Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 22.djvu/306

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

On October 9th, Schmidt, of Athens, announced the discovery of a small companion comet, 4° southwest of the large one, and moving parallel with it. So far as we know, no one else has observed this companion, though it was carefully looked for at Washington, Princeton, and elsewhere. On October 21st, however, Mr. Brooks, of Phelps, New York, observed either the same or another one, some 8° south and east from the large comet. Like Schmidt's companion it was very faint (though large), and we have seen no observations of it from other sources. We have no means of ascertaining whether these attendants accompanied the comet on its way to the sun as separate objects, or whether they are fragments detached from the main body.

Mr. Brooks seems to think that the nebulous mass observed by him was in some way connected with the faint envelope and streamer just spoken of, which is not unlikely.

When the writer first saw the comet, on September 19th, it was impossible, with the great twenty-three-inch equatorial, to make out much except the nucleus itself. The comet was so near the sun that the object-glass could not be screened from the direct sunshine, which filled the whole field with glaring light. The finder of the instrument is itself, however, a powerful telescope of five inches aperture, and this was perfectly screened by the great tube, so that it furnished an admirable view of the beautiful object. To the naked eye the comet looked like some white-winged bird in swift flight toward the sun. The telescope showed the wings to be long, curved streams flowing backward from each side of the head—backward, that is, with reference to the sun; but they were, of course, really in advance of the comet, which at this time was receding from the sun.

PSM V22 D306 Head of comet on sept 19 seen with a 5 inch telescope.jpg
Fig. 2. Head of Comet September 19—5-inch Telescope.

The head of the comet had for its center a small round and brilliant nucleus, not well defined, but rather a nebulous star, some 4" in diameter; in front of this at a distance of perhaps 30" was an "envelope," and there was a second one at a distance of 2' or 3'. They were connected by a pair of eccentric circular arcs, and these arcs, coalescing with the outer envelope and prolonged, formed the skeleton of the "wings." Back of the nucleus, traces of the usual dark stripe could be detected. Fig. 2 presents the main features in outline, and every one will notice its close resemblance to Brodie's picture of Coggia's comet as seen on July 13, 1874. (The picture alluded to forms the frontispiece of Chambers's "Descriptive Astronomy," third edition.)

On the next day the comet was seen at Princeton for a few mo-