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and as the ratios of the distances of the planets from the sun are known by Kepler's law, their absolute distances in miles are easily found.

Far as the earth seems to be from the sun, it is near to him when compared with Uranus; that planet is no less than 1843 millions of miles from the luminary that warms and enlivens the world; to it, situate on the verge of the system, the sun must appear not much larger than Venus does to us. The earth cannot even be visible as a telescopic object to a body so remote; yet man, the inhabitant of the earth, soars beyond the vast dimensions of the system to which his planet belongs, and assumes the diameter of its orbit as the base of a triangle, whose apex extends to the stars.

Sublime as the idea is, this assumption proves ineffectual, for the apparent places of the fixed stars are not sensibly changed by the earth's annual revolution; and with the aid derived from the refinements of modern astronomy and the most perfect instruments, it is still a matter of doubt whether a sensible parallax has been detected, even in the nearest of these remote suns. If a fixed star had the parallax of one second, its distance from the sun would be 20500000 millions of miles. At such a distance not only the terrestrial orbit shrinks to a point, but, where the whole solar system, when seen in the focus of the most powerful telescope, might be covered by the thickness of a spider's thread. Light, flying at the rate of 200000 miles in a second, would take three years and seven days to travel over that space; one of the nearest stars may therefore have been kindled or extinguished more than three years before we could have been aware of so mighty an event. But this distance must be small when compared with that of the most remote

of the bodies which are visible in the heavens. The fixed stars are undoubtedly luminous like the sun; it is therefore probable that they are not nearer to one another than the sun is to the nearest of them. In the milky way and the other starry nebulæ, some of the stars that seem to us to be close to others, may be far behind them in the boundless depth of space; nay, may rationally be supposed to be situate many thousand times further off: light would therefore require thousands of years to come to the earth from those myriads of suns, of which our own is but the dim and remote companion.'

The masses of such planets as have no satellites are known by comparing the inequalities they produce in the motions of the earth and of each other, determined theoretically, with the same inequalities given by observation, for the disturbing cause must necessarily be proportional to the effect it produces. But as the quantities of matter in any two primary planets are directly as the cubes of the mean distances at which their satellites revolve, and inversely as the squares of their periodic times, the mass of the sun and of any planets which have satellites, may be compared with the mass of the earth. In this manner it is computed that the mass of the sun is 354936 times greater than that of the earth; whence the great perturbations of the moon and the rapid motion of the perigee and nodes of her orbit. Even Jupiter, the largest of the planets, is 1070.5 times less than the sun. The mass of the moon is determined from four different sources,-from her action on the terrestrial equator, which occasions the nutation in the axis of rotation; from her horizontal parallax, from an inequality she produces in the sun's longitude, and from her action on the tides. The three first quantities, computed from theory, and compared with their observed values, give her mass respectively equal to the






part of that of the earth, which do not differ very much from each other; but, from her action in raising the tides, which furnishes the fourth method, her mass appears to be about the seventy-fifth part of that of the earth, a value that cannot differ much from the truth.

The apparent diameters of the sun, moon, and planets are determined by measurement; therefore their real diameters may be compared with that of the earth; for the real diameter of a planet is to the real diameter of the earth, or 8000 miles, as the apparent diameter of the planet to the apparent diameter of the earth as seen from the planet, that is, to twice the parallax of the planet. The mean apparent diameter of the sun is 1920", and with the solar parallax 8".65, it will be found that the diameter of the sun is about 888000 miles; therefore,

the centre of the sun were to coincide with the centre of the carth, his volume would not only include the orbit of the moon, but would extend nearly as far again, for the moon's

mean distance from the earth is about sixty times the earth's mean radius or 240000 miles; so that twice the distance of the moon is 480000 miles, which differs but little from the solar radius; his equatorial radius is probably not much less than the major axis of the lunar orbit.

The diameter of the moon is only 2160 miles; and Jupiter's diameter of 88000 miles is incomparably less than that of the sun. The diameter of Pallas does not much exceed 71 miles, so that an inhabitant of that planet, in one of our steam-carriages, might go round his world in five or six hours.

The oblate form of the celestial bodies indicates rotatory motion, and this has been confirmed, in most cases, by tracing spots on their surfaces, whence their poles and times of rotation have been determined. The rotation of Mercury is unknown, on account of his proximity to the sun; and that of the new planets has not yet been ascertained. The sun revolves in twenty-five days ten hours, about an axis that is directed towards a point half way between the pole star and Lyra, the plane of rotation being inclined a little more than 70° to that on which the earth revolves. From the rotation of the sun, there is every reason to believe that he has a progressive motion in space, although the direction to which he tends is as yet unknown: but in consequence of the reaction of the planets, he describes a small irregular orbit about the centre of inertia of the system, never deviating from his position by more than twice his own diameter, or about seven times the distance of the moon from the earth.

The sun and all his attendants rotate from west to east on axes that remain nearly parallel to themselves in every point of their orbit, and with angular velocities that are sensibly uniform. Although the uniformity in the direction of their rotation is a circumstance hitherto unaccounted for in the economy of Nature, yet from the design and adaptation of every other part to the perfection of the whole, a coincidence so remarkable cannot be accidental; and as the revolutions of the planets and satellites are also from west to east, it is evident that both must have arisen from the primitive causes which have determined the planetary motions.

The larger planets rotate in shorter periods than the smaller planets and the earth; their compression is consequently greater, and the action of the sun and of their satellites occasions a nutation in their axes, and a precession of their equinoxes, similar to that which obtains in the terrestrial spheroid from the attraction of the sun and moon on the prominent matter at the equator. In comparing the periods of the revolutions of Jupiter and Saturn with the times of their rotation, it appears that a year of Jupiter contains nearly ten thousand of his days, and that of Saturn about thirty thousand Saturnian days.

The appearance of Saturn is unparalleled in the system of the world; he is surrounded by a ring even brighter than himself, which always remains in the plane of his equator, and viewed with a very good telescope, it is found to consist of two concentric rings, divided by a dark band. By the laws of mechanics, it is impossible that this body can retain its position by the adhesion of its particles alone; it must necessarily revolve with a velocity that will generate a centrifugal force sufficient to balance the attraction of Saturn. Observation confirms the truth of these principles, showing that the rings rotate about the planet in 10 hours, which is considerably less than the time a satellite would take to revolve about Saturn at the same distance. Their plane is inclined to the ecliptic at an angle of 31°; and in consequence of this obliquity of position they always appear elliptical to us, but with an eccentricity so variable as even to be occasionally like a straight line drawn across the planet. At present the apparent axes of the rings are as 1000 to 160; and on the 29th of September, 1832, the plane of the rings will pass through the centre of the earth when they will be visible only with superior instruments, and will appear like a fine line across the disc of Saturn. On the 1st of December in the same year, the plane of the rings will pass through the centre of the sun.

It is a singular result of the theory, that the rings could not maintain their stability of rotation if they were everywhere of uniform thickness; for the smallest disturbance would destroy the equilibrium, which would become more and more deranged, till at last they would be precipitated on the surface of the

planet. The rings of Saturn must therefore be irregular solids of unequal breadth in the different parts of the circumference, so that their centres of gravity do not coincide with the centres of their figures.

Professor Struve has also discovered that the centre of the ring is not concentric with the centre of Saturn; the interval between the outer edge of the globe of the planet and the outer edge of the ring on one side, is 11".073, and on the other side the interval is 11".288; consequently there is an eccentricity of the globe in the ring of 0".215.

If the rings obeyed different forces, they would not remain in the same plane, but the powerful attraction of Saturn always maintains them and his satellites in the plane of his equator. The rings, by their mutual action, and that of the sun and satellites, must oscillate about the centre of Saturn, and produce phenomena of light and shadow, whose periods extend to many years.

The periods of the rotation of the moon and the other satellites are equal to the times of their revolutions, consequently these bodies always turn the same face to their primaries; however, as the mean motion of the moon is subject to a secular inequality which will ultimately amount to many circumferences, if the rotation of the moon were perfectly uniform, and not affected by the same inequalities, it would cease exactly to counterbalance the motion of revolution; and the moon, in the course of ages, would successively and gradually discover every point of her surface to the earth. But theory proves that this never can happen; for the rotation of the moon, though it does not partake of the periodic inequalities of her revolution, is affected by the same secular variations, so that her motions of rotation and revolution round the earth will always balance each other, and remain equal. This circumstance arises from the form of the lunar spheroid, which has three principal axes of different lengths at right angles to each other. The moon is flattened at the poles from her centrifugal force, therefore her polar axis is least; the other two are in the plane of her equator, but that directed towards the earth is the greatest. The attraction of the earth, as if it had drawn out that part of the moon's equator, constantly brings the greatest axis, and con

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