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We know at present of eighteen primaries, viz : Mercury Venus, the Earth, Mars, Flora, Vesta, Iris, Metis, Hebe, Astrea, Juno, Ceres, Pallas, Hygeia, Jupiter, Saturn, Herschel, Neptune, and another, yet unnamed. There are distributed among these, nineteen secondaries, all of which, except our Moon, are invisible to the naked eye.
We shall now proceed to consider, separately, the different bodies composing the Solar System, and to make known what little information, comparatively speaking, science has collected regarding them. And, first in order, as in place, we come to
This glorious orb may be seen almost any clear day, by looking intently in its direction, through a piece of smoked glass. Through this medium it appears about the size of a large orange, and of much the same color. It is, however, somewhat larger, being, in fact 887,000 miles in diameter, and containing a volume of matter equal to fourteen hundred thousand globes of the size of the Earth, which is certainly a matter of no small importance. Through the telescope it appears like an enormous globe of fire, with many spots upon its surface, which, unlike those of the leopard, are continually changing. These spots were first discovered by a gentleman named Galileo, in the year 1611. Though the Sun is usually termed and considered the luminary of day, it may not be uninteresting to our readers to know that it certainly has been seen in the night. A scientific friend of ours from New England (Mr. R. W. Emerson) while traveling through the northern part of Norway, with a cargo of tinware, on the 21st of June, 1836, distinctly saw the Sun in all its majesty, shining at midnight !-in fact, shining all night! Emerson is not what you would call a superstitious man, by any means—but, he left! Since that time many persons have observed its nocturnal appearance in that part of the country, at the same time of the year. This phenomenon has never been witnessed in the latitude of San Diego, however, and it is very improbable that it ever will be. Sacred history informs us that a distinguished military man, named Joshua, once caused the Sun to “stand still;" how he did it, is not mentioned. There can, of course, be no doubt of the fact, that he arrested its progress, and possibly caused it to "stand still;"> --but translators are not always perfectly accurate, and we are inclined to the opinion that it might have wiggled a very little, when Joshua was not looking directly at it. The statement, however, does not appear so very incredible, when we reflect that seafaring men are in the habit of actually bringing the Sun down to the horizon every day at 12 Meridian. This they effect by means of a tool made of brass, glass and silver, called a sextant. The composition of the Sun has long been a matter of dispute.
By close and accurate observation with an excellent operaglass, we have arrived at the conclusion that its entire surface is covered with water to a very great depth; which water, being composed by a process known at present only to the Creator of the Universe and Mr. Paine of Worcester, Massachusetts, generates carburetted hydrogen gas, which, being inflamed, surrounds the entire body with an ocean of fire, from which we, and the other planets, receive our light and heat. The spots upon its surface are glimpses of water, obtained through the fire; and we call the attention of our old friend and former schoolmate, Mr. Agassiz, to this fact; así by closely observing one of these spots with a strong refracting telescope, he may discover a new species of fish, with little fishes inside of them. It is possible that the Sun may burn out after awhile, which would leave this world in a state of darkness quite uncomfortable to contemplate; but even under these circumstances it is pleasant to reflect, that courting and love-making would probably increase to an indefinite extent, and that many persons would make large fortunes by the sudden rise in value of coal, wood, candles, and gas, which would go to illustrate the truth of the old proverb, “It's an ill wind that blows nobody any good.”
Upon the whole, the Sun is a glorious creation; pleasing to gaže upon (through smoked glass), elevating to think upon, and exceedingly comfortable to every created being on a cold day; it is the largest, the brightest, and may be considered by far the most magnificent object in the celestial sphere; though with all these attributes it must be confessed that it is occasionally entirely eclipsed by the moon.
We shall now proceed to the consideration of the several planets.
This planet, with the exception of the asteroids, is the smallest of the system. It is the nearest to the Sun, and, in consequence, cannot be seen (on account of the Sun's superior light), except at its greatest eastern and western elongations, which occur in March and April, August and September, when it may be seen for a short time immediately after sunset and shortly before sunrise. It then appears like a star of the first magnitude, having a white twinkling light, and resembling somewhat the star Regulus in the constellation Leo. The day in Mercury is about ten minutes longer than ours, its year is about equal to three of our months. It receives six and a half times as much heat from the Sun as we do; from which we conclude that the climate must be Very similar to that of Fort Yuma, on the Colorado River. The difficulty of communication with Mercury will probably prevent its ever being selected as a military post; though it possesses many advantages for that purpose, being extremely inaccessible, inconvenient, and, doubtless, singularly uncomfortable. It receives its name from the God, Mercury, in the Heathen Mythology, who is the patron and tutelary Divinity of San Diego County.
This beautiful planet may be seen either a little after sunset, or shortly before sunrise, according as it becomes the morning or the evening star, but never departing quite 48° from the Sun. Its day is about twenty-five minutes shorter than ours; its year seven and half months or thirtytwo weeks. The diameter of Venus is 7,700 miles, and she receives from the Sun thrice as much light and heat as the Earth.
An old Dutchman named Schroeter spent more than ten years in observations on this planet, and finally discovered a mountain on it twenty-two miles in height, but he never could discover any thing on the mountain, not even a mouse, and finally died about as wise as when he commenced his studies.
Venus, in Mythology, was a Goddess of singular beauty, who became the wife of Vulcan, the blacksmith, and we regret to add, behaved in the most immoral manner after her marriage. The celebrated case of Vulcan vs. Mars, and the consequent scandal, is probably still fresh in the minds of our readers. By a large portion of society, however, she was considered an ill-used and persecuted lady, against whose high tone of morals, and strictly virtuous conduct not a shadow of suspicion could be cast; Vulcan, by the same parties, was considered a horrid brute, and they all agreed that it served him right when he lost his case and had to pay the costs of court. Venus still remains the Goddess of Beauty, and not a few of her protégés may be found in California.
The Earth, or as the Latins called it, Tellus (from which originated the expression," do tell us),” is the third planet in the Solar System, and the one on which we subsist, with all our important joys and sorrows. The San Diego Herald