The object of this book is to give an account of the science of Astronomy, as it is known at the present day, in a manner acceptable to the general reader.
e distance beyond the solar system, and scattered irregularly through the depth of space, lie the stars. The two first-mentioned members of the solar system, Mercury and Venus, are known as the Inferior Planets; and in their courses about the sun, they always keep well inside the path along which our earth moves. The remaining members (exclusive of the earth) are called Superior Planets, and their paths lie all outside that of the earth.
[Illustration: FIG. 2.--The Copernican theory of the Solar System.]
The five planets, Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn, have been known from all antiquity. Nothing then can bring home to us more strongly the immense advance which has taken place in astronomy during modern times than the fact that it is only 127 years since observation of the skies first added a planet to that time-honoured number. It was indeed on the 13th of March 1781, while engaged in observing the constellation of the Twins, that the justly famous Sir William Herschel caught sight o
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