1867 Astronomy Text Book -- The Moon

Oct 23, 2019
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Elements of Astronomy

Heny Kiddle, A. M.

177. That part of the moon’s surface which is turned toward the earth has been very carefully observed, and all the objects upon it delineated upon maps or charts, so as to show their exact forms and relative positions. This branch of astronomical science is called SELENOGRAPHY.

a. This department of the astronomer’s labors had been prosecuted with extraordinary zeal and industry by the Prussian astronomers, Beer and Madler. Their chart, measuring 37 inches in diameter, exhibits the lunar surface with the most astonishing minuteness and accuracy. Other charts have also been constructed; and the moon is still receiving a very scrutinizing survey by a number of eminent astronomers, each taking a separate belt or zone, with the object of arriving at still greater minuteness of delineation.

178. The moon’s disc when view through a telescope presents a diversified appearance of dusky and bright spots; the latter being evidently elevate portions of the surface, and the former, plains or valleys.

a. The dusky patches were once thought to be seas, and they still retain these names in selenography, although without any such literal meaning; thus, one is called Mare Tranquillitatis, or Sea of Tranquility; another Mare Nectaris, Sea of Nectar, etc.

b. Lunar Mountains – Mountains on the moons surface are indicated by the bright spots that appear scattered over the disc, and beyond the terminator, or line that separates the dark from the illuminated part of the disc, and by the shadows cast upon the surface of the moon when the sun shines obliquely upon these elevations.

c. These mountains are of various forms, including with others, the following; --

1. Rugged and precipitous ranges, many of a circular form, enclosing great plains, called on this account, “Bulwark Plains,” from 40 to 120 miles in diameter; 2. Lofty mountains, of a circular form, enclosing an area from 10 to 60 miles diameter, resembling the crater of a volcano but of vast size, and sometimes containing in the center one or more lofty peaks; such formations are called Ring Mountains; 3. Smaller cavities, called craters, also enclosing a visible space, and a central mound; and 4. Deep hollows, called holes, showing no enclosed area.

From the Ring Mountains, streaks of light and shade radiate on all sides, spreading to a distance of several hundred miles. These are called radiating streaks. They are attributed by some to the streams of lava which once flowed in all directions from these evidently volcanic mountains. ...

f. The General Physical Condition of the Moon’s Surface, therefore, as far as we can observe it, is characterized by uniform desolation and sterility. Sir John Herschel says, that among the lunar mountains is seen in its greatest perfection, the true volcanic character, as observed in the crater of Mt. Vesuvius and elsewhere, except that the internal depth of these lunar craters is sometimes two or three times as great as the external height, and that they are of vastly greater magnitude. By means of the great telescope of Lord Rosse, the interior of some of these craters is seen to be strewed with huge blocks, and the exterior crossed by deep gullies radiating from the center. No reliable indication of any active volcano has ever been obtained; although, Sir William Herschel, in 1787, asserted that he had seen three lunar volcanoes in actual operation.

g. Are there People in the Moon? – This question has often been discussed, but idly; since no positive evidence can be adduced on one side or the other. The distance of the moon is too great for us to detect any artificial structures, as buildings, walls, roads, etc., if there were any; and certainly, without air or water, no animals such as inhabit our own planet could survive there. But the Almighty Creator can place animals and intelligent beings in any part of the universe, and accommodate them to the peculiar circumstances of their abode; and it would perhaps be strange if He had left even our little satellite without an intelligent witness of His infinite power and beneficence.
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