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THE CENTRAL SUN.

EVER since BRADLEY's time (the middle of the last century) the conviction has been growing upon the minds of astronomers that the so-called fixed stars, together with our sun, are by no means really stationary stars, but that they all have a proper and real motion of their own.

The bold and wide-spread creations of poetic genius, in regard to a vast and all-controlling central sun, which enchained the millions of other suns to itself

, and caused them to revolve around it in unswerving obedience, through the might of its preponderating gravity,* seemed in this grand discovery to have attained a scientific basis. But there was needed only a closer investigation of the proper motion of the fixed stars, to show how inadmissible this view was, however confidently it had obtraded itself upon the world.

Of all the fixed stars, none seemed to have soch just claims to this high and sovereign prerogative in the universe, as Sirius, a suo surpassing all others in brilliancy. “But ARGELANDER bas well remarked that Sirius cannot be the central sphere, since it itself has a proper and very observable motion through space. . . . If there exists anywhere, visible or invisible, one grand central body, out-balancing and controlling all others through a preponderance of gravity, the most rapid general movement must take place in that region of the body. And as we behold fixed stars in all directions, it is clear that, in some one point, the whirl of movements must be most conspicuous, and from there the rate of motion suffer a constant decrease. But nowhere in the heavens is such a point to be found no one of the stars of the first magnitude fulfils the condition here imposed."

These and similar considerations led Maedler to the final resolt, “that no such single, preponderating central mass is to be looked for in the starry heavens, as there is none such in existen ce."

In this state of affairs, astronomers inclined to the view, “that the movements noticed in connection with special stars, were occasioned merely, or chiefly, by the mutual influences of the stars in closest procimity to each other." But still this view could not be made to account for the data supplied by observation and calculation.

It was left to the deep sagacity and untiring diligence of MAEDLER, after six years' uninterrupted investigation and thorough-going examination and comparison of all previous data as to the progressive movements of the fixed stars in the heavens, to arrive at a result no less simple than surprising, which promises at length to explain to as the mysterious movements in the heavens of the fixed stars, and the wonderful harmony in the construction of the universe, or at least to point out the way to such a result. *

* The occasion of this fansiful supposition was furnished by the attempt to transfer the relations and arrangements of our solar system bodily into the regions of the fixed stars, of which we shall say more hereafter. Since moons hore revolved round planets, and planete with these about the sun, it was thought that all suns, in like manner, must be moving round a vast central body of equally preponderating gravity,

If the assumed centre of the world of the fixed stars, to which all their movements are to be referred, cannot be a body controlling all others by the might of its preponderating gravity, it by no means follows that no common centre exists, around which stars and systems of Milky Ways revolve. Though it be not the amazing gravitating force of one huge central body that induces the movements of all the stars, it may doubt. less be the gravitating influence of one star upon another, and of all upon all, which causes the whole to revolve about a common central point; and this centre may just as well be assumed to be an empty space as one filled by a body, which body, too, might be one of the smallest dimensions. For, as each body of the system of our world is attracted by all the others belonging to the same system, it is not conceivable that the whole should move with respect to any particolar member of the system, but rather that it should take a course which would satisfy all alike. Thus there would necessarily arise a common movement of all about a common centre (be that an empty space, or filled with a body), and the position of that centre would depend upon the original disposition and arrangement of the stellar worlds.

If it be true that the countless stars of our system suspended in space, affect each other in inverse proportion to the square of their distance, according to the common and general law of gravity ; if, further, these countless attractive forces of all upon all resolve themselves into a harmonious movement, about a common centre-just as a thousand different tones unite to form one grand and swelling accord—then is the case jast the reverse of that which takes place in the movements of our solar system. Here we behold a huge central sphere, out-balancing 700 times the united weight of all the other bodies of the system, and excluding the possibility of a general and harmonious movement about a common empty space or centre; here we behold the several bodies composing the system, led like vassals round the all-controlling san, these carried along with a more rapid movement as they approach their lord, those at a distance moving more or less deliberately, according to the increase or decrease of solar attraction. But there, on the other hand, the case must be reversed ; with an increase of distance from the empty central space there must be an increase of movement also, so that the time of

* It is indeed true that many of the leading astronomers have thus far refrained from direct assent to the bypothesis of MAEDLER; and a few have been free to express their great doubts as to its correctness, Lamont, however, expresses himself in favor of it. Alex. von HUMBOLDT withholds his opinion. But G. H. von SCHUBERT, on the other hand, bas eagerly laid hold of Maedler's idea, and incorporated it in his ingenious work, Das Weltgebaude. It is true, as we readily admit, that Maedler's grounds are still defective, and his view far from boing incontestably established as yet. In order to arrive at 8 result in all respects conclusive, there is demanded the continual observation of centuries

, and in connection with a much larger pumber of stars than has heretofore been the case. But the care and close scrutiny with which he received the observations of his predeces. sors, as well as increased them by his own efforts, and also the harmonious result obtained by a combination of the two, seem to lend to the conclusions of the sagacious and untiring astronomer the character of great probability, and warrant the hope that they will deriva new support from future observations. At all ovents, he has the merit of having given to astronomical investigation a new and powerful impulse, and of having marked out a path for it, the following of which, even though opposite results should be obtained, will sig. nally advance the great problem of the beayens towards its final solution.

If we

revolution must, in all the fixed stars, be about the same. suppose, for example, a certain number of concentric rings to be formed by the substance of the earth, from the equator to the earth’s centre, it is plain that the atoms composing the rings nearest the centre must have a slower, and those of the more distant rings a more rapid movement, about the common centre.

If now these be indeed the laws according to which the movements of our stellar worlds come to pass, it is clear that stars which are diametri. cally opposed to each other, must have opposite movements. As, in a rotating wheel, the spokes of one side have a motion from right to left, and those of the other a motion from left to right--80 also in the great wheel of the fixed stars, whose circumference is represented by the Milky Way, the stars of one side must proceed from north to west, and those of the other from south to east; and of all known means this law, next to the one above-mentioned that refers the more rapid motion to the greater distance from the grand centre (and the reverse), is best calculated to point out to us the central point for which we are seeking--if there be any such in existence-to which the movements of the stars are to be referred. Further investigation may have something to go upon if it can be determined, with reasonable accuracy, in what direction the supposed centre lies, since the dynamic centre of the system of the fixed stars cannot, in all probability, vary much from the mathematical centre of the same. Just at this point, the two-fold eccentric position of our sun comes to our aid. We have already learned that a point lying nearer the constellation of the Scorpion than any other part of the Milky Way, and on the side of the autumnal equinox, marks the position of our sun in relation to the central point. Consequently, in or. der from the position we hold to arrive at this central point, the eye must be directed to the opposite side of the heavens, and in the direction of a line leading from the region of the vernal equinoctial point to the Milky Way about the constellation Taurus."

MAEDLER at length, after the most careful and thorough measurements, comparisons and calculations, with the use of all the data furnished by previous investigators,* arrived at this result, which fully harmonizes both with these data and the laws above mentioned—that the long sought for point lies in the beautiful and brilliant constellation of the Pleiades (or seven stars), and probably, too, near by or in the brightest star of this group, Alcyone.

" I hence regard," he says, at the close of his investigations, "the Pleiades as the central group of the whole system of fixed stars, even to its outer limits, marked by the Milky Way, and Alcyone that star, of all those composing the group, which is favored by most of the probabilities as being the true central sun." But at the same time he remarks that, in consequence of a change in the constellations, in the course of ages, the centre of gravity belonging to the system of fixed stars may pass from Alcyone for awbile, and perhaps to some neighboring

* A careful catalogue of 3222 star-positions was left behind by Bradley, Ronewed measurements of the same stars-after the interval of almost a whole century-must go far towards determining their motion. Maedler applied this in the cases of more than 800 stars wbich seemed specially to serve his object. Also, Bessel's manifold and highly care. ful observations in regard to 73 stars of the Pleiades, 11 of which had been before closely scrutinized by Bradley, wore very opportune and serviceable.

star. *

It is clear, from the foregoing, that neither the group of the Pleiades nor the star Alcyone holds such a conspicuous position in the system of worlds, from the possession of a higher essential dignity than the other stars—that the ground of this their distinguished position does not lie in themselves, in their nature and individuality, but merely in their accidental situation, if the expression may be allowed. And, as the question here is not in regard to a body, but to a place in the universe, whether that place be occupied by a body or not, the fond application of the term central sun to Alcyone, by the discoverer, is not exactly a fitting one, and is much exposed to misapprehension by the uninformed.

MAEDLER also made an attempt to determine the parallax of Alcyone, from a sagacious application of facts founded upon the known parallax of the star 61 Cygpi. The result attained was a parallax of 0.006533 seconds, according to which Alcyone is removed from us 31} million times the distance of the sun, a distance requiring 498 years for light to traverse. Our sun, in its course about Alcyone, moves at the rate of 8 geographical miles in a second, and requires 184 millions of years to complete cne revolution.

Notwithstanding the amazing distance to which our sun is removed from the true centre of the system to which it belongs, "we still hold a position,” as SCHUBERT says, " deep within and proportionably near the centre of the vast circle bounded by the rings of the Milky Way as walls of light."

We shall close this discussion by giving Maedler's view of the whole arrangement of the stellar system, as deduced from these his observa. tions and discoveries : The starry girdle of the Milky Way probably consists of two broad concentric rings, which, at their most distant point from us, perspectively coincide, and in most part cover each other --but at their nearest point, on the other hand, form such an angle with each other as to leave an open space where they appear separated. Since now the inner and pretty well defined limits of the Milky Way, indicate that it is separated from the hosts of fixed stars it enclosesthough that separation be not a complete one—and since, on the other hand, in the neighborhood of the Pleiades particularly, a quite observable starless space exists, we may imagine the whole constitution of the system of the fixed stars to be as follows: The centre of this system is marked by a group very rich in stars, closely crowded together, and contains single masses of considerable size. Around this there extends a vast zone, proportionably devoid of stars, having a diameter somewhat over six times that of the central system. This is succeeded by a broad annular stratum, teeming with stars, which is again followed by an interspace containing but few stars, and so on for an indefinite series of starry strata and partially empty zones, until we at last arrive at the two outer rings composing the Milky Way. These vast rings are not equally well developed in all their parts, but exhibit here and there a tendency to resolve themselves into groups and clusters, though they are chiefly made up of isolated and double fixed stars. They are connected, at various points, by starry formations which traverse the empty interspaces, and bind the rings together.

* SCHUBERT says of the Seven Stars: “A group of stars alone in their kind is to be observed in the heavens, not far distant from the verbal equinoctial point-a group which, from the earliest times, has specially attracted the attention of man. This is the cluster called the Pleiades. Alcyone, a star of' comparatively large magnitude, stands there, sarrounded by five others, which may be fairly distinguished by the naked eye. In regard to these six stars, Joan Michel, of England, has shown that they must constitute a physically connected whole, the probabiilties against their close juxtaposition arising from acei. dent, or optical illusion, being in the ratio of 500,000 to 1. The peculiar lustre of this group does not, however, depend merely upon the six stars visible to the naked eye; but also arises from a whole cluster of stars, which are brought into view by means of the tel. escope, As, in the case of the double and multiple stars, a common centre of gravity must exist, so also in this cluster there must be a common point about which they move; and if this be not in Alcyone, very probably it is not far distant from that star. But it is only from the closely-crowded relation of this group, that its point of gravity can derive signif. cance, as the grand centre of the whole astral system. According to the computations of Maedler, all these bodies are collected and compressed into a space not amounting in diameter to four times the distance from our sun to the nearest fised star. It is not the single stars of the group, however, but rather the collected might of the whole, which lends to this cluster the character of a connecting bond or foundation stone, for the whole structure of the heavens.

WASHINGTON'S VIEWS OF DUELING.

It is one of the pleasing indications of a growing refinement in morals and manners, that Dueling has lost in our age much of its imposing lustre, as a chivalrous and dignified custom. The lights of knowledge and religion have unveiled its true character, and revealed it as a barbarous practice, worthy of its gothic origin, and founded in principles as fatal to the peace and stability of the social state, as they are derogatory to the honor and authority of God.

There is, however, delusion enough on the subject still lingering among men, to claim in this connection, a few remarks in illustration of the evil and mischievous nature of the vice.

The divine command, prohibiting the destruction of human life, is violated in various ways, as moralists decide. Among these there are none more justly exposed to the withering imputation, than the one now under consideration. In Daeling, we have all the real constituents of this sin. Where a challenge is given and accepted, in the great majority of instances at least, a design to kill is cherished by both parties. This is evinced as clearly as outward actions can indicate the inward dispositions. It is rendered manifest by every step taken in the honor. able affair, from the selection of deaāly weapons, down to the fatal aim at the seat of life, in the hour of bloody combat. Whatever aggravation arises from deliberate intention, also attends the deed. The challenge is usually given after time has been taken for reflection, and it is accepted under the same circumstances. Can it be said, notwithstanding, that there is no intention to destroy life? What, then, is the inten

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