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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 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 excentricity 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 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 wili 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 coun-, terbalance 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 her poles from her centrifugal force, therefore her polar axis is the 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 consequently the same hemisphere, towards us, which makes her rotation participate in the secular variations in her mean motion of revolution. Even if the angular velocities of rotation and revolution had not been nicely balanced
in the beginning of the moon's motion, the attraction of the earth would have recalled the greatest axis. to the direction of the line joining the centres of the moon and earth; so that it would have vibrated on each side of that line in the same manner as. a pendulum oscillates on each side of the vertical from the influence of gravitation. No such libration is perceptible; and as the smallest disturbance would make it evident, it is clear that if the moon has ever been touched by a comet, the mass of the latter must have been extremely small;. for if it had been only the hundred thousandth part of that of the earth, it would have rendered the libration sensible. According to analysis, a similar libration exists in the motions of Jupiter's satellites, which still remains insensible to observation.
It is true the moon is liable to librations depending upon the position of the spectator; at her rising, part of the western edge of her disc is visible, which is invisible at her setting, and the contrary takes place with regard to her eastern edge. There are also librations arising from the relative positions of the earth and moon in their respective orbits, but as they are only optical appearances, one hemisphere will be eternally concealed from the earth. For the same reason, the earth, which must be so splendid an object to one lunar hemisphere, will be for ever veiled from the
other. On account of these circumstances, the remoter hemisphere of the moon has its day as fortnight long, and a night of the same duration, not even enlightened by a moon, while the favoured side is illuminated by the reflection of the earth during its long night. A planet exhibiting a surface thirteen times larger than that of the
moon, with all the varieties of clouds, land, and water coming successively into view, would be a splendid object to a lunar traveller in a journey to his antipodes. The great height of the lunar mountains probably has a considerable influence on the phenomena of her motion, the more so as her compression is small, and her mass considerable. In the curve passing through the poles, and that diameter of the moon which always points to the earth, nature has furnished a permanent meridian, to which the different spots on her surface have been referred, and their positions determined with as much accuracy as those of many of the most remarkable places on the surface of our globe.
The distance and minuteness of Jupiter's satellites render it extremely difficult to ascertain their rotation. It was, however, accomplished by Sir William Herschel from their relative brightness. He observed that they alternately exceed each other in brilliancy, and, by comparing the maxima and minima of their illumination with their posi
tions relatively to the sun and to their primary, he found that, like the moon, the time of their rotation is equal to the period of their revolution about Jupiter. Miraldi was led to the same conclusion with regard to the fourth satellite, from the motion of a spot on its surface.
The rotation of the earth, which determines the length of the day, may be regarded as one of the most important elements in the system of the world. It serves as a measure of time, and forms the standard of comparison for the revolutions of the celestial bodies, which, by their proportional increase or decrease, would disclose
any changes it might sustain. Theory and observation concur in proving that, among the innumerable vicissitudes which prevail throughout creation, the period of the earth's diurnal rotation is immutable. A fluid, falling from a higher to a
a lower level, carries with it the velocity due to its revolution with the earth at a greater distance from the centre; it will therefore accelerate, although to an almost infinitesimal extent, the earth’s daily rotation. The sum of all these increments of velocity, arising from the descent of all the rivers on the earth's surface, would in time