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Zones. Zones are the divisions of the earth's surface, formed by the tropics and polar circles. There are five zones ; one torrid, two temperate, and two frigid zones.
The torrid zone is that part of the earth's surface included bea tween the two tropics. The equator passes through the middle of this zone. The temperate zones are included between the tropics and the polar circles ; and the frigid zones, between the polar circles and the poles.
In every part of the torrid zone the sun is vertical, or directly over the heads of the inhabitants, twice every year, and the days and nights are always nearly equal.
In the temperate zones the sun is never vertical, but rises and sets every 24 hours. The days and nights are unequal, and their inequality increases as you approach the poles.
In the frigid zones, the sun never sets for a certain number of days in summer, and never rises for an equal number in winter. At the poles, the sun is 6 months above, and 6 months below the horizon ; of course he rises only once in a year.
The inhabitants of the different zones may be distinguished by the direction in which their shadows fall at noon.-Those who inhabit the torrid zone, have their shadows one part of the year north, and the rest of the year south of them at noon day ; but when the sun is vertical, which is twice every year, they have no shadow at noon.
In the temperate zones the shadows at noon always fall one way; in the northern temperate zone they always fall towards the north, and in the southern always towards the south.
At the poles, the sun for six months moves round without setting, and the shadows are in every 24 hours of that period, successively cast towards every point of the horizon.
Climates. The word climate has two significations, one geographical and the other astronomical. In common language, the word is used to denote the difference in the seasons and the temperature of the air. When two places differ in these respects, they are said to be in different climates.
In an astronomical sense, a climate is a tract of the earth's surface, included between the equator and a parallel of latitude, or between two parallels, of such a breadth, that the length of the day in one is half an hour longer than in the other. Within the polar circles, however, the breadth of a climate is such, that the length of the longest day, or the longest time of the sun's continuance above the horizon without setting, is a month longer ia one parallel, as you proceed towards the elevated pole, than in the other.
There are 30 climates between the equator and either pole. In the first 24, between the equator and either polar circle, the period of increase for every climate is half an hour. In the other six, between either polar circle and its pole, the period of increase for each climate is a month.
Latitude. The latitude of a place is its distance from the equator, reckoned in degrees, &c. north or south, on the meridian. The
greatest latitude is that of the poles, which are 90 degrees distant from the equator. If the place be situated between the equator and the north pole, it is said to be in north latitude ; if it lie between the equator and the south pole, it is in south latitude. A parallel of latitude is any small circle parallel with the equator.
The elevation of the pole above the horizon is always equal to the latitude of the place ; for to a person situated at the equator, both poles will rest in the horizon. If you travel one, two, or more degrees north, the north pole will rise one, two, or more degrees, and will keep pace with your distance from the equator.
The inhabitants of the earth are sometimes distinguished, according to the several meridians and parallels under which they live.
1. Those who live in the same latitude, and same hemisphere, but under opposite meridians.—Their seasons are the same, as also the length of their days and nights; but when it is mid-day with one, it is midnight with the other.
2. Those who live in the same latitude, and under the same meridian, but in opposite hemispheres. These have noon and midnight at the same time; but the longest day with the one is the shortest with the other; consequently, when it is midsummer with one, it is midwinter with the other.
3. Those who live in the same latitude, but in opposite hemispheres, and under opposite meridians. These are called Antipodes. When it is mid-day with one it is midnight with the other ; the longest day with one is the shortest with the other; and consequently, when it is midsummer with the one, it is midwinter with the other.
Longitude. Every place on the surface of the earth has its meridian. The longitude of a place is the distance of its meridian from some other fixed meridian, measured on the equator. Longitude is either east or west. All places east of the fixed or first meridian are in east longitude ; all west, in west longitude.
Opposition. A body is in opposition with the sun, when the earth is directly between it and the sun.
Conjunction. A body is in conjunction with the sun, when they are both in a straight line with the earth, on the same side of it. If the body is between the earth and the sun, it is said to be in its inferior conjunction ; but when the sun is between it and the earth, the body is said to be in its superior conjunction,
Quadrature. A body is in quadrature, when a line drawn from the centre of the body to the centre of the earth, makes a right angle with a line, drawn from the centre of the earth to the centre of the sun.
Elongation. The greatest elongation of a heavenly body is its greatest apparent distance from the sun.
Eccentricity. The eccentricity of the orbit of a planet is the distance from the sun to the centre of the orbit; the sun not being in the centre, but in one of the soci.
Aphelion. A planet is in its aphelion, when it is farthest from the sun.
Perihelion. The perihelion is that point in the orbit of a planet, which is nearest to the sun.
A Digit is a twelfth part of the diameter of the sun or moon.
Planets are bodies, which revolve about the sun in orbits nearly circular, whose planes make a very small angle with the plane of the ecliptic ; and with a motion according to the order of the signs of the ecliptic, or from west to east.
Satellites or moons, are bodies revolving round the planets, which are called their primaries ; and, in company with them, round the sun.
Asteroids are very small bodies, revolving round the sun, in orbits making larger angles with the plane of the ecliptic, and with motions either direct, i. e. from west to east; or retrograde, i. e. from east to west.
Comets are bodies revolving about the sun in extremely elliptical orbits; whose planes may make any angle with the ecliptic, and 'whose motions are either direct or retrograde.
THE SOLAR SYSTEM.
The system of heavenly bodies, to which the earth belongs, is composed of the Sun, the Planets, the Satellites, the Asteroids, and the Comets.
The Sun, the most glorious of the heavenly luminaries, is the source of light, and heat to all the bodies which revolve around
The pumber of Planets is seven ; the names of which according to their nearness to the sun, are Mercury, Venus, the Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Herschel. The two first are called inferior planets; the four last, superior.
The number of Satellites is eighteen. The earth has one ; Jupiter four; Saturn seven ; Herschel six. These revolve round their respective primaries, and accompany them in their annual revolutions round the sun.
The number of Asteroids at present known is four. Their orbits lie between those of Mars and Jupiter, Their names, according to their nearness to the sun, are Ceres, Pallas, Juno, and Vesta.
The number of Comets belonging to our system is not yet ascertained.
Astronomers have, at different periods, supposed the principal bodies, which compose the solar system, arranged in different orders. Such a supposed arrangement is called a System of the world. The most distinguished of these systems are the Ptolemaic, the Tychonic, and the Copernican.
The PTOLEMAIC SYSTEM is so called from Claudius Ptolemy, a celebrated astronomer of Pelusium in Egypt; not because he was the author of it, but because he adopted and endeavored to support it. According to this hypothesis, the earth is immoveably fixed in the centre of the universe, and all the other bodies revolve round it from east to west in the space of twenty-four hours, at distances, which increase in the order, in which they are here named,
viz. the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, and the fixed stars. The sun and planets were supposed to be firmly set in separate crystalline spheres, inclosed by a concave one, containing the fixed stars, which would of course be all equally distant from the earth. Above this starry sphere were imagined to be the two crystalline spheres, the primum mobile, communicating motion to all the interior spheres; and, finally, the empyrean heaven or heaven of heavens, to which a cubic form was attributed. Beside the above motion, performed in the course of twenty-four hours, the sun and planets were supposed to revolve about the earth in certain stated or periodical times, agreeably to their annual appearances.
The phenomena to be explained by this system are inconsistent with it, and show its absurdity in a very satisfactory manner.
The TYCHONIC or BRAHEAN SYSTEM was invented by Tycho Brahe, a nobleman of Denmark. With Ptolemy he supposed the earth to be at rest in the centre of the universe, and the moon, the sun, planets, and fixed stars, to revolve about it in twenty-four hours. He also supposed that these bodies had an annual motion around the earth; that the moon's orbit was nearest to the earth ; then the sun's ; and that Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, revolved about the sun as their centre, and accompanied it as their primary in its annual revolution round the earth. As he denied the earth's diurnal rotation on its axis, he was obliged to admit one of the most gross absurdities of the Ptolemaic hypothesis, that is, the revolution of the whole universe, to its farthest visible limits, about the earth's axis in the space of a day, produced by the primum mobile. Some of his followers, however, varied from his system so far as to ascribe this apparent diurnal motion of the heavens to a real rotation of the earth on its axis, and were therefore called Semi-Tychonics.
The COPERNICAN System is so called from Copernicus, a native of Thorn in Royal Prussia, and is the true SOLAR SYSTEM. It had been taught by some of the Pythagorean philosophers, but was nearly lost, when Copernicus undertook to restore it, and published new and demonstrative arguments in its favour. It supposes the sun to be in the centre of the system, and all the planets to move round the sun in the order already mentioned. These, together with the satellites, asteroids, and comets form the constitu. ent parts of the Solar System.
This supposition readily solves all the appearances observable in the motion of the planets, and also agrees with the strictest philosopbical and mathematical reasoning.
All the planets are opaque and spherical bodies, and receive their light from the sun. Their orbits are not circular, but elliptical. Hence, in their revolutions, they are sometimes nearer to, and sometimes farther from, that luminary. The influence of the son is the cause of the motions of the planets; and this influence increases as their distance from the sun decreases. Hence also we see the reason why the planets move faster, as they approach nearer to the sun, and slower as they recede from it.
If a right line, called by some the vector radius, be drawn from the sun through any planet, and supposed to revolve round the sun with the planet, this line will describe, or pass over, every part of the plane of the orbit; so that the vector radius may be said to describe the area of the orbit.
In the solar system are observed two principal laws, which reg. ulate the motions of the planets. These laws are the following:
1 " The planets describe equal areas in equal times." That is, the vector radius, in equal portions of time, describes equal areas or portions of the space, contained within the planet's orbit.
2. “ The squares of the periodical times of the planets are as the cubes of their mean distances from the sun.? That is, as the square of the time, which any planet takes to describe its orbit, is to the square of the time, taken by any other planet to describe its orbit; so is the cube of the mean distance of the former from the sun to the cube of the mean distance of the latter from the sun.
These laws, together with the facts that the orbits of the planets are elliptical, and that they have the sun in a common focus, were discovered by Kepler, a distinguished astronomer, who flourished about the beginning of the seventeenth century, and who deduced them from a multitude of observations; but the first, who shewed the reason of these laws, was the great Sir Isaac Newton.
By the second law the relative distances of the planets from the sun are known; and were the real distance of any one of them determined, the real distance of all the others would be obtained. By the transits of Venus over the sun in 1761 and 1769, we now know the real distances of the planets from the sun much better than before : these, together with other necessary particulars for forming a competent idea of the solar system, are exhibited in Table 1.
The limits to which we are confined will not admit of our introducing the usual proofs to establish the Copernican system.
The Sun. The Sun is the centre of the system, and is immensely larger tlian all the other bodies wbich compose it. Its diameter is 883,246 miles, and its density (that of the earth being 1) is nearly . It weighs 333,928 times as much as the earth, and is 1,380,000 times as large. It appears from calculation, that a body weigbing 1 pound on the earth, would weigh 27.7 pounds on the Sun. It revolves, on its axis, in 25 days, 14 hours, 8 minutes; and in its orbit, in the same time, around the common centre of gravity of the system. Its revolution in its orbit, as is that of all the planets, is from west to east. The plane of its orbit is not coincident with that of any of the planets ; but is nearest to coincidence with the orbit of Venus, The axis of the sun makes an angle of about 824 degrees with the plane of the earth's orbit. The sun, though to the naked eye it appears so extremely bright ; yet, with a telescope of but very small powers, is discovered to have dark spots on its surface. These are also very various in their magnitudes. That which appeared in 1779, was more than 31,000 miles in diameter, and was visible to the naked eye. The sun has a revolution