Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/519

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503
THE FIXED STARS.

with automatic and periodical precision. I know of no domestic animal that can not be trained to look out for these agents when the training is conducted with skill and with determination. Like young children, and those persons of later life who have never tasted the agents in any form, nor experienced the sensations which come from them, the lower animals reject them at first, strive against them, and evidently are much disquieted and perplexed by the results which follow their use. But to err is inhuman as well as human, and so the beasts that perish, even they err and learn to like it. In the beast as in the man, the train of events follows the same course. The craving becomes connected almost immediately with deterioration, and at last the two conditions of desire and decay are spun into the same woof, and appear as the same substance.—Contemporary Review.

 
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THE BRIGHTNESS AND DISTRIBUTION OF THE FIXED STARS.
By HENRY FARQUHAR.

THOSE who view and admire the starry canopy above us—so fittingly associated, in the oft-quoted language of a great philosopher, with the moral nature of man—can hardly fail to remark how largely their pleasure in the grand prospect is due to the endless variety in its brilliancy. Just as the magnificence of mundane potentates is fully brought out only by the presence of a long train of inferiors more modestly arrayed, so Sirius and Capella would be less splendid had they not a multitude of lesser luminaries to heighten their glory by contrast. And how many hundreds of twinkling points, almost lost in the wide abyss, are there for every star of highest rank! In the proportion of common soldiers to captains, and of captains to corps commanders, this silent host of heaven is not unlike the less stately armies that tread earth instead of ether. And if astronomers have hitherto interested themselves less in questions of precedence and seniority than in the particular spot on the field occupied by each individual in the great array when drawn up for review; if, dropping the figure, differences of luster and the number of stars of the various grades have occupied less of their attention than the comparatively dry details of right-ascension and declination, with all the refinements of precession, nutation, aberration, proper motion, parallax, refraction, etc., affecting these—they are now making some amends for their neglect. The methodical study of stellar brightness belongs almost entirely, however, to the present century, Sir W. Herschel's first paper calling attention to the importance of the subject having appeared in