others suppose this edifice was erected for astronomical purposes, from the circumstance that too Zodiacs were discovered, drawn upon the ceiling, on opposite sides. On both t! 6. Zodiacs the equinoctial points are in Leo, and not in Aries; from which it has been concluded, by those who pertiuaciously endeavor to array the arguments of science against the chronology of the Bible and the validity of the Mosaic account, that these Zodiacs were constructed when the sun entered the sign Leo, which must have been 9720 years ago, or 4000 years before the inspired account of the creation. The infidel writers in France and Germany make it 10,000 years before. But we may "set to our seal," that whatever is true in fact and cor. ect in inference on this subject will be found, in the end, not only consistent with the Mosaic record, but with the common meaning of the expressions it uses.

The discovery of Champollion has put this question for ever at rest; and M. Latronne, a most learned antiquary, has very satisfactorily demonstrated that these Egyptian Zodiacs are merely the horoscopes of distinguished personages, or the precise situation of the heavenly bodies in the Zodiac at their nativity. The idea that such was their purpose and origin, Arst suggested itself to this gentleman on finding, in the box of a mummy, a similar Zodiac, with such inscriptions and characters as determined it to be the horoscope of the deceased person.

Of all the discoveries of the antiquary among the relics of ancient Greece, the ruins o. Palmyra, the gigantic pyramids of Egypt, the temples of their gods, or the sepulchres of heir kings, scarcely one so aroused and riveted the curiosity of the learned, as did the discovery of Champollion the younger, which deciphers the hieroglyphics of ancient Igypt.

The potency of this invaluable discovery has already been signally manifested in setling a formidable cont oversy between the champions of infidelity and those who mainain the Bible account of the creation. It has been shown that the constellation Pisces, since the days of Hipparchus, has come, by reason of the annual precession, to ccupy the same apparent place in the heavens that Aries did two thousand years ago. The Christian astronomer and the infidel are perfectly agreed as to the fact, and the amount of this yearly gain in the apparent motion of the stars. They both believe, and both can demonstrate, that the fixed stars have gone forward in the Zodiac about 50′ of a degree in every revolution of the heavens since the creation; so that were the world to light upon any authentic inscription or record of past ages, which should give the true position or longitude of any particular star at that time, it would be easy to fix an unques. tionable date to such a record. Accordingly, when the famous "Egyptian Zodiacs," which were sculptured on the walls of the temple at Dendera, were brought away en musse, and exhibited in the Louvre at Paris, they enkindled a more exciting interest in the thousands who saw them, than ever did the entrance of Napoleon. "Educated men of every order, and those who had the vanity to think themselves fuch," says the commentator of Champollion, "rushed to behold the Zodiacs. These Zodiacs were immediately published and commented upon, with more or less good faith and decorum.

HISTORY.-Discovery in Egypt? Use made of the Zodiacs? What did they prove

How ascertained? Who most zealous in opposing revelation? Means employed!

Bcleure struck out into systems very bold; and the spirit of infidelity, seling upon the discovery, flattered itself with the hope of drawing from thence new sport. It wa unjustifiably taken for granted, that the ruins of Egypt furnished astronomy with menuments, containing observations that exhibited the state of the heavens in the most remote periods. Starting with this assumption, a pretence was made of demonstrating by means of calculations received as infallible, that the celestial appearances assigned to these monuments extended back from forty-five to sixty-five centuries; that the Zodiacal system to which they must belong, dated back fifteen thousand years, and must reach far beyond the limits assigned by Moses to the existence of the world." Among those who stood forth more or less bold as the adversaries of Revelation, the most pro minent was M. Dupuis, the famous author of L'origine de tous les Cultes.

The infidelity of Dupuis was spread about by means of pamphlets, and the advocator of the Mosaic account were scandalized "until a new Alexander arose to cut the Gordiar anet, which men had vainly sought to untie. This was Champollion the younger, armed with his discorry." The hieroglyphics now speak a language that all car understan 1, and no one gainsay. "The Egyptian Zodiacs, then," says Latronne, "relate 'n no respect to astronomy, but to the idle phantasies of judicial astrology, as connected with 'he des tinies of the emperors who made or completed them."

TELESCOPIC OBJECTS.

1. a ARIETIS A DOUBLE STAR in the Ram's forehead; R. A. 1h. 58m. 10s, Dec. N. 22 42′ 02′′. A 2, yellow; B 11, purple.

Two thousand years ago the first meridian or Vernal Equinox passed through th star; but the recession of the equinox at the slow rate of 50 per year, has, in that length of time, carried the equinoctial nearly 60° to the west, where we now find it. See thi subject explained in the second part of the book.

2. B ARIETIS (Sheratan)-A BRIGHT STAR with a distant companion in the coil of the right horn; R. A. 1h. 45m. 49s.; Dec. N. 20° 01' 04". A 3, pearly white; B 11, duskv.

3. Y ARIETIS (Mesarthim)—a DOUBLE STAR just south of 3; R. A. 1h. 44m. 458.; Dec. N. 18° 30′ 05′′. A 4%, bright white; B 5, pale grey. A fine object. Map VIII., Fig. 2.

4. ε ARIETIS-A VERY CLOSE DOUBLE STAR near the root of the tail, and between it and Musca; R. A. 2h. 50m. 048.; Dec. N. 20° 41 ́ 08". A 5, pale yellow; B 6%, whitish. It requires a good telescope to separate them.

5. π ARIETIS-A neat TRIPLE STAR in the haunch, about one-third of the distance from 3 Arietis to Aldebaran; R. A. 2h. 40rn. 228.; Dec. N. 16° 47′ 09. A 5, pale yellow; 8%, flushed; C 11, dusky. A beautiful trio.

6. A QUADRUPLE STAR half way between a and y under the right horn; R. A. 1h. 50m. 43s.; Dec. N. 20° 16′ 07′′. A 6, topaz yellow; B 15, deep blue; C 10, lilac; D, pale blue An exquisite object.

7. A ROUND NEBULA near y Arietis, and just east of it; R. A. 1h. 50m. 34s.; Dec. N 18° 18' 06". It is large and pale, and lies among some small stars, some of which form curve across the south part of the field.

TRIANGULÆ (THE TRIANGLES).—MAP II.

52. The Triangles are situated between the head of Aries on the north, and the feet of Andromeda on the south. R. A. 2h.; Dec. N. 30°. They contain two stars of the 4th magnitnde, and two of the 5th; with several smaller. A line from Sheratan in Aries, to Almaack, will pass through the lucida Trianguli, about midway between them.

TELESCOPIU OBJECTS? What a Arietis? Other double stars? Triple? Quadruple! Any clusters? Nebulæ?

C2. Situation of the Triangles? Number and size of stars? How find their lucida?

HISTORY.

The upper or Northern Triangle is one of the ancient 48 asterisms; and Hevelius took three other stars between it and the head of Aries, to form Triangulum minus. The Latter figure, however, is discontinued, though shown on the map.

TELESCOPIC OBJECTS.

1 a TRIANGULI-A bright FOURTH MAGNITUDE STAR, with a Telescopic companion; R. A ih. 43m. 58s.; Dec. N. 25° 47′ 08′′. A&%, yellow; B 11, lilac.

2. E TRIANGULI-A MOST Delicate double STAR; R. A. 1h. 52m. 38s.: Dec. N. 83° & £5° ▲ 5, bright yellow; B 15, dusky.

8. A large and distinct but faint PALE WHITE NEBULA, between the Triangles and the bead of the Northern Fish; R. A. 1h. 24m. 51s.; Dec. N. 29° 51′ 08′′. A bright star a ttle north-west, and five others more remote in the east.

MUSCA (THE FLY).-MAP II.

53. This very small constellation lies directly between the back of Aries on the south, and the head of Medusa on the north. It has one star of the 2d, two of the 4th, ‘and two of the 5th magnitudes. An unimportant asterism, and not always mentioned in the catalogues, though shown on the map.

TELESCOPIC OBJECTS.

1. A FINE DOUBLE STAR Over the back of Aries, nearly midway between the Pleiades ano Andromedæ; R. A. 2h. 31m. 20s.; Dec. N. 26° 22′ 02′′. A 6, pale topaz; B 9, light blue.. An easy object.

2. a Mosca- COARSE QUADRUPLE STAR. in the body of the figure, and forming ita Jucida; R. A. 2h. 40in. 34s.; Dec. N. 26° 35′ 09". A 3, white; B 13, deep blue; C 11, lurid; D 9, pale grey. Both these objects are usually classed as belonging to Aries.

CETUS (THE WHALE).-MAP II.

54. As the whale is the chief monster of the deep, and the largest of the aquatic race, so is it the largest constellation in the heavens. It occupies a space of 50° in length, E. and W., with a mean breadth of 20° from N. to S. It is situated below Aries and the Triangles, with a mean declination of 12° S. It is represented as making its way to the E., with its body below, and its head elevated above the equinoctial; and is six weeks in passing the meridian. Its tail comes to the meridian on the 10th of November, and its head leaves it on the 22d of December. 55. This constellation contains 97 stars; two of the 2d mag uitude, ten of the 3d, and nine of the 4th. The head of Cetus

HISTORY.-Which ancient? Who formed the other? Now recognized, or not? TELESCOPIC OBJECTS? Double stars? Nebulæ ? 68. Situation of Musca? Stars? Relative importance? Is it always recognized as a Constellation? 54. Cetus? Comparative size? Situation? How represented? b. Number of stars Magnitudes? How may the bead of Cetus be known? Brightest

ay be readily distinguished, abct 20° S. E. of Aries, by meang of five remarkable stars, 4° and 5° apart, and so situated as to form a regular pentagon. The brightest of these is Menkar, of the 2d magnitude, in the nose of the Whale. It occupies the S. E. angle of the figure. It is 34° N. of the equinoctial, and 15° F. of El Rischa in the bight of the cord between the Two Fishes. It is directly 37° S. of Algol, and nearly in the same direction from the Fly. It makes an equilateral triangle with · Arietis and the Pleiades, being distant from each about 23° S., and may otherwise be known by a star of the 3d magnitude in the mouth, 3° W. of it, called Gamma, placed in the south middle angle of the pentagon.

56. Nu is a star of the 4th magnitude, 4° N. W. of G umma, and these two constitute the S. W. side of the pentagon in the bead of the Whale, and the N. E. side of a similar oblong gure in the neck.

Three degrees S. S. W. of Gamma, is another star of the 3d magnitude in the lower jaw, marked Delta, constituting the E. side of the oblong pentagon; and 6° S. W. of this, is a noted star in the neck of the Whale, called Mira, or the "wonderful star of 1596," which forms the S. E. side. This variable star was first noticed as such by Fabricius, on the 13th of August, 1596. It changes from a star of the 2d magnitude so as to become invisible once in 234 days, or about 7 times in 6 years. Herschel makes its period 331 days, 10 hours, and 19 minutes; while Hevelius assures us that it once disappeared for 4 years so that its true period, perhaps, has not been satisfactorily deter· mined.

The whole number of stars ascertained to be variable amounts to only 15; while thos which are suspected to be variable, amount to 87.

57. Mira is 7° S. S. E. of El Rischa, in the bend or knot o' the ribbon which connects the Two Fishes. Ten degrees S. of Mira, are 4 small stars, in the breast and paws, about 3° apart which form a square, the brightest being on the E. Ten degrees S. W. of Mira is a star of the 3d magnitude, in the heart called Baten Kaitos, which makes a scalene triangle with two other stars of the same magnitude 7° and 10° W. of it; alsc, an equilateral triangle with Mira and the easternmost one in the square.

rar? Position? Name? 56. Size and Position of Nu? Delta? Mira? Position! Peculiarity? When, and by whom first noticed? Period and extent of variability, Whole number of variable stars? 57. Baten Kaitos? Position with regard to Mirs

a ter stars?

« PreviousContinue »