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or 4, it is expected to arrive, and, according to some philosophers, to breathe desolation on the human race,-to hurry this earth nearer to the sun,-or rush with it, through the realms of ether, to the utmost confines of the solar system,-or at once, by its shock, to reduce this beautiful frame to its original chaos.
This great and fearful star' was first observed in the year 1305, about the season of Easter: it returned again in the summer of 1456, when all Europe beheld it with fear and amazement; the Turks were then engaged in a successful war, in which they destroyed the Greek empire; Christians in general supposing their destruction portended by its appearance. Its next visit to these lower heavens was in the years 1531 and 1607, in this latter year continuing visible from the 26th of September to the 5th of November following: its course was through Ursa Major, Buötes, Serpentis, and Ophiuchus; the diameter of the head two minutes, and that of the nucleus eleven or twelve seconds, of an unequal roundness, exhibiting phases like the moon or inferior planets; its light pale and watery; the tail like a flaming lance or sword,' seven degrees in length, of considerable breadth, projected, with some deviation, towards that part of the heavens opposite to the sun. This is a brief outline of the observations of that period (1607), annexed to which is a specification of the direful effects that followed the appearance of this splendid enigma.' "The Duke of Lorrain died. A great war between the Swedes and Danes !
In the year 1682 the wanderer again visited this hemisphere, and was observed by Dr. Halley, who predicted its return in 1757 or 1758, the precise time being uncertain, from the attractive influence of Saturn and Jupiter, the former lengthening the period of the comet one hundred days, and the latter, from his superior quantity of matter, not less than five hundred and ten days: it re-appeared, accordingly, about the end of December 1758, deviating only nineteen
days from the calculated time. On this occasion it did not exhibit any remarkable appearance, by reason of the unfavourable situation of the earth in its orbit,—the comet being nearly in conjunction with the sun. From a comparison of these dates, it is evident that the period of this comet is about 75 or 76 years, there being the following variations :
From 1531 to 1607 ........ 76 years 62 days
74 . 323 Allowing for the attraction of the larger planets, its period may be stated as 76 years 192 days, in which time it describes an orbit, the remotest point of which is 3420 millions of miles from the sun, and its nearest not more than 47 millions. This comet may not return so early as 1832, but there is scarcely any doubt of its re-appearance during the year 1833 or 1834. As to its being the agent in the destruction of our globe, it is certain that this is not the opinion of astronomers generally. The following is A COMPARATIVE VIEW OF THE ELEMENTS OF
THE EXPECTED COMET.
Distances of its Peri
helion, that of the
ear h being 1. 1456. June ..... 8 22
0:58550 1531. August .. 24 21 17
0.56700 1607. October 26 3 49
0·58680 1682. September 14 7 38
0:58328 1759. March 12 13 31
0-58349 Longitudes of the ascending Node. 1456. 1531. 1607. 1682.
1759. 1: 180 30 1 190 25 1• 200 21' l. 21° 16' 30" 1.230 49
Places of Perihelion. 10. 1° 0 10: 1° 39 10 20 16' 10 20 521 45" 10: 30 10
Inclination of its Orbit to the Ecliptic. 170 56' 170 56' 170 2
170 39 Course in its orbit Retrograde, Many causes may operate to affect these elements, as well as alter the period assigned, or even to prévent the return of the comet altogether. In its vast
excursions into space, 1620 millions of miles beyond the orbit of Uranus, it may encounter the attractions of other bodies, so as to carry it off from our system, or, coming in contact with another comet, its matter may be entirely dissipated, and its atoms scattered through space, till, falling within the attractive influence of other bodies, may constitute aeroliths or meteors. This supposition is grounded on the nonappearance of the comet of 1770, which ought, by calculation, to have returned ten times; but which, since that date, has never been seen. But we can assure those whose terrors have been excited by anticipating such an awful visitant, upon so dire an errand, even though the event be contemplated through the somewhat long perspective of five or six years, that there is more apparent cause of alarm from another comet, whose period is much shorter, and whose path is nearer the orbit of the earth, than the one to which we have been principally referring ;-we mean the comet of 1819: its period is only three years and 107 days, and it never ranges beyond the orbit of Jupiter; it approaches nearer Mercury than any other of the planets, and crosses the earth's orbit more than sixty times in the course of a century; and certainly it is within the limits of chance, that some collision may occur between this comet and the earth. The consequence of such event would, according to some, more than realise the terrors which superstition has conceived of it. The earth's period of revolution, in all probability, would be changed, either by carrying it nearer to, or farther from, the sun; a different inclination of the axis might be given, and there would be a consequent change of the seasons; the diurnal motion might be either accelerated or retarded, by which the length of the days would be affected; the vast continents of the globe would again be covered with the ocean, which, deserting its bed, would rush towards the new equator.
(To be continued.)
The Naturalist's Diary
For FEBRUARY 1829. Now vapours gross obscure the air,
Or by the northern blast congealed,
Or sheets of snow blanch o'er the field.
With feeble light and mental gloom;
When heav'n should shine, and earth should bloom. The sudden thaws which take place in Februarythe return of frost and snow-and the change again to rain and sleet, contribute to render this month particularly unfavourable to the pedestrian, and the lover of out-of-door exercise and amusements. Yet there are some intervals of clear, frosty weather, and these should not be suffered to pass away without a daily enjoyment of them in pleasant and healthful walks. Is the day fine, clear, and frosty? (observes a popular writer) - There are the dry pleasures of a healthy walk, and the wholesome inflictions of the north wind, with its cold cuttings of our cheeks; the north-east, with its oblique showery dartings of something like pins and needles (by the poets and naturalists called sleet) at the same cheeks, as if they were Janus-cheeked targets, made for their skilful exercises; the east wind, with its keen, bitter, biting shrewdness, and razoring of our whole faces; and the west wind, with its warmer airs, like the warm life-breathings of beauty into the cold face of age, whispering to us remembrances of the youth-giving spring, and inspiring us with hopes of the flowery and joy-giving summer. There is that dazzling 'white wonder', the snow, blanching the green and pastoral earth, if we are suburbanly situated, or dwelling deeper in the sylvan valleys of nature. There is the fresh morning delight of treading upon a wide carpet whiter than the down of swans, and soft as the young cygnet's breast, and of beating out a path through fields, and over heath and common, where none have trodden before ; and the pleasure of imagining ourselves adventurous travellers, imprinting our way through Siberian snows, far from the home and the beings we love; and the still greater pleasure of knowing and feeling that we are not such travellers, but that we have a domestic fire-side, which is warming and brightening up for us, and hearts circling around it still warter, and eyes still brighter with that inward fire which burns in the heart, but consumes it not. Although we may be cold, almost to the heart's core, we may yet loiter to see the wind winnow and waft the snow like white chaff about the air, or drive it up against the half-hidden hedges, burying with their own consent the chilly and shivering sheep, who have crept there for its sheltering warmth; or to see it swept up into wide wave-like wreaths under the jut. ting crags, abrupt hills, and rising grounds, spreading a white bed for winter to repose him on, in his slow annual journey over the earth; or to watch the heavy hanging trees tossing their wbite arms in the air, and throwing off their light fleecy load upon the lap of their chilly mother, the earth, who loves the protecting warmth and gentle weight of it; or to listen to-the lively notes of the merry robin (the true emblem of a true poet, who cares not for 'poverty and a' that,' so he may have his sylvan song, and get a crumb here, and a berry there, and now and then an attentive ear to his sole winter-song);, or to note the busy and noisy crow, 'foraging for sticks and straw,' and the ravenous and hungry raven, winging his way like a dark spirit, seeking what he may devour. Or is the day rainy, and the fields drenched, and the roads too muddy for pedestrianism ? Let us, in the absence of horse, or chaise, or close carriage, cultivate our fireside, and renew our acquaintance with some favourite old author, or form a life-friendship with a newer one. We may consider a good author (an early