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gradually contracting from a certain ellipticity to an almost imperceptible line, and again expanding till it resumed its maximum of ellipticity,—the ring being most open when the planet was in 19a of Sagittarius, and 19° of Gemini, and appearing as a line across the disc in 19° of Pisces, and 19° of Virgo. · So remarkable a body in the planetary train, from its dissimilarity to the others, soon excited the vigilance of the astronomers of that period, and left little to reward the research of those of the present day, beyond the task of correcting with their exquisitely constructed instruments, its various dimensions. The following are the micrometrical observations of this planet, made at Dorpat, in May 1828, by Professor Struve, with Fraunhofer's large Refractor:
External diameter of the external ring .... 40".095
It has been remarked, by several accurate astronomers, that the dark space between the orb of Saturn, and the ring, appears greater on the eastern, than on the western side of the planet, and has been supposed by some to be an optical illusion. From the results, however, of very careful measurement, Professor Struve is decidedly of opinion, that the orb is not in the centre of the ring. Both the rings are brighter than the orb, and the outer one brighter than the inner. The thickness of the double ring has been considered as incapable of measurement; - from observations by Schroeter, it is found to be
06.125; it is also supposed that the edge of the ring is of a spherical, or rather spheroidal form. When the ring is in the plane of the eye, its surface is found not to be exactly uniform, sometimes one ansa entirely disappearing, at other times both being observed to be detached from the planet: these irregularities on its surface are considered as necessary for maintaining the ring in equilibrium ; for if a perfectly uniform body, it would yield to the slightest attraction, which might ultimately precipitate it on the surface of the orb.
The appearance of the double ring to the inhabitants of the globe of Saturn, must be inconceivably splendid and magnificent, varying in appearance according to the situation in which it is beheld. From the regions several degrees distant from each pole, the inhabitants cannot possibly see this grand spectacle-being below their horizon. In approaching the latitude of 60 degrees, it must be first seen as a bright segment of a disc, just emerging above the horizon, of the brightness of the morning twilight, only more defined ;-nearer the equator, as a vast luminous arch;—and when contemplated from the middle zone of the planet, a bright band would be observed crossing the zenith, and terminating in the eastern and western points of the horizon. Hence, the glory of the celestial canopy during a Saturnian night must, to that planet, indeed, be far exceeding what we behold from our earth; particularly from those places where the ring can be surveyed in its concave and convex form, stretching across the firmament, and apparently resting on the verge of the horizon: above and beneath the arch, the same constellations which ornament our sky would be observed shining with subdued splendour; -wbile, at different distances and positions without the ring would be seen, gliding swiftly, the satellites of Saturn, either rising, setting, or on the meridian; others entering into the shadow of the orb, or emerging from it; each exhibiting every variety of phase from the delicate crescent, to the semi-lunar-from a gibbous to a full-orbed brightness.
Does such beauty and design beam upon a desert, and shed its radiance upon realms of solitude and silence,----to be witnessed by no intellectual eye in those vast regions, and seen only in miniature by a few individuals from this remote and comparatively minute earth? Doubtless from such a glorious abode, the voice of gratitude and adoration continually ascends to the great Creator for such a resplendent retinue, by which its distance from the Sun is so amply compensated.
“But contemplation rests her weary wings
NEBULA IN ORION. The splendid nebula in the sword handle of Orion, is now in a favorable position for telescopic observation. Time's Telescope of last year, contains a minute description of this mysterious luminous appearance; to which may be added, the singular discovery of a fifth star, (near the “ cluster of four arranged in the form of a trapezium,”) which after continuing some time distinct, gradually diminished in brightness, until scarcely perceptible. It is supposed to be either a new star, or a variable one of long period.
“ Stars, whose beams have never reached our world,
The Naturalist's Diary.
For February, 1830.
When winter comes, with purpled nose and hands,
How tender are the cares of Providence for us during the winter! He has given to man that industry of which they have so much need, to fortify themselves against the attacks of cold and frost. Their inventive mind has made them find the means of procuring for themselves, an artificial heat. And is it not evident, that Divine Wisdom has foreseen the wants incident to different climates, when he has placed in them, animals that could live nowhere else?
Though we are obliged to suspend the labours of the field, there are various other ways in which we may be usefully employed; and we are never doomed to a state of idleness and inaction. The repose of nature invites us to look for resources in our own minds; and though our imagination cannot now be warmed with the beauties of nature in their spring and summer robes, our mind, from the present change in nature, may be led to reflect upon the instability of all earthly things, and prepare to enter into that eternity to which it is hastening, and devote itself with full sincerity to the service of that Supreme Being who never changed, but is ever the same, merciful, just, and omnipotent.
All that we love and feel on Nature's face
That flow along in dying music,--leaves
Robert Montgomery. There are few attractions for the Naturalist this month: still, if the weather is not severe, some opening buds, and peeping flowers may be found on sheltered spots. Among the few flowers of this season, one of the sweetest is
THE NIGHTINGALE FLOWER.
Unto thy bard an emblem thou shouldst be;
Is closed like thee.
Silence and solitude its depth unseal ;
Thy life reveal.
To give imagination holier scope,
A loftier hope !
Sheds round its perfume at the close of day,
A star-like ray ;-
When the grave's shadows are around me cast,
Bright at the last ;
Of thy meek flower, the memory of my name.
Or purer fame?
Would wear no gloom appaling to the sight,
Death's wintry night.
Of an eternal, though a sunless day,