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Experiments on Lake Michigan

IF THE WATER were convex, when boats and ships disappear in the distance hull down they would do so because the intervening hill of water would prevent their being seen; it is conclusive that if this were the case, the telescope would be powerless to render the occulted portion of the ships visible again. It is equally clear that if the telescope can restore the

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vanished hulls, the water upon which they sail is not bulged, and does not curvate downward beyond the horizon.

That the surface of the sea is convex, is shown by the way in which the ship disappears when it sails from the shore. First, the hull goes down behind the horizon, then the sails, and finally the mastheads. If the ship moved on any other than a convex surface it would appear again in the telescope.--Prof. Peabody, Astronomer.

It is with reference to this phenomenon that special observations were made on August 16, 1896, from the shore of Lake Michigan, World's Fair grounds, by the Experimenting Staff. The atmosphere was clear and the horizon sharply defined against the sky beyond. Several sloop yachts and a schooner were observed at a distance of about 12 miles. From an altitude of 10 feet above the water (from a pier extending into the Lake), the hulls and about one half of the height of the masts were visible to the unaided eye. Through an opera glass, all of the surface of the sails and the full height of masts were visible, with the hulls still invisible; but with a telescope of about 50 powers, the hull of each vessel was brought into view with remarkable clearness.

We then went to the beach, and with the unaided eye about 30 inches above the surface of the water, only a very small portion of the top of the masts could be seen--they appeared like mere white specks just above the horizon.

With the eye this distance from the water, if the water were convex, the horizon would be two miles away, leaving 10 miles to curvate downward from the horizon, placing the hull of each boat 60 feet below

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the horizon. As the masts of the sloop yachts were probably not over 40 feet in height, their tops would have been at least 20 feet out of sight.

It was now that the test came with the opera glass and the telescope. With the opera glass, only about one half of the height of the sails and masts could be seen; but through the telescope, the hull of each yacht, at the distance of 12 miles, was made plainly visible.

On the Lake shore at Roby, Ind., August 23, 1896, we made seven specific observations, some of which we briefly present below: We were greeted with the most beautiful horizon--clear and well defined; and the observations were rendered the more satisfactory by reason of the sunshine upon the vessels from the west.

As we approached the shore we observed, with the unaided eye, what appeared to be a mere white speck upon the horizon. It was a small steamer, with only a small portion of the pilot house visible above the water line. In the field of the telescope, applied to this horizon point, we observed the steamer down to the actual surface of the water upon which it rested; the whole of its body was in plain view.

In about half an hour the top of the smokestack of another smaller steamer was seen; and through the telescope the whole of the body of the vessel. A number of observations were made of some yachts, whose topmasts only were visible above the water line by means of the naked eye, but whose hulls were clearly seen through the instrument, the altitude of which was about 18 inches above the Lake level.

Presently, we saw a larger vessel running along the horizon line, with nearly the whole of its body out of sight. It was one of the liners running from the docks of Chicago to Michigan City, Ind. With the

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telescope it was brought into full view. It was going in a direction that soon took it entirely out of sight to the naked eye; not even the smallest portion of it was visible to the eye alone; its direction could only be pointed out by the cloud of smoke which followed it. Once the smoke cleared away, and there was nothing to indicate to the unaided eye the whereabouts of the vessel; and it could only be found by sweeping the horizon with the telescope.

To obtain the very best observation possible, the telescope was adjusted very carefully and allowed to rest upon a support; and through the steady atmosphere upon the quiet Lake we observed the whole of the vessel, every part of which was entirely obscured to the unaided vision.

The steamer was at least 15 miles distant; according to the accredited convexity, the lower part of the vessel would have been 150 feet below the horizon. If we considered refraction to be one third (it is seldom allowed to be over one fifth), there would remain 100 feet between the refracted visual line and the hull of the steamer!

Now let the facts of this observation be considered. If it be admitted that convexity intervened between the eye and the vessel to cut it off from view, would not the convexity still remain to occult it in the telescopic field? It is clearly to be seen that if convexity were the cause of the disappearance of the vessel, it would be as impossible to see it through the instrument as with the naked eye.

It seems strange that a matter so easily observed as this should have so long escaped even the most casual observer,--to say nothing of the scientist. We offer

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at this time no explanation of the reason they have overlooked it; suffice it now to say that what we have observed can be seen any clear and calm day upon the Lake.

Observations with Opera Glass and Telescope from Naples Beach, Florida

The following are some of the many observations made during the five months' experimentations at the Operating Station.

On January 12, from the Naples beach, a four-mast schooner was observed at a distance of about 10 miles. It at first appeared to be only a dark line upon the water horizon. Soon, however, it became more distinct. The hull and about one half the masts, and consequently about two thirds of the mainsails, appeared to be cut off by the water beneath. Through the large mounted telescope, not only were the top of the masts and the sails, but also the hull in plain view.

Capt. Gilbert, of the sloop Ada, who was present at the time of the observation, considered the vessel about half mast "down." Upon viewing the vessel through the instrument and seeing the hull even down to the water upon which it sailed, he considered it a genuine case of bringing into view the hull of a ship invisible to the unaided eye.

How do we know that we saw only about half the masts with the naked eye? We will endeavor to illustrate the same by means of a rough draft of the four-mast schooner in the accompanying cut. The topsails, it will be noticed, incline from topmasts to width of mainsails, leaving Vs between the topsails. The appearance of the vessel to the unaided vision was as in Fig. 1, the space between the topsails reaching

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almost to the horizon. The horizontal dotted line AB in Fig. 2, shows to the naked eye the apparent relation of the topsails to the horizon.

Fig. 2 shows the vessel as it appeared in the telescopic field throughout the time of the observation. This gives the comparative observations with the eye and telescope. An opera glass of about six diameters was also used, its power being sufficient to bring nearly all of the mainsails into view, but not the hull.

[paragraph continues] Through the opera glass, that part of the vessel above the dotted line CD could be seen. The more powerful the means of vision the farther the horizon is extended.

On January 19, about 4 p. m., we observed a dark cloud line just above the southern horizon. As a small funnel seemed to connect the cloud with the horizon, the conclusion was reached that it was a steamer coming into our horizon. There was nothing visible to the unaided vision above the water line but the smoke.

The appearance of the horizon at that point we have endeavored to represent in Fig. 3, in above cut. When viewed through the telescope, the lighthouse tender "Mangrove" was observed. The body of the vessel to the water line, the rigging, masts, and pilot-house were visible as shown in Fig. 4.


Away Down on the Standards<br> At Gordon's pass, 2½ miles south of Naples; 4 feet nearer the water than at the beginning; the Straight-edges and the Horizon.
Click to enlarge

Away Down on the Standards
At Gordon's pass, 2½ miles south of Naples; 4 feet nearer the water than at the beginning; the Straight-edges and the Horizon.


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This observation was in every way satisfactory, because the condition of the atmosphere admitted of a sharp, clear view of the horizon and the smoke, which made the contrast more effective in the comparative observations. In this experiment the telescope brought all of the body of the "Mangrove" into view, when entirely invisible to the naked eye.

February 7, 5 p. m.; two-mast schooner, with two flying jibs was seen, which to the unaided eye appeared about half mast "down," with the hull entirely out of sight. There could be no mistake about this, as the vessel was observed in the north while the sun was shining brightly from the southwest.

Through the mounted telescope of about fifty diameters all of the sails, masts, and hull were plainly visible to the water line. Sloop was seen at the same time as the two-mast schooner, appearing only as a white speck on the horizon. Through the telescope the sail, mast, jib, and hull were visible.

February 11, 4 p. m.; large schooner observed in southwest; appearance to unaided eye about half mast "down," with the hull entirely hidden from view. Through the telescope the lower masts, sails, and hull were visible.

February 13, 9:45 a. m.; sloop observed about 9 miles from shore. With the most careful observation with the eye alone, not more than half of the mainsail could lie seen. As the vessel was in a calm, the very best opportunity was afforded for critical observation. The telescope not only showed plainly the topmast and rigging, but also the hull down to the surface of the water.

February 15, 10:15 a. m.; a jigger rig yacht came

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into view with only about one third masts visible above horizon. The horizon line was fine; there was no haze, and topsail of the vessel was clear cut and well defined to the naked eye, the water beneath apparently occulting two thirds of sails and all of hull. At first glance it appeared as a white speck on the horizon; the most careful view with the unaided vision would not permit the sight of the lower sails and hull.

The view through the telescope showed such a contrast, through which the hull became visible with marked distinctness, the vessel in the telescopic field being visible down to the water upon which it sailed.

February 17, 10 a. m.; schooner observed in north-west. A sailor passing at the time was asked how far "down" the vessel appeared to him. "About half mast 'down,'" he said. With the axis of the telescope about 5 feet above water level, the hull was visible, and was observed by members of our Staff and Corps, as well as by the sailor.

The telescope was then taken to the water's edge, with the tripod lying on the sand and the telescope resting on a small support, so that it was about 15 inches above the Gulf level. Through the instrument in this position, with the head on the sand at the subjective eyepiece, the hull was still visible.

The sailor considered the vessel about 8 miles distant. With the eye 15 inches above the water, the horizon, if the earth were convex, would be about 1½ miles distant, leaving 6½ miles for declination beyond the horizon, which would. amount, according to the ratio of curvature, to a little over 30 feet, placing the hull that far below the line of vision!

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Sanibel Light Visible 34 Miles

The lighthouse on Sanibel Island is 34 miles N. N. W. from Naples. The light has an elevation of 98 feet above mean tide level. In order that other lights may not be mistaken for lights in lighthouses, every such light possesses certain characteristics by which it may be recognized by all--such as alternating or intermittent flashes, different colors, etc.

On the evening of January 5, 1897, from the dock extending into the Gulf at Naples, the Sanibel Light was observed through the large mounted telescope, directed to N. N. W. The intermitting flashes showed it to be the Sanibel Light beyond any reasonable doubt.

Let us consider the utter impossibility of observing this light at this distance if the earth were convex. The axis of the telescope was about 17 feet above the water level; this would place the horizon about 5 miles away, leaving 29 miles of declination from the horizon to the lighthouse, which would amount to 560 feet, the required height of the light to be seen from Naples, at an elevation of 17 feet.

Here is manifest a difference of 462 feet between the fallacious Copernican theory and facts of actual observation! This light has also been seen from the Naples dock with the naked eye, under extremely favorable circumstances, concerning which we append the following statement:

In March, 1895, one evening between 8 and 9 o'clock p.m., I, in company with Mr. Drummond and Mr. Hugh McDonald, of Covington, Ky., and Thos. E. Hart and N. Walker, of Marco, Fla., saw from the pier or dock at Naples, Fla., the Sanibel Light in lighthouse on Sanibel Island, N. N. W. from Naples. The evening was clear and the light shone clearly.

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The light is an intermittent one, with one bright flash and two less bright; these flashes came in regular order throughout the time of observation, so that we could not have been mistaken regarding it being the Sanibel Light. It was at low tide, Gulf very smooth, with northeast wind for several days previous. The mean difference between high and low tides here is about 3½ feet. The heighth of the floor of the pier from low tide is about 12 feet.--David N. Walker, Sailor, Marco, Fla.

I was present at the observation referred to, and attest the truthfulness of the above statements.--N. Walker, Marco, Fla.

Cape Romano Visible 25 Miles With the Eye at Water Level

With clear atmosphere and calm weather, the distance at which objects can be seen upon the sea is greater than would be possible upon the basis of the earth's convexity. We append the following statement handed to us by a citizen of Marco, Fla., an old resident, familiar with every point along the Florida west coast:

About the 29th of January, 1895, at about 4 p. in., Mr. S. E. Williams and myself, from Rabbit Key, a small island just north of Pavilion Key, and a little south of Chokoloskee Pass, observed Cape Romano at a distance of about 25 miles. The timber on the cape was as plain to the unaided eye as if it had been only a few miles away with ordinary atmosphere. A little schooner yacht that had passed us and had been out of sight for over two hours, was in plain view, even to her hull.

There was also a schooner that we had not seen before, sailing along the channel from Coon Key to Cape Romano; but I do not remember whether we could see her hull or not. The distance I should judge to be about 25 miles. I believe that we could have seen

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the above-named objects 10 miles farther, as we laid down over the deck of the boat, with our heads on a level with the water, and we could see the cape, schooners, etc., as plainly as when on the cabin.

The sky was cloudy, and we could not see the sun. There was very little breeze at the time; what there was, came from the south. The reason I know that it was Cape Romano, is that there is no other land W. N. W. from Rabbit Key--the course.

Also, Mr. N. Walker, of Marco, and Robert Anderson, of Hotel Naples, saw Sanibel Light from the Naples dock one night in March of the same year. I would make affidavit to the above, except as to distance, which may not be exactly correct.--Thos. E. Hart, Marco, Fla.

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