Side-Lights on Astronomy and Kindred Fields of Popular Science

Саймон Ньюком Side-Lights on Astronomy and Kindred Fields of Popular Science
Рік видання:
2003 р.
Project Gutenberg
Саймон Ньюком
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The reader already knows what the solar system is: an immense central body, the sun, with a number of planets revolving round it at various distances. On one of these planets we dwell. Vast, indeed, are the distances of the planets when measured by our terrestrial standards. A cannon-ball fired from the earth to celebrate the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and continuing its course ever since with a velocity of eighteen hundred feet per second, would not yet be half-way to the orbit of Neptune, the outer planet. And yet the thousands of stars which stud the heavens are at distances so much greater than that of Neptune that our solar system is like a little colony, separated from the rest of the universe by an ocean of void space almost immeasurable in extent. The orbit of the earth round the sun is of such size that a railway train running sixty miles an hour, with never a stop, would take about three hundred and fifty years to cross it. Represent this orbit by a lady's finger-ring. Then the nearest fixed star will be about a mile and a half away; the next more than two miles; a few more from three to twenty miles; the great body at scores or hundreds of miles. Imagine the stars thus scattered from the Atlantic to the Mississippi, and keep this little finger-ring in mind as the orbit of the earth, and one may have some idea of the extent of the universe.

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