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LECTURES ON ASTRONOMY
San Francisco, Oct. 10, 1860. To Professor John Phenix, Esq., San Diego Observatory.
Dear Sir :-Perceiving by perusal of your interesting article on Astronomy, that you have an organ which it is presumed you would like to dispose of, I am instructed by the vestry of the meeting-house on Street, to enter into a negotiation with you for its purchase. Please state by return of mail, whether or no the organ is for sale; if so, the price, and if it is in good repair, and plays serious tunes.
Very truly yours,
A. SLEEK STIGGINS, Ruling Elder and Agent for the sale of Stiggins's Elder Blow Tea.
PROFESSOR PHenix has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Mr. Stiggins's polite communication, and regrets to inform him that the organ alluded to has been disposed of to a member of the Turn-verein Association. Owing to some “ fatuity or crookedness of mind” on the part of the manufacturer, the organ never could be made to play but one tune, “The Low Backed Car," which Professor Phoenix considers a most sad and plaintive melody, calculated to fill the mind with serious and melancholy emotions. Professor P. takes occasion to inform Mr. S. that he has a bass trombone in his possession, which, with a double convex lens fitted in the mouthpiece, he has used in his observations on the stars. This instrument will be for sale at the conclusion of this course of lectures, and if adapted to Mr. Stiggins's purpose, is very much at his service.
LECTURES ON ASTRONOMY- PART II
This planet may be easily recognized by its bright, ruddy appearance, and its steady light. It resembles in size and color the stars Arcturus, in Bootes, and Antares, in Scorpio; but, as it is not, like them, continually winking, we may consider it, in some respects, a body of superior gravity. Our readers will be pleased to learn that Mars is an oblate spheroid, with a diameter of 4,222 miles. It is seven times smaller than the Earth; its day is forty-four minutes longer than ours, and its year is equal to twenty-two and a half of our months. It receives from the sun only one-half as much light and heat as the Earth, and has no moon; which, in some respects, may be considered a blessing, as the poets of Mars can not be eternally writing sonnets on that subject. Mars takes its name from the God of War, who was considered the patron of soldiers, usually
termed sons of Mars, though it was well remarked by some philosopher that they are generally sons of pa's also. Macaulay, however, in his severe review of Hanson's Life of the Rev. Eleazer Williams, remarks, with great originality, that“ It is a wise child that knows its own father.”
Mars is also the tutelary divinity of Filibusters, and we are informed by several of the late troops of the late President William Walker that this planet was of great use in guiding that potentate during his late nocturnal rambles through the late Republic of Sonora. The ruddy appearance of Mars is not attributed to his former bad habits, but to the great height of his atmosphere, which must be very favorable to the aeronauts of that region, where, doubtless, ballooning is the principal method of locomotion. Upon the whole, Mars is but a cold and ill-conditioned planet, and if, as some persons believe, the souls of deceased soldiers are sent thither, there can be little inducement to die in service, unless, indeed, larger supplies of commissary whisky and tobacco are to be found there than the present telescopic observations would lead us to believe.
This magnificent planet is the largest body, excepting the Sun, in the Solar System. “It may be readily distinguished from the fixed stars by its peculiar splendor and magnitude, appearing to the unclothed eye almost as resplendent as Venus, although it is more than seven times her distance from the Sun.” Its day is but nine hours, fifty-five minutes and fifty seconds; but it has rather a lengthy year, equivalent to nearly twelve years of our time. It is about thirteen hundred times larger than the Earth.