Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 3.djvu/785

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761
THE MOON.

"In all other respects the scene presented to the spectator on the moon was similar; but, as seen from the lunar Apennines, the glorious orb of earth shone high in the heavens; and the sun, source of the light then bathing her oceans and continents, lay far down below the level of the lunar horizon. . . .

"Infinitely more wonderful, however, and transcending in sublimity all that the heavens display to the contemplation of the inhabitants of earth, was the scene presented when the sun himself had risen. I shall venture here to borrow some passages from an essay entitled 'A Voyage to the Sun,' in which a friend of mine has described the aspect of the sun as seen from a station outside that atmosphere of ours which veils the chief glories of the luminary of day: 'The sun's orb was more brilliantly white than when seen through the air, but close scrutiny revealed a diminution of brilliancy toward the edge of the disk, which, when fully recognized, presented him at once as the globe he really is. On this globe could be distinguished the spots and the bright streaks called faculæ. This globe was surrounded with the most amazingly complex halo of glory. Close around the bright whiteness of the disk, and shining far more beautiful by contrast with that whiteness than as seen against the black disk of the moon in total eclipses, stood the colored region called the chromatosphere, not red, as it appears during eclipses, but gleaming with a mixed lustre of pink and green, through which, from time to time, passed the most startlingly brilliant coruscations of orange and golden yellow light. Above this delicate circle of color towered tall prominences and multitudes of smaller ones. These, like the chromatosphere, were not red, but beautifully variegated. . . .'

"Much more might be said on this inviting subject, only that the requirements of space forbid, obliging me to remember that the moon and not the sun is the subject of this treatise. The reader, therefore, must picture to himself the advance of the sun with his splendid and complicated surroundings toward the earth, suspended almost unchangingly in the heavens, but assuming gradually the crescent form as the sun drew slowly near. He must imagine also how, in the mean time, the star-sphere was slowly moving westward, the constellations of the ecliptic in orderly succession passing behind the earth at a rate slightly exceeding that of the sun's approach, so that he, like the earth, only more slowly, was moving eastward, so far as the star-sphere was concerned, even while the moon's slow diurnal rotation was carrying him westward toward the earth."

In the last chapter the physical condition of the moon's surface is treated, and the processes by which she probably reached her present condition are discussed at considerable length.