Across the Zodiac eBook

Percy Greg
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 490 pages of information about Across the Zodiac.
observe that, while on one hand the motion of the vessel was absolutely imperceptible, there was, on the other, no change of position among the stars which could enable me to verify the fact that I was moving, much less suggest it to the senses.  The direction of every recognisable star was the same as on Earth, as it appears the same from the two extremities of the Earth’s orbit, 19 millions of miles apart.  Looking from any one window, I could see no greater space of the heavens than in looking through a similar aperture on Earth.  What was novel and interesting in my stellar prospect was, not merely that I could see those stars north and south which are never visible from the same point on Earth, except in the immediate neighbourhood of the Equator; but that, save on the small space concealed by the Earth’s disc, I could, by moving from window to window, survey the entire heavens, looking at one minute upon the stars surrounding the vernal, and at another, by changing my position, upon those in the neighbourhood of the autumnal equinox.  By little more than a turn of my head I could see in one direction Polaris (alpha Ursae Minoris) with the Great Bear, and in another the Southern Cross, the Ship, and the Centaur.

About 23h. 30m., near the close of the first day, I again inspected the barycrite.  It showed 1/1100 of terrestrial gravity, an incredibly small change from the 1/800 recorded at 19h., since it implied a progress proportionate only to the square root of the difference.  The observation indicated, if the instrument could be trusted, an advance of only 18,000 miles.  It was impossible that the Astronaut had not by this time attained a very much greater speed than 4000 miles an hour, and a greater distance from the Earth than 33 terrestrial radii, or 132,000 miles.  Moreover, the barycrite itself had given at 19h. a distance of 28-1/2 radii, and a speed far greater than that which upon its showing had since been maintained.  Extinguishing the lamp, I found that the Earth’s diameter on the discometer measured 2 deg. 3’ 52” (?).  This represented a gain of some 90,000 miles; much more approximate to that which, judging by calculation, I ought to have accomplished during the last four hours and a half, if my speed approached to that I had estimated.  I inspected the cratometer, which indicated a force as great as that with which I had started,—­a force which should by this time have given me a speed of at least 22,000 miles an hour.  At last the solution of the problem flashed upon me, suggested by the very extravagance of the contradictions.  Not only did the barycrite contradict the discometer and the reckoning but it contradicted itself; since it was impossible that under one continuous impulsation I should have traversed 28-1/2 radii of the Earth in the first eighteen hours and no more than 4-1/2 in the next four and a half hours.  In truth, the barycrite was effected by two separate attractions,—­that of the Earth and that of the Sun, as yet operating almost

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Across the Zodiac from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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