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LECTURES ON ASTRONOMY.
SAN FRANCISCO, Oct. 10, 1854. To PROFESSOR JOHN PHENIX, Esq., San Diego Observatory.
Dear Sir :-Perceiving by perusal of your interesting article on Astronomy, that you have an organ which it is presumed you would like to dispose of, I am instructed by the vestry of the meeting-house on street, to enter into a negotiation with you for its purchase. Please state by return of mail, whether or no the organ is for sale ; if so, the price, and if it is in good repair, and plays serious tunes.
Very truly yours,
A. SLEEK STIGGINS, Ruling Elder and Agent for the sale of Stiggins' Elder Blow Tea.
PROF. PHENIX has the honor to acknowledge the receipt of Mr. Stiggins' polite communication, and regrets to inform him that the organ alluded to has been disposed of to a member of the Turn-verein Association. Owing to some
fatuity or crookedness of mind," on the part of the manufacturer, the organ never could be made to play but one tune, “ The Low Backed Car," which Prof. Phoenix considers a most sad and plaintive melody, calculated to fill the mind with serious and melancholy emotions. Prof. P. takes occasion to inform Mr. S., that he has a bass trombone in his possession, which, with a double convex lens fitted in the mouth-piece, he has used in his observations on the stars. This instrument will be for sale at the conclusion of this course of lectures, and if adapted to Mr. Stiggins' purpose, is very much at his service.
LECTURES ON ASTRONOMY-PART II.
This planet may be easily recognized by its bright, ruddy appearance, and its steady light. It resembles in size and color the stars Arcturus, in Boötes, and Antares, in Scorpio; bat, as it is not like them, continually winking, we may consider it, in some respects, a body of superior gravity. Our readers will be pleased to learn that Mars is an oblate spheroid, with a diameter of 4,222 miles. It is seven times smaller than the Earth; its day is forty-four minutes longer than ours, and its year is equal to twenty-two and a half of our months. It receives from the sun only one half as much light and heat as the Earth, and has no moon; which, in some respects, may be considered a blessing, as the poets of Mars cannot be eternally writing sonnets on that subject. Mars takes its name from the God of War, who was considered the patron of soldiers, usually termed sons of Mars, though it was well remarked by some philosopher, that they are generally sons of pa's also. Macauley, however, in his severe review of “ Hanson's Life of the Rev Eleazer Williams,” remarks with great originality, that “It is a wise child that knows its own father."
Mars is also the tutelary divinity of Fillibusters, and we are informed by several of the late troops of the late President William Walker, that this planet was of great use in guiding that potentate during his late nocturnal rambles through the late Republic of Sonora. The ruddy appearance of Mars is not attributed to his former bad habits, but to the great height of his atmosphere, which must be very favorable to the wronauts of that region, where, doubtless, ballooning is the principal method of locomotion. Upon the whole, Mars is but a cold and ill-conditioned planet, and if, as some persons believe, the souls of deceased soldiers are sent thither, there can be little inducement to die in service, unless, indeed, larger supplies of commissary whiskey and tobacco are to be found there than the present telescopic ob. servations would lead us to believe.
This magnificent planet is the largest body, excepting the Sun, in the Solar System. “It may be readily distinguished from the fixed stars by its peculiar splendor and magnitude, appearing to the unclothed eye, almost as resplendent as Venus, although it is more than seven times her distance from the Sun." Its day is but nine hours, fiftyfive minutes and fifty seconds; but it has rather a lengthy year, equivalent to nearly twelve years of our time. It is about thirteen hundred times larger than the Earth.
In consequence of the rapid movement of Jupiter upon his axis, his form is that of an oblate spheroid, very considerably flattened at its poles, and the immense centrifugal force resulting from this movement (26,554 miles per hour), would, undoubtedly, have long since caused him to fly asunder, were it not for a wise provision of nature, which has caused enormous belts or hoops, to encircle his entire surface.
These hoops, usually termed belts, are plainly visible through the telescope. They are eight in number, and are supposed to be made of gutta percha, with an outer edge of No. 1 boiler iron. Owing to the great distance of Jupiter from the Sun, he receives but one twenty-seventh part of the light and heat that we do from that body. To preserve the great balance of Nature, it is therefore probable, that the whales of Jupiter are twenty-seven times larger than ours, and that twenty-seven times as much cord-wood is cut on that planet as on the Earth.
The axis of Jupiter is perpendicular to the plane of its orbit;
hence its climate has no variation of seasons in the same latitude. It has four moons, three of which may be readily discerned with an ordinary spy-glass. By observation on the eclipses of these satellites, the velocity of light has been measured, and we find that light is precisely eight minutes and thirteen seconds in coming to us from the Sun. According to the poet,“ the light of other days” has a considerably slow motion. Jupiter, in the Heathen Mythology, was the King of the Gods. As there can be no doubt that, with the progress of time, advancement in liberal ideas, and a knowledge of the immortal principles of democracy, has obtained among these divinities, it is probable that he has long since been deposed, and his kingdom converted into a republic, over whose destinies, according to the well-known principles of availability, some one-eyed Cyclops, unknown to fame, has probably been elected to preside. His representative will, however, always remain King of the Planets, while such things as kings exist; after which he will become their undisputed president. Jupiter is the patron of Monarchs, Presidents and Senators. It is doubtful, however, whether he pays much attention to State Senators, or even continues his patronage to him of the Congressional body who fails to be re-elected, although bent on being notorious, he may continue to vociferate that he “knows a hawk from a hand-saw," and was “not educated at West Pint."