Page images
PDF
EPUB

reckoned by hundreds; and on a rough calculation, it would appear that many clusters of this description must contain at least twenty or thirty thousand stars, compacted and wedged together in a round space not more than a tenth part of that covered by the moon.” Commenting on this quotation, Dr. Dick remarks, " In this almost invisible point, which not one out of 50,000, or even one out of a million of earth's inhabitants has yet perceived, what a scene of grandeur and beneficence may be displayed: and what a confluence of suns, and systems, and worlds, and intelligences of various orders may exist, displaying the power, and wisdom, and goodness of the great Father of all! But suns of such size

insignificance of our little world. Yet the Christian will not forget that, as it has been nobly said, He took of the dust of this earth, and with it He rules the universe."

There are more than 3,000 nebulæ, of which that in Hercules may be taken as a specimen, scattered over the entire firmament; but they are found in greatest number in the southern hemisphere. The Milky Way, in which the individual stars may be counted by millions, is thought to be but one of the nebulæ. The researches of modern astronomers go far to prove that the solar system is located towards the central portion of the Milky Way; and this simple fact of itself is enough to inspire the highest feelings of wonder and admiration at the immensity of the universe.

Besides the nebula we have noticed, Hercules abounds with many other interesting telescopic objects, among which are several beautiful double stars, of various colours. One fact must not here be overlooked. One of the stars in this constellation is believed by Argelander, of Bonn, to be the star towards which the sun. with its attendant planets, is directing its course, at a most inconceivable velocity.

To the left of Hercules is the constellation Lyra, whose principal star, Vega, of the first degree of brilliancy, and of a pale sapphire-blue in the telescope, always catches the eye. It comes next in lustre to the vivid winter star, Sirius. This star is over our heads in August and September soon after dusk. Sir W. Herschel computed the diameter of Vega to be at least 33,000,000 miles, yet when he employed the enormous magnifying power of 6,000 in his 40-feet reflector, the star was a mere lucid point. Allowing this estimate to be correct, how vastly superior is Vega to the sun in magnitude, antl what must be its distance !

In Lyra, and near 'to Vega, is the beautiful “ring nebula,” the small-r of the two objects shown in Fig. 2. The view of this glittering assem blage of celestial gems in a large telescope is a scene of exquisite grandeur, which no drawing can fairly

[graphic][merged small]

and splendour cannot be supposed to be thrown together at random through the regions of immensity, without any ultimate design worthy of the Creator, or without relation to the enjoyments of intelligent existence; and therefore we may reasonably conclude that ten thousand times ten thousands, and myriads of exalted intelligences exist in that far distant region, compared with the number of which all the inhabitants of our globe are but as the drop of a bucket, or as the small dust of the balance."" The words of the Rev. T.W. Webb are exceedingly appropriate: -“The aspect of this collection of innumerable suns is enough to make the mind shrink with a sense of the

represent. In the great telescope at Cambridge Observatory, U.S., this object appears as a wreath of stars; its centre is no longer dark, but filled with glittering dust. The larger object, of a spiral shape, in Fig. 2, is the wondrous " whirlpool nebula” of Lord Rosse. Sir W. Herschel was the first astronomer who devoted his attention to the nebulæ, many of which his best telescopes resolved into individual stars. But the large telescope completed by Lord Rosse in 1815—of 54 feet

in the gorgeous spiral streamers seen in Lord Rosse's telescope. Here is a universe in itself, ten thousand times more grand and extensive than the wbole creation was supposed to be before Herschel commenced his successful career.

Adjoining Lyra is the splendid constellation Cygous, or the Swan, through which two branches of the Milky Way may be traced. This portion of the heavens was examined by the celebrated German astronomer Schroeter; who devoted some years

[graphic]

Fig. 2. focal length, and 6 feet diameter to an exploration of the moon. He presented an entire change in the possessed a very powerful reflecting appearance of the nebulous olij-cts telescope, 20 feet long and 19 inches to the views previously given by diameter; and when this instrument Ilerschel. Fig. 3 is an illustration was directed to the Milky Way in

the neighbourhood of Cygnus, the splendour of the sight drew from him the exclamation, "What omnipotence!" This constellation, with Lyra, and several others, is given in Fig. 4, which is a view of this portion of the heavens as seen by the naked eye. If a telescope of the smallest size be moved rapidly over

this region, the eye will be delighted Fig. 3.

by the appearance of an almost in

finite number of minute sparkling of this variety of appearance: it points, which resemble shining dust. shows the spiral nebula, in the con. Here is the renowned star 61 Cygni, stellation Canes Venatici, near the famous for the observations of Bessel, tail of Ursa Major, as figured by which resulted, in 1837, in our knowHerschel, which no one will recognize ledge of its actual distance. This star is double in a good telescope, and after a long course of observations Bessel computed its distance to be 657,000 times that of the earth from the sun. Now, the earth is 95,000,000 miles distant frout the sun, wbich number multiplied by 657,000 makes the distance of 61 Cygni 62,481,500,000,000 miles ! This calculation is accepted as within the mark by the entire astronomical world. Light-the swiftest moving body in the universe—flies from the sun to the earth in eight minutes, at the rate of 192,000 miles in a second; and thus it occupies 10 years

[graphic]

If the reader of these lines looks towards the south-east a little after midnight, he will notice a brilliant star, far exceeding in lustre the other gems of the starry concave. This object is the planet Jupiter, about which we hope soon to make some remarks. Mars has during the last few weeks been moving rapidly towards the east, and on the 21st of this month he may be seen very near the star Regulus, having left the stars Castor and Pollux far in the rear. The sun on the 21st attains its greatest northern altitude, on which occasion we have what is

[graphic]

Fig. 4. 114 days in traversing the infinite usually termed the longest day; but, void which divides the solar system as has been before remarked, tbe sud from the nearest star. A railway- is not so near to tbe earth now as in carriage, moving 20 miles an hour, winter. While the sun now souths or 480 miles a day, would, at this daily at a high elevation, the moon, rate of motion, continued witbout when visible in the evening, describes intermission, require 356,385,466 a somewhat smaller circle at this years to pass from 61 Cygni to the period of the year, compared to the earth. Yet this is considered one of great height it attains in winter. the nearest of the fixed stars !

The reason is that, in winter, the " Where ends this mighty building?

moon is in the same signs of the where begin

zodiac as those the sun now occupies. The suburbs of creation? where the wall A few months hence, the northern Whose battlements look o'er the vale zodiacal signs will pass before our Of non-existence-Nothing's strange view at night; and if the moon be

abode? Say at what part of space Jehovah

then passing through that portion dropped

of the heavens, it will rise to the His slackened line, and laid his balance same altitude as the sun att by.”

during this month. Saturn is now

a conspicuous object, although, like the moon, below the equator. This planet rises, on the 20th, at 4.26 p.m.; souths at 9.11 p.m.; and sets at 2.0 a.m. This shows that Saturn is not above the horizon in these latitudes more than 94 hours; whereas, if this planet were in the northern portion of the zodiac-say, near the star Aldebaran-it would attain a much higher elevation, and be visible 15 hours out of the 24. We should also remember that in summer, the time permitted for celestial observations is brief, compared with the long nights of winter. Next month the attention of the reader will be directed to the moon, as the nearest celestial object to the inhabitants of the earth.

E. W. B.
London.

A BIRD'S-EYE VIEW OF PASS

ING EVENTS. POLITICAL parties in this country are certainly not, at the present moment, in the arms of Morpheus. During the past month excitement has run somewhat high, and Reform demonstrations have been the order of the day. The Government bill touching the representation of the people has undergone various changes and as sumed various phases. To describe or characterize the measure is a task we have no desire to undertake. We leave every reader to form his own judgment. Ministers have gained, by the help of certain professed Liberals, at least one important victory, and Mr. Gladstone, in consequence, to the great regret of large numbers of persons, relinquished the leadership of the Liberal party. There is now reason to hope, however, that he has modified his decision. Into the region of prophecy as to what will come next we enter not. Avail. able data are too intangible and uncertain. We prefer leaving the intricate problem for time to solve. Last night the Government met with a signal defeat. Whether they will accept the defeat remains to be seen. The fact will, however, be known long before these lines see the light.

General Nelson and Lieutenant Brand, who were committed on the grave charge of being concerned in

the murder of G. W. Gordon, in Jamaica, have been acquitted. The grand jury at the Central Criminal Court ignored the bill against them. The Lord Chief Justice delivered a very elaborate exposition of the legal aspects of the case. On the decision of this case there is considerable diversity of opinion among public men. The widow of the late Mr. G. W. Gordon addressed a letter a short time ago to the Times newspaper, in reference to the assertions affecting the moral character of her husband which were made in the course of the proceedings at Market Drayton. She protests against the statements in question as " utterly false and calumnious," and speaks of herself as “the widow of a man who was wrongfully put to death.” She also says, “ One of my greatest consolations in my present state of bereavement is my conviction of my husband's innocence, and of the thorough uprightness of his character, and that one day these will be fully established."

WESLEYAN MISSIONARY ANNIVERSARY. - On Lord's - day last, April 28th, in upwards of seventy chapels belonging to the circuits of the four divisions into which London is mapped out by the Wesleyans, sermons were preached, and collections made in behalf of the missions of the body. At Liverpool-road the sermon was preached by the Rev. W. Morley Punshon, M.A., and the occasion attracted a rush of people, we are informed, not unlike that collected by Mr. Spurgeon's preaching in the Agricultural Hall. On Saturday morning, April 27th, the annual breakfast-meeting in connection with the mission to China, was held in the London Tavern, when the number of visitors was unusually large. Francis Lycett, Esq., sheriff of London, presided, supported by the Rev. W. Arthur, President of the Conference; the Rev. G. T. Perks, M. A., sheriff's chaplain ; the Rev. J. Rattenbury ; the Rev. G. Smith; the Rev. Dr. Osborn, and several of the leading laymen of the Wesleyan denomination. Mr. Sheriff Lycett made a spirited and able speech in favour of the mission to China; and other excellent addresses were delivered by the Revs. G. T. Morrison, R. S. Hardy, R. Stephenson, and Messrs. S. H. Smith and J. J. Lidgett. From a statement given by the Rev. Dr. Osborn, it appeared that the society supported five missionaries in Canton, and three in Hankow. Five preaching places had been opened in Canton, and one in Fatshau. The number of church members, though small, was steadily increasing. A medical mission had been established in Hankow, under the care of Dr. Porter Smith. The meeting was a very happy one, and the prospects of the mission to China were considered to be decidedly cheering. As we are obliged to write our article earlier than usual this time, we must defer till next month the report of the general annual ineeting of the Wesleyan Missionary Society.

UNITED METHODIST FREE CAURCH MISSIONARY ANNIVERSARY.-Our Methodist Free Church brethren have celebrated a very successful missionary anniversary this year. On Monday morning, April 22, a breakfast-meeting took place in the lower room of Exeter Hall. The attendance was very good. After the repast, the chair was taken by the Rev. W. Reed, Connexional Editor, in the unavoidable absence of the President through indisposition. The Rev. S. S. Barton, Missionary Secre. tary, gave a brief report of the operations of the society, and addresses were delivered by the Revs. J. Colman, J. Garside, A. Gilbert, R. Chew, and Messrs. Cuthbertson, Barlow,&c. An excellent feeling pervaded the meeting, and the interest was sustained to the close. In the evening of the same day, the annual meeting of the friends and supporters of the society was held ; 0. Ormrod, Esq., of Rochdale, in the chair. The spacious hall was well filled long before the time appointed for the opening of the proceedings. After devotional exercises, conducted by the Revs. S. Chester and J. Kirsop, the Chairman called on the Rev. S. S. Barton to read the

report. From this document, wbich was well drawn up, it appeared that the Methodist Free Church bas in the colonial and foreign fields 23 missionaries, 125 local preachers, 229 leaders, with 5,007 members, and about 500 on trial. In the same fields there are about 70 chapels and stations for the preaching of the Word that is able to make men wise unto salvation. At home, ten brethren had been employed during the past year in missionary work in Birkenhead, Bristol, Manchester, Nottingham, Ipswich, and other places, and their labours had not been unattended with success. They had held 1,173 meetings, in most cases exclusive of the Sunday services. They had also made 17,505 visits to the people in the several neighbourhoods, exclusive of 1,471 visits to the sick and dying; and 347 persons had, during the year, been gathered into the churches. On the Colonial and Foreign Mission Stations, a measure of success had likewise been realized. From Jamaica, the Eastern Coast of Africa, and China, the information was cheering and hopeful. The income for the year, at home and on the mission stations, had been £9,664 0s. 6d., and the expenditure, £10,638 14s. 8d., thus leaving a deficiency on the year of £874 143. 2d. In closing the report, the Secretary said: “We have had, in the lower hall to-day, a most interesting and, in some respects, a most affecting meeting. Oneof our brethren, who has laboured amongst us for years with great acceptance and success (the Rev.Joseph Garside), felt it this morning in his heart publicly to offer himself for whatever field of labour Our Missionary Committee might regard him the most suitable. And I am happy to inform you that, on the close of our morning meeting, another, a young brother, well known amongst us, and much beloved, especially in the City of London, came to me, and expressed his willingness to engage in this glorious work. These are, I trust, proofs and pledges that the missionary spirit is neither dead nor dying amongst us, but that, in fact, many of our brethren will get

« PreviousContinue »