Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 31.djvu/199

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.
187
ASTRONOMY WITH AN OPERA-GLASS.

Lastly, it is quite possible that much which is a puzzle to one generation will not be so to the next. It was often asked twenty years ago what would become of faith when men no longer believed the Bible to be infallible, and what of morality when they ceased to believe in eternal torments. But those who are now growing to maturity seem to find no lack of grounds for belief or of sanctions for practice. And the next generation may find no difficulty in the conditions of theological thought described in the first half of this article. The claims of Christian piety are strong, and the simplest doctrines are its best support. Duty, philanthropy, love, social and political improvement earnestly prosecuted in the fear of God and in the spirit of Christ, are independent of the ideas of dogmatic theology, and often unconscious of its changes.—Fortnightly Review.

 

ASTRONOMY WITH AN OPERA-GLASS.

THE STARS OF SUMMER.

By GARRETT P. SERVISS.

A SINGULAR proof of popular ignorance of the starry heavens, as well as of popular curiosity concerning any uncommon celestial phenomenon, is furnished by the curious notions prevailing about the planet Venus. When Venus began to attract general attention in the western sky in the early evening some two months ago, speculation quickly became rife about it, particularly on the great Brooklyn Bridge. As the planet hung dazzlingly bright over the New Jersey horizon, some people appeared to think it was the light of Liberty's torch, mistaking the bronze goddess's real flambeau for a part of the electric-light system of the metropolis. Finally (to judge from the letters written to the newspapers, and the questions asked of individuals supposed to know something about the secrets of the sky), the conviction seems to have become pretty widely distributed that the strange light in the west was no less than an electrically illuminated balloon, nightly sent skyward by Mr. Edison, for no other conceivable reason than a wizardly desire to mystify his fellow-men. I have positive information that this ridiculous notion has been actually entertained by more than one person of intelligence. And it is not improbable, that as Venus glows with increasing splendor in the serene evenings of June, she will continue to be mistaken for some petty artificial light instead of the magnificent world that she is, sparkling out there in the sunshine like a globe of burnished silver. Yet Venus as an evening star is not so rare a phenomenon that people of intelligence should be surprised at it. Once in every 584 days she reappears in the sunset sky—

"Gem of the crimson-colored even,
Companion of retiring day."