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Also, in 1889, Pickering found that at regular intervals of fifty-two days the lines in the spectrum of of the Great Bear are duplicated, indicating a relative velocity, equal to one hundred miles a second, of two components revolving round each other, of which that apparently single star must be composed. It would be interesting, no doubt, to follow in detail the accumulating knowledge about the distances, proper motions, and orbits of the stars; but this must be done elsewhere. Enough has been said to show how results are accumulating which must in time unfold to us the various stellar systems and their mutual relationships. Variable Stars. — It has often happened in the history of different branches of physical science that observation and experiment were so far ahead of theory that hopeless confusion appeared to reign; and then one chance result has given a clue, and from that time all differences and difficulties in the previous researches have stood forth as natural consequences, explaining one another in a rational sequence. So we find parallax, proper motion, double stars, binary systems, variable stars, and new stars all bound together. The logical and necessary explanation given of the cause of ordinary spectroscopic binaries, and of irregular proper motions of Sirius and Procyon, leads to the inference that if ever the plane of such a binary orbit were edge-on to us there ought to be an eclipse of the luminous partner whenever the non-luminous one is interposed between us. This should give rise either to intermittence in the star's light or else to variability. It was by supposing the existence of a dark companion to Algol that its discoverer, Goodricke of York," in 1783, explained variable stars of this type. Algol (3 Persei) completes the period of variable brightness in 68.8 hours. It loses three-fifths of its light, and regains it in twelve hours. In 1889 Vögel,” with the Potsdam spectrograph, actually found that the luminous star is receding before each eclipse, and approaching us after each eclipse; thus entirely supporting Goodricke's opinion. There are many variables of the Algol type, and information is steadily accumulating. But all variable stars do not suffer the sudden variations of Algol. There are many types, and the explanations of others have not proved so easy. The Harvard College photographs have disclosed the very great prevalence of variability, and this is certainly one of the lines in which modern discovery must progress. Roberts, in South Africa, has done splendid work on the periods of variables of the Algol New Stars.- Extreme instances of variable stars are the new stars such as those detected by Hipparchus, Tycho Brahe, and Kepler, of which many have been found in the last halfcentury. One of the latest great “Novae.” was discovered in Auriga by a Scotsman, Dr. Anderson, on February 1st, 1892, and, with the modesty of his race, he communicated the fact to His Majesty's Astronomer for Scotland on an unsigned post-card." Its spectrum was observed and photographed by Huggins and many others. It was full of bright lines of hydrogen, calcium, helium, and others not identified. The astounding fact was that lines were shown in pairs, bright and dark, on a faint continuous spectrum, indicating apparently that a dark body approaching us at the rate of 55o miles a second * was traversing a cold nebulous atmosphere, and was heated to incandescence by friction, like a meteor in our atmosphere, leaving a luminous train behind it. It almost disappeared, and on April 26th it was of the sixteenth magnitude; but on August 17th it brightened to the tenth, showing the principal nebular band in its spectrum, and no sign of approach or recession. It was as if it emerged from one part of the nebula, cooled down, and
* R. S. E. Trans... vol. xxvii. In 1901 Dr. Anderson
discovered Nova Persei.
rushed through another part of the nebula, rendering the nebular gas more luminous than itself." Since 1892 one Nova after another has shown a spectrum as described above, like a meteor rushing towards us and leaving a train behind, for this seems to be the obvious meaning of the spectra. The same may be said of the brilliant Nova Persei, brighter at its best than Capella, and discovered also by Dr. Anderson on February 22nd, 1901. It increased in brightness as it reached the densest part of the nebula, then it varied for some weeks by a couple of magnitudes, up and down, as if passing through separate nebular condensations. In February, 1902, it could still be seen with an opera-glass. As with the other Novae, when it first dashed into the nebula it was vaporised and gave a continuous spectrum with dark lines of hydrogen and helium. It showed no bright lines paired with the dark ones to indicate a train left behind; but in the end its own luminosity died out, and the nebular spectrum predominated. The nebular illumination as seen in photographs, taken from August to November, seemed to spread out slowly in a gradually increasing circle at the rate of 90" in forty-eight days. Kapteyn put this down to the velocity of light, the original outburst sending its illumination to the nebulous gas and illuminating a spherical shell whose radius increased at the velocity of light. This supposition seems correct, in which case it can easily be shown from the above figures that the distance of this Nova was 3oo light-years. Star Catalogues. – Since the days of very accurate observations numerous star-catalogues have been produced by individuals or by observatories. Bradley's monumental work may be said to head the list. Lacaille's, in the Southern hemisphere, was complementary. Then Piazzi, Lalande, Groombridge, and Bessel were followed by Argelander with his 324, ooo stars, Rumker's Paramatta catalogue of the southern hemisphere, and the frequent catalogues of national observatories. Later the Astronomische Gesellschaft started their great catalogue, the combined work of many observatories. Other southern ones were Gould's at Cordova and Stone's at the Cape. After this we have a new departure. Gill at the Cape, having the comet 1882.ii. all to himself in those latitudes, wished his friends in Europe to see it, and employed a local photographer to strap his camera to the observatory equatorial, driven by clockwork, and adjusted on the comet by the eye. The result with half-an
* For a different explanation see Sir W. Huggins's lecture, Royal Institution, May 13th, 1892.