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A Victorian Scrapbook

A Scrapbook of Newspaper Articles Compiled by George Burgess (1829-1905)

Victorian Science and Nature

A Girdle of Suns

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Transcripts from original newspaper articles: -


A Girdle of SunsCircling the vast and illimitable vault of the starry heavens as with a prodigious ring of subdued light, the “Milky Way” is veritably a strange and striking object when viewed from the peak of some lofty mountain where the pure an rarified atmosphere offers little obstruction to the coruscating rays of quivering light which ever glitter and sparkle from the stellar world around.

Though not, to the unaided eye, exhibiting the wondrous diversities of hue of many of the nearer stars, the various tints of which, from this elevated position, add so much to the glory of the midnight scene – the scarlet-vermilion of Eta in Perseus, the brillian gold-amber of Gamma in Leo, with its near attendant a vivid emerald, the azure blue of Delta in the Serpent, or that beautiful double star in the constellation in the Ship, the one a brilliant rose-pink, the other an ocean-green – Yet the subdued nebulous luminosity of this distant shining ring of blazing suns, all apparently mingled together in one mighty encircling tire-cloud, forcibly impresses the mind with the majesty and immensity of space, and the diminutive minuteness of all things terrestrial.

But when viewed through a powerful telescope this girdled galaxy of stars is a spectacle of infinite grandeur and magnificence. For the entire nebulous array is resolved into myriads of great scintillating suns, apparently so thickly strewn together, though of course countless millions of miles apart (it is fairly established that our sun is one of the starts of the Milky Way), that they appear positively to be almost in contact with each other; millions of vast burning orbs; and still millions upon millions, right back into the remotest depths of the dark, profound abyss on never ending space. And on, on, on, plunged yet deeper and still deeper into the eternal void, blaze these myriads of mighty flaming suns; each sun, doubtless, surrounded with its system of revolving planets; each planet perhaps attended by its light reflecting satellite.

The boundless immensity and overpowering infinity of this sublime array of flashing celestial spheres is so appalling, that a sense of positive and amazed awe must course through the mind of even the most callous beholder as he realises the astounding and stupendous vastness of this endless star filled space.