Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/237

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THE

 

POPULAR SCIENCE

 

MONTHLY



JULY, 1900.



CHAPTERS ON THE STARS,
By Professor SIMON NEWCOMB.
I. Introductory.

IT would be difficult to name any subject of investigation, the progress of which during our time has been more remarkable than that in the field of stellar astronomy. Several features of this progress are especially noteworthy. One of these is the mere extension of research. A natural result of the northern hemisphere being the home of civilized peoples was that, thirty years ago, the study of the southern heavens had been comparatively neglected. It is true that the curiosity of the inquiring astronomers of the past would not be satisfied without their knowing something of what was to be seen south of the equator. Various enterprises and establishments had therefore contributed to our knowledge of the region in question. As far back as 1667, during a voyage to St. Helena, Halley catalogued the brighter stars in the region near the South Pole. About 1750 Lacaille, of France, established an observing station at the Cape of Good Hope, and made a catalogue of several thousand stars which has remained a handy book for the astronomer up to the present time. In 1834-38 Sir John Herschel made a special voyage to the Cape of Good Hope, armed with the best telescopes which the genius of his father had shown him how to construct, for the purpose of doing for the southern heavens as much as possible of what his father had done for the northern. The work of this expedition forms one of the most important and interesting chapters in the history of astronomic science. Not only is Herschel's magnificent volume a classic of astronomy, but the observations which it contains are still as carefully and profitably studied as any that have