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applied to denote the aggregate. On the conclusion of the task, this stupendous fact would be evident, that this spherical universe of suns and systems, limited in number, would bear no proportion to the vast void which would surround it; a void, compared with which, the fair fields of creation would be an atom, and from some distant point of space, the whole of the vast assemblage would sink into the dim twinkling of a solitary star! ( See Frontispiece to the Astronomical Occurrences.)
But there is a consideration connected with this subject which renders it probable that matter is infinitely extended; for were the universe limited, the surrounding void would have no action on the bodies it environed; these would then exert all their gravitating force on each other; those systems on the confines of creation would be less acted upon in one direction than another, without any attractive influence to keep them in their position. In the other direction, these exterior systems would be most powerfully acted upon by the interior, wbich action would ultimately draw them towards the centre with accelerated velocity, till the whole would ultimately rush together, and form one immense mass of matter! But when we admit that suns, and systems of suns, are continued without end, we see a counterbalance of this action, an equilibrium preseryed, and the mind seems to be relieved from a species of horror.
If 'tis an error, 'tis an error sprung
A whole creation, and a single grain.
The less is left to Chaos? These bodies, vast in magnitude, infinite in number, and the tenants of space are in rapid motion ; but what imagination can possibly conceive of that power, which impels the movement! An idea may be acquired of this rapid motion by a reference to familiar objects, the velocity of a ship impelled by the wind, particularly if urged over the rolling billows by a furious tempest; the swiftness of a bird winging its flight through the air, especially if pursued by an eagle; the motion of a ball projected from a cannon, which, in some cases, is at the rate of 800 miles in an hour. But these are creeping things,-Saturn, one of the most tardy in its course of any of the planets,-a globe 900 times larger than the earth, is impelled at the rate of 22,000 miles in an hour, carrying with him a system of stupendous rings, and seven moons larger than the earth's satellite. Jupiter, whose vast circumference would comprise within it, a thousand such globes as the one we inhabit, moves at the rate of 29,000 miles in an hour. This earth is urged forward at the rate of 68,000 miles in an hour, and Mercury still faster, being 107,000 miles in the same time; but even these motions are slow, when compared with that of the comet of 1680, which went half round the sun in ten hours and a half, and its tail, (at least an hundred millions of miles in length) turning round in the same time, keeping nearly in the direction opposite to the sun; the velocity of this comet, at this
part of its orbit, (its perihelion) was 880,000 miles in an hour, and so closely did it approach the sun, that supposing the centrifugal or projectile force to have been annihilated at this point of its course, it would have fallen into the sun in less than three minutes !
In the sphere of the fixed stars, there is reason to believe that bodies are in motion, whose velocities are proportionably greater than any in the planetary system. One of the double stars completes its revolution in fiftyseven years; in estimating the orbit described by a lesser sun about a greater, it will not be necessary to suppose (though probably it is the case) that the two bodies are as remote from each other as the nearest fixed star is from our sun,-namely, twenty billions of miles ; were it even admitted, that the line of separation between them was only a twentieth part of this distance, the revolving star would then move at the rate of 12,000,000 miles in an hour! This motion, observed among many of the fixed stars, confirms the belief, that our sun, with its bright retinue of comets, planets and satellites, is moving forwards through space, with a velocity past conjecture; it is therefore probable that the solar system will never, in the course of its most protracted duration, ever revisit any part of the same curve or line it has moved over since the creation !
Spirit alone can distance the career,
This then is the scene, and these are the objects, amongst which we are again to expatiate; which deserve the profound attention of every individual who professes to admire the works of the Great Creator,He who sits enthroned in glory unapproachable, sustaining all the vast orbs which his bands have made, ruling over each as the Governor, supplying the necessities of all, as the bountiful Benefactor, and wherever intelligence is implanted in these vast realms of material existence, leaving not himself without witness that he is at once the sole source of life and felicity :
A Sovereign which o'er all things rolls his eye,
Obliquity of the Ecliptic. The magnitudes of this angle at several epochs during the present year are exhibited in the following
23 27 35 .9
23 27 35 .6 October 1st,
23 27 37 .0 December 31st, ..........
.. 23 27 36 .9 January 1st, the mean obliquity is 23 27 41.7 The lunar equations of the equinoctial points at the same times are as follow; namely,
January 1st, the equation is ........ 124.9
14 .8 October 1st, ...
- 15.6 December 31st, ..........
- 16.3 The sun enters Aquarius at 29 min. after 11 of the night of the 20th of this month.
Phases of the Moon.