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Zetetic Astronomy, by 'Parallax' (pseud. Samuel Birley Rowbotham), [1881], at


THERE seems to be a thorough conviction in the minds of the Newtonian theorists that many of the dark places on the moon are the shadows of mountains, and very graphic descriptions are given of the manner in which these dark places lengthen and shorten, and change their direction, as the sun is high or low, or on the right or left of certain parts. Hitherto, or in the preceding pages of this work, a spirit of antagonism has been maintained towards the Newtonian astronomers. The Zetetic process has forced a direct denial of every part of their system; but in the present instance there are certain points of agreement. There is at present no reliable evidence against the statements of the following quotation

"As the moon turns towards the sun, the tops of her mountains being the first to catch his rays, are made to stand out illuminated, like so many bright diamonds on her unilluminated black surface. And if watched with a pretty good telescope the light of the sun may be seen slowly descending the mountain sides, and at length to light up the plains and valleys below; thus making those parts which but a short time before were intensely black, now white as the snows of winter. And in those basin-like mountains (the craters) the shadows on one

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side may be seen descending far down on the opposite side, thereby revealing their vast proportions and mighty depths. As the time of the full moon approaches the shadows shorten, and when the rays of the sun fall perpendicularly on her surface (as, at full moon) they cease altogether. But now, if still watched, just the opposite appearances will take place, as the enlightened face of the moon begins to turn from the sun the lower parts are the first to lose his rays and pass into darkness, which will be observed to creep gradually up the mountain sides, and at last their tips will appear to pass out of the sun's light as the last spark of a lighted candle. The enlightened parts of the moon, however, no sooner begin to turn from the sun than the shadows of the mountains again come into view, but on the opposite side to that on which they were seen when the moon was on the increase, and gradually to increase in length so long as the parts up which they are thrown are in the light of the sun." 1

That such changes of light and shade in the varying positions of the moon, as those above described, are observed may be admitted; but that they arise from the interposition of immense mountain ranges is of necessity denied. If the Newtonians would be logically modest, the only word they could use would be that prominences exist on the moon's surface. To say that mountains and valleys and extinct volcanic craters exist, is to insult the understanding and the common sense of mankind. What possibility of proof exists that such is the character of the moon? Let them be content with that which is, alone warranted by the appearances which have been observed--that the moon's surface is irregular, having

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upon it prominences and indentations of various forms and sizes, and running in many different directions. This is the common property of all observers, and is not to be seized and perverted, or interpreted by any one class of philosophical arrogants as proving an essential part of their illogical hypothesis.

It has been demonstrated by more than sufficient matter-of-fact evidence that the moon is self-luminous, semi-transparent, admitted to be globular, observed to have prominences and irregularities upon her surface, and moves in a path always above the earth, and at a distance less than that of the sun, and, therefore, that she is a comparatively small body, and simply a satellite and light-giver to the earth. If we choose to reason at all from the facts which appear in evidence, we must necessarily conclude that the moon is a cold, semi-transparent, crystalline mass, more like a spherical ice-berg than anything else, shining with a peculiar delicate phosphorescent light of her own, but, in certain positions, her own light is overcome by the stronger and more violent light of the sun, which causes her protuberances to darken the various indentations adjoining them. This is all that any human being can possibly say without presuming on the ignorance of his fellow men, and daring to obtrude his own wild imaginings where only fact and reason and modest anxiety to know the simple truth ought to exist. This said and submitted to, we are able to illustrate and corroborate it by corresponding facts on earth. It is a well-known fact that often, when passing over the sea during a summer's night, the wake of a vessel--of a steam-ship in particular--is strongly

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luminous as far as the eye can see. It is also a fact often observed that some kinds of fish will shine with a peculiar light for hours after they are taken out of the water; and it is known that, collect this light by concave reflectors to what extent we may, it will not, to whatever degree of brilliancy we may bring it by concentration to a focus, increase the temperature, as indicated by the most delicate thermometer. This is precisely what we find as to the character of moon-light. The following experiment will also illustrate the subject:--Take a partially transparent ball, such as are prepared and sold by the cautchouc toy manufacturers, or a very thin bladder well blown out until it is semi-transparent. To represent the many protuberances, &c., place small patches of gum arabic or isinglass in various directions over one half its surface. Now rub the whole of this half surface with a solution of phosphorus in oil of almonds, and carry it into a dark room. It will give, by turning it slowly round, all the peculiar appearances and phases of the moon; but now bring into the apartment a lighted ordinary tallow candle, and at certain distances it will not overcome the comparatively feeble phosphorescent light, but will cause the places immediately behind the gum arabic or isinglass protuberances to be darkened, on account of the light of the candle being intercepted; thus imitating all the peculiarities which' are known to belong to the moon. Hence, it is repeated, that observation, fact, experiment, and consistent reasoning, all lead us to the conclusion that the moon is a comparatively small body, only a few hundred miles above the earth, that her surface is irregular, that her substance is crystalised

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and semi-transparent, and that she shines with a delicate phosphorescent light of her own, but is subject to the action of the light of the sun, which, when in certain positions, causes those peculiar manifestations of light and shade which dreamy and prepossessed philosophers have assigned to the interposition of immense and peculiar mountain structures. Surely the night of dreams is coming to an end, and the sleepers will awake ere long to open their eyes and apply their talents, not for the interpretation of what they have for so long a period been simply dreaming, but for the discovery of the real and tangible causes of the numerous beautiful phenomena constantly occurring in the world around them.


342:1 "Spherical Form of the Earth, a reply to 'Parallax,' by J. Dyer, p. 34.

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