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though not so immediately applicable to the wants of man, unfolds one of the properties of light,--that medium without whose cheering influence all the beauties of the creation would have been to us a blank. It is observed, that those eclipses of the first satellite, which happen when Jupiter is near conjunction, are later by 16 26' than those which take place when the planet is in opposition. But, as Jupiter is nearer to us when in opposition by the whole breadth of the earth's orbit than when in conjunction, this circumstance was attributed to the time employed by the rays of light in crossing the earth's orbit, a distance of about 190 millions of miles; whence it is estimated that light travels at the rate of 190000 miles in one second. Such is its velocity, that the earth, moving at the rate of 19 miles in a second, would take two months to pass through a distance which a ray of light would dart over in eight minutes. The subsequent
. discovery of the aberration of light confirmed this astonishing result.
Objects appear to be situate in the direction of the rays which proceed from them. Were light propagated instantaneously, every object, whether at rest or in motion, would appear in the direction of these rays; but as light takes some time to travel, we see Jupiter in conjunction, by means of rays that left him 16m 269 before ; but, during that time, we have changed our position, in consequence of the motion of the earth in its orbit; consequently we refer Jupiter to a place in which he is not. His true position is in the diagonal of the parallelogram, whose sides are in the ratio of the velocity of light to the velocity of the earth in its orbit, which is as 190000 to 19. In consequence of the aberration of light, the heavenly bodies seem to be in places in which they are not. In fact, if the earth were at rest, rays from a star would pass along the axis of a telescope directed to it: but if the earth were to begin to move in its orbit, with its usual velocity, these rays would strike against the side of the tube ; it would, therefore, be necessary to incline the telescope a little, in order to see the star. The angle contained between the axis of the telescope and a line drawn to the true place of the star, is its aberration, which varies in quantity and direction in different parts of the earth's orbit; but as it is only 20":37, or 20"-5, it is insensible in ordinary cases.
The velocity of light deduced from the observed aberration of the fixed stars, perfectly corresponds with that given by the eclipses of the first satellite. The same result, obtained from sources so different, leaves not a doubt its truth. Many such beautiful coincidences, derived from circumstances apparently the most unpromising and dissimilar, occur
in the rest of physical astronomy, and prove dependences which we might otherwise be unable to trace. The identity of the velocity of light, at the distance of Jupiter, and on the earth's surface, shows that its velocity is uniform ; and if light consists in the vibrations of an elastic fluid or ether filling space, an hypothesis which accords best with observed phenomena, the uniformity of its velocity shows that the density of the fluid throughout the whole extent of the solar system must be proportional to its elasticity. Among the fortunate conjectures which have been confirmed by subsequent experience, that of Bacon is not the least remarkable. “It produces in me,' says the restorer of true philosophy, 'a doubt whether the face of the serene and starry heavens be seen at the instant it really exists, or not till some time later; and whether there be not, with respect to the heavenly bodies, a true time and an apparent time, no less than a true place and an apparent place, as astronomers say, on account of parallax. For it seems incredible that the species or rays of the celestial bodies can pass through the immense interval between them and us in an instant, or that they do not even require some considerable portion of time.'
As great discoveries generally lead to a variety of conclusions, the aberration of light affords a direct proof of the motion of the earth in its orbit;
and its rotation is proved by the theory of falling bodies, since the centrifugal force it induces retards the oscillations of the pendulum in going from the pole to the equator. Thus a high degree of scientific knowledge has been requisite to dispel the errors of the senses.
The little that is known of the theories of the satellites of Saturn and Uranus is, in all respects, similar to that of Jupiter. The great compression of Saturn occasions its satellites to move nearly in the plane of its equator. Of the situation of the equator of Uranus we know nothing, nor of his compression; but the orbits of his satellites are nearly perpendicular to the plane of the ecliptic, and by analogy they ought to be in the plane of his equator.
Our constant companion, the moon, next claims our attention.
Several circumstances concur to render her motions the most interesting, and at the same time the most difficult to investigate of all the bodies of our system. In the solar system planet troubles planet, but in the lunar theory the sun is the great disturbing cause ; his vast distance being compensated by his enormous magnitude, so that the motions of the moon are more irregular than
those of the planets; and, on account of the great ellipticity of her orbit, and the size of the
the approximations to her motions are tedious and difficult beyond what those unaccustomed to such investigations could imagine. Among the innumer rable periodic inequalities to which the moon's motion in longitude is liable, the most remarkable are the Evection, the Variation, and the Annual Equation. The forces producing the evection diminish the excentricity of the lunar orbit in conjunction and opposition, and augment it in quadrature. The period of this inequality is less than thirty-two days. Were the increase and diminution always the same, the evection would only depend upon the distance of the moon from the sun ; but its absolute value also varies with her distance from the perigee of her orbit. Ancient astronomers, who observed the moon solely with a view to the prediction of eclipses, which can only happen in conjunction and opposition, where the excentricity is diminished by the evection, assigned too small a value to the ellipticity of her orbit. The variation, which is at its maximum when the moon is 45o distant from the sun, vanishes when that distance amounts to a quadrant, and also when the moon is in conjunction and opposition; consequently, that inequality never could have been discovered from the eclipses: its period is half a lunar month. The annual equation arises from