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It will, however, be necessary to be provided with a work in which the science is explained in a clear and popular manner, without having recourse to mathematical diagrams and figures.
There are many works on Astronomy that profess to be written for the use of those who have not studied mathematics; and yet it is impossible to understand any one of the subjects treated of in these works without having an acquaintance with mathematics. For wherever geometrical figures are introduced and attempted to be explained, it is not to be supposed that a person wholly unacquainted with geometry can comprehend the illustration.
It was, therefore, with a view to render the study of this most sublime and useful branch of knowledge more entertaining, and more easily understood by the general class of readers than it has hitherto been, that the present little Work is presented to the Public.
In its compilation, the greatest care has been taken to render the various subjects intelligible to those who have not studied mathematics, and every character which supposes the reader acquainted with that science has been carefully avoided. But to give the reader an idea of the appearance of the most extraordinary objects described in the Work, a number of neat and accurate engravings have been added, illustrative of those appearances. This must be considered as an advantage by the majority of that class of readers
for whom the Work is intended; and, should it be introduced into any school or academy as a text book, where Astronomy is scientifically taught, the teacher can easily supply the necessary diagrams.
The subjects treated of in the Volume, comprehend the substance of the Lectures which the author has been in the practice of delivering, for the last ten years, to his Astronomical Class, and were not originally intended for publication. But having often felt the want of a book, which he could recommend to the perusal of those who wished to improve themselves by reading on these subjects, he has been induced to publish an abridgement of the Lectures themselves. And to render the Work as amusing as possible, he has availed himself of the labours of the most celebrated Astronomers of the present day, particularly those of Sir William Herschel and La Place. The numbers, as well as the descriptions, contained in the following pages, may, therefore, be relied upon as agreeing with the latest and most accurate observations.
Considerable pains have also been taken to select short apposite extracts from the Poets who have celebrated Astronomy in their works. These, it is hoped, will not only contribute to the amusement of the reader, without diverting his attention from the subjects, but that they will have a tendency to impress them more strongly on his mind.
Such technical terms as were unavoidable, are either ex
plained at the beginning of the Volume, or when they occur in the course of the Work.
As there is no work yet extant on the same plan as the present, nor one which contains so much astronomical knowledge in so little compass, it is hoped it may have some effect in rendering the sublime science of Astronomy a more popular study than it has hitherto been.
Should it fall into the hands of any person who has already made considerable progress in that science, he is requested to keep in mind for what class of readers the Work is intended; and that simplicity, in works of science, is the greatest recommendation they can possess.