Across the Zodiac eBook

Percy Greg
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 587 pages of information about Across the Zodiac.
The twilight to north and south extended on the image of the Earth deep into that part on which as yet the Sun was below the horizon, and consequently daylight faded into darkness all but imperceptibly, save between the tropics.  We watched long and intently as league by league new portions of Europe and Africa, the Mediterranean, and even the Baltic, came into view; and I was able to point out to Eveena lands in which I had traveller, seas I had crossed, and even the isles of the Aegean, and bays in which my vessel had lain at anchor.  This personal introduction to each part of the image, now presented to her for the first time, enabled her to realise more forcibly than a lengthened experience of astronomical observation might have done the likeness to her own world of that which was passing under her eyes; and at once intensified her wonder, heightened her pleasure, and sharpened her intellectual apprehension of the scene.  When we had satiated our eyes with this spectacle, or rather when I remembered that we could spare no more time to this, the most interesting exhibition of the evening, a turn of the machinery brought Venus under view.  Here, however, the cloud envelope baffled us altogether, and her close approach to the horizon soon obliged the director to turn his apparatus in another direction.  Two or three of the Asteroids were in view.  Pallas especially presented a very interesting spectacle.  Not that the difference of distance would have rendered the definition much more perfect than from a Terrestrial standpoint, but that the marvellous perfection of Martial instruments, and in some measure also the rarity of the atmosphere at such a height, rendered possible the use of far higher magnifying powers than our astronomers can employ.  I am inclined to agree, from what I saw on this occasion, with those who imagine the Asteroids to be—­if not fragments of a broken planet which once existed as a whole—­yet in another sense fragmentary spheres, less perfect and with surfaces of much greater proportionate irregularity than those of the larger planets.  Next was presented to our view on a somewhat smaller scale, because the area of the chamber employed would not otherwise have given room for the system, the enormous disc and the four satellites of Jupiter.  The difference between 400 and 360 millions of miles’ distance is, of course, wholly unimportant; but the definition and enlargement were such that the image was perfect, and the details minute and distinct, beyond anything that Earthly observation had led me to conceive as possible.  The satellites were no longer mere points or tiny discs, but distinct moons, with surfaces marked like that of our own satellite, though far less mountainous and broken, and, as it seemed to me, possessing a distinct atmosphere.  I am not sure that there is not a visible difference of brightness among them, not due to their size but to some difference in the reflecting power of their surfaces, since the distance
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Across the Zodiac from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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