Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/76

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66
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

of stars designated Lambda (λ), Kappa (κ), and Iota (ι), mark the extended right hand chained to the rock, and Zeta (ζ) and some smaller stars southwest of it show the left arm and hand, also stretched forth and shackled.

In searching for picturesque objects in Andromeda, begin with Alpheratz and the groups forming the hands. Below the girdle will be seen a rather remarkable arrangement of small stars in the mouth of the Northern Fish. Now follow up the line of the girdle to the star Nu (ν). If your glass has a pretty wide field, your eye will immediately catch the glimmer of the Great Nebula of Andromeda in the same field with the star. This is the oldest or earliest discovered of the nebulæ, and, with the exception of that in Orion, is the grandest visible in this hemisphere. Of course, not much can be expected of an opera-glass in viewing such an object; and yet a good glass, in clear weather and the absence of the moon, makes a very attractive spectacle of it.

PSM V32 D076 The great andromeda nebula.jpg
Map 5.—The Great Andromeda Nebula.

By turning the eyes aside, the nebula can be seen, extended as a faint, wispy light, much elongated on either side of the brighter nucleus. The cut here given shows, approximately, the appearance of the nebula, together with some of the small stars in its neighborhood, as seen with a field-glass. With large telescopes it appears both larger and broader, expanding to a truly enormous extent, and in Bond's celebrated picture of it we behold, gigantic rifts running through it, while the whole field of sky in which it is contained appears sprinkled over with minute stars apparently between us and the nebula. It was in, or probably more properly speaking, in line with, this nebula that a new star suddenly shone out in 1885, and, after flickering and fading for a few months, disappeared. That the outburst of light in this star had any real connection with the nebula is exceedingly improbable. Although it appeared to be close beside the bright nucleus of the nebula, it is likely that it was really hundreds or thousands of millions of miles either this side or the other side of it. Why it should suddenly have blazed into visibility, and then in so short a time have disappeared, is a question as difficult as it is interesting. The easiest way to account for it, if not the most satisfactory,