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Chapter 21 Astronomical Observatories; Calculatoria.

  • I asked Bacon did he know what this edifice was intended for ? He looke_hrough the telescope, and replied, "Why, that is the famous observatory o_rumiah. I know it by an illustration of the building which I have in m_ibrary. I have not been there myself, but it must be well worth seeing."
  • "But how did they come to erect a building of such gigantic dimensions so fa_eyond the circle of civilization ? "
  • " Simply for the sake of saving time," was the answer; " now-a-days only thos_pots are selected for astronomical observations where they can be made mos_onveniently and in the shortest possible time. In Europe the nights ar_carcely ever sufficiently clear to use our now so powerful glasses t_dvantage. There, on the contrary, during several months of the year the sk_s so bright and transparent that one can even with the naked eye observe th_oons of Jupiter and the phases of Venus. This had been known many years ag_o the American Stoddard, who even called Herschel's attention to the fact,
  • but that was not the time for taking advantage of such excellen_pportunities. Not until the beginning of this century was the foundation-
  • stone to be laid of the central observatory, as it is called; the gloriou_uilding was erected at the joint expense of all civilised nationalities, th_atter including the Persians themselves, who have long ceased to be behind u_uropeans. I need scarcely assure you that this institution is amply provide_ith the most excellent instruments, and that it has a staff of scientific me_econd to none for making the necessary observations."
  • " Then at last," said I, " the science of astronomy has wandered back to th_radle of its infancy, the soil of Chaldea. But what has become of the once s_elebrated observatories of Leiden, Greenwich, the Pulkowa, etc., etc. ?"
  • They have been changed into calculatoria, as in fact they had been already fo_ome time past. Among them are distributed the observations made at th_entral observatory, and these they have to work out. At the same time thes_alculatoria continue to be of some use to the young astronomer; having ther_o encounter no end of difficulties, he may learn the value of the Lati_dage, _Per ardua ad astera_ , and so grow ultimately into a hard-working an_ccurate observer.
  • With regard to the practical results already obtained at the Orumia_bservatory—in consequence of our knowledge of the celestial bodies having s_onsiderably increased—I merely wish to call your attention for a moment t_onder map and the words printed underneath. I will rather not offend you b_iving you any warning or advice in the matter.