The Discovery of a World in the Moone/Chapter 9

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Proposition 8.

The spots represent the Sea, and the brighter parts the Land.

WHen I first compared the nature of our earth and water with those appearances in the Moone; I concluded contrary to the proposition, that the brighter parts represented the water, and the spots the land; of this opinion likewise was Keplar at the first; but my second thoughts, and the reading of others, [1] have now convinced me (as after he was) of the truth of that Proposition which I have now set downe. But before I come to the confirmation of it, I shall mention those scruples which at first made mee doubt of the truth of this opinion.

1. It may be objected, 'tis probable, if there be any such sea and land as ours, that it bears some proportion and similitude with ours: but now this Proposition takes away all likenesse betwixt them, for whereas the superficies of our earth is but the third part of the whole surface in the globe, two parts being overspread with the water (as Scaliger[2] observes) yet here according to this opinion, the Sea should be lesse then the Land, since there is not so much of the bespotted, as ther is of the enlightened parts, wherefore ’tis probable, that either there is no such thing at all, or else that the brighter parts are the Sea.

2. The water, by reason of the smoothnesse of its superficies, seemes better able to reflect the Sun beames then the earth, which in most places is so full of ruggednesse of grasse and trees, and such like impediments of reflection, and besides, cõmon experience shewes, that the water shines with a greater and more glorious brightnesse then the earth, therefore it should seeme that the spots are the earth, and the brighter parts the water.

But to the first it may be answered.

1. There is no great probability in this consequence, that because 'tis so with us, therefore it must be so with the parts of the Moone, for since there is such a difference betwixt them in divers other respects, they may not, perhaps, agree in this.

2. That assertion of Scaliger[3] is not by all granted for a truth. Fromundus with others, thinke, that the superficies of the Sea and Land in so much of the world as is already discovered, is equall, and of the same extension.

3. The Orbe of thicke and vaporous aire which encompasses the Moone, makes the brighter parts of that Planet appeare bigger then in themselves they are; as I shall shew afterwards.

To the second it may be answered, that though the water be of a smooth superficies, and so may seeme most fit to reverberate the light, yet because 'tis of a perspicuous nature, therefore the beames must sinke into it, and cannot so strongly and clearely be reflected. Sicut in speculo ubi plumbum abrasum fuerit, (saith Cardan) as in Looking-glasses where part of the lead is raized off, and nothing left behind to reverberate the image, the species must there passe through and not backe againe; so it is where the beames penetrate and sinke into the substance of the body, there cannot be such an immediate and strong reflection as when they are beate backe from the superficies, and therefore the Sunne causes a greater heate by farre upon the Land then upon the water. Now as for that experiment, where 'tis said, that the waters have a greater brightnesse then the Land: I answer, 'tis true onely there where they represent the image of the Sunne or some bright cloud, and not in other places, as is very plaine by common observation.

So that notwithstanding those doubts, yet this Proposition may remaine true, that the spots may be the Sea, and the brighter parts the Land. Of this opinion was Plutarch: unto him assented Keplar and Galilæus, whose words are these[4], Si quis veterum Pythagoræorum sententiam excuscitare velit, lunam scilicet esse quasi tellurem alteram, ejus pars lucidior terrenam superficiem, obscurior verò aqueam magis congruè repræsentet. Mihi utem dubium fuit numquam terrestris globi à longè conspecti, atque a radiis solaribus perfusi, terream superficiem clariorem, obscuriorem verò aqueam sese in conspectum daturam. "If any man have a minde to renew the opinion of the Pythagoreans, that the Moone is another earth, then her brighter parts may fitly represent the earths superficies, and the darker part the water: and for my part, I never doubted but that our earthly globe being shined upon by the Sunne, and beheld at a great distance, the Land would appeare brightest and the Sea more obscurely." The reasons may be.

1. That which I urged about the foregoing Chapter, because the water is the thinner part, and therefore must give the lesse light.

2. Because observation tels us, that the spotted parts are alwaies smooth and equall, having every where an equality of light, when once they are enlightened by the Sunne, whereas the brighter parts are full of rugged gibbosities and mountaines having many shades in them, as I shall shew more at large afterwards.

That in this Planet there must be Seas, Campanella[5] indeavours to prove out of Scripture interpreting the waters above the Firmament spoken of in Genesis to be meant of the Sea in this world. For (saith he) 'tis not likely that there are any such waters above the Orbes to moderate that heate which they receive from their swift motion (as some of the Fathers thinke) nor did Moses meane the Angells which may be called spirituall waters, as Origen and Austin[6] would have it, for both these are rejected by the generall consent: nor could he meane any waters in the second region, as most Commentators interpret it. For first there is nothing but vapours, which though they are afterwards turned into water, yet while they remaine there, they are onely the matter of that element, which may as well be fire or earth, or aire. 2. Those vapors are not above the expansum, but in it. So that hee thinkes there is no other way to salve all, but by making the Planets severall worlds with Sea & Land, with such Rivers and Springs, as wee have here below: Especially since Esdras[7] speakes of the springs above the Firmament, but I cannot agree with him in this, nor doe I thinke that any such thing can be proved out of Scripture.

Before I proceede to the next Position, I shall first answer some doubts which might be made against the generality of this truth, whereby it may seeme impossible that there should be either Sea or Land in the Moone; for since she moves so swiftly as Astronomers observe, why then does there nothing fall from her, or why doth shee not shake something out by the celerity of her revolution? I answer, you must know that the inclination of every heavie body, to its proper Center doth sufficiently tie it unto its place, so that suppose any thing were separated, yet must it necessarily returne againe, and there is no more danger of their falling into our world then there is feare of our falling into the Moone.

But yet there are many fabulous relations of such things as have dropped thence. There is a tale of the Nemean Lyon that Hercules slew, which first rushing among the heards out of his unknowne den in the Mountaine of Cytheron in Bœotia, the credulous people thought he was sent from their Goddesse the Moone. And if a whirle-winde did chance to snatch any thing up, and afterwards raine it downe againe, the ignorant multitude are apt to believe that it dropt from Heaven. Thus Avicenna relates the story of a Calfe which fell downe in a storme, the beholders thinking it a Moone-calfe, and that it fell thence. So Cardan travelling upon the Apennine Mountaines, a sudden blast tooke off his hat, which if it had beene carryed farre, he thinks the peasants who had perceived it to fall, would have sworne it had rained hats. After some such manner many of our prodigies come to passe, and the people are willing to believe anything, which they may relate to others as a very strange and wonderfull event. I doubt not but the Trojan Palladium, the Romane Minerva, and our Ladies Church at Loretto, with many sacred reliques preserved by the Papists might droppe from the Moone as well as any of these.

But it may be againe objected, suppose there were a bullet shot up in that world, would not the Moone runne away from it, before it could fall downe, since the motion of her body (being every day round our earth) is farre swifter than the other, and so the bullet must be left behinde, and at length fall downe to us? To this I answer,

1. If a bullet could be shot so farre till it came to the circumference of those things which belong to our center, then it would fall downe to us.

2. Though there were some heavie body a great height in that ayer, yet would the motion of its centre by an attractive vertue still hold it within its convenient distance, to that whether their earth moved or stood still, yet would the same violence cast a body from it equally farre. That I may the plainer expresse my meaning, I will set downe this Diagramme.

Diagram, Page 133, The Discovery of a World in the Moone, 1638.png

Suppose this earth were A, which was to move in the circle C,D. and let the bullet be supposed at B. within its proper verge; I say, whether this earth did stand stil or move swiftly towards D, yet the bullet would still keepe at the same distance by reason of that Magneticke vertue of the center (if I may so speake) whereby all things within its spheare are attracted with it. So that the violence to the bullet, being nothing else but that whereby 'tis removed from its center, therefore an equall violence can carry a body from its proper place, but at an equal distance whether or no the center stand still or move.

The impartiall Reader may finde sufficient satisfaction for this and such other arguments as may be urged against the motion of that earth in the writings of Capernicus and his followers, unto whom for brevities sake I will referre them.


  1. Opt. Astro. c. 6. num. 9. Dissert. cum nuncio Gal.
  2. Exercit. 38
  3. De Meteoris l. 5. c. 1. Art. 1.
  4. De facie lun. Dissertatio. Nunc. Syd.
  5. Apologia pro Galilæo.
  6. Confession. l. 13. c. 32.
  7. 2 Esdr. 4. 7.