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have ten other stars of the first magnitude visible to us; these you will see noticed in the table.
The ancient astronomers formed a number of imaginary figures in the sky, and then placed the fixed stars in groups according to this arrangement; twelve of the principal they called the Zodiac, which as a zone encircled the heavens; in addition to the Zodiac they had seventy-nine other constellations, making in the whole ninety-one; these you will find arranged in the table below, so that at a glance the whole idea may be before you. Many of these constellations we have watched together; and have learnt the truth of those words, "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handy-work." (Ps. xix. 1.)
THE CONSTELLATIONS OF THE STARRY HEAVENS.
THE SIGNS OF THE ZODIAC.
Aries, the Ram.
Virgo, the Virgin
* From the Greek word for animals or living creatures.
As to the number of the fixed stars, it is calculated, that on the brightest star-light night we can seldom see more than two thousand; yet the stars are numberless. (Gen. xv. 5.) Dr. Herschel says, when gazing on the MILKY WAY, that beautiful galaxy of light, that looks like a wreath of bright silvery clouds fixed in the azure sky, that he observed five hundred and eighty-eight stars through his telescope at the same time, and they continued equally numerous for a quarter of an hour. In ONE portion of the milky way he computed there were two hundred and fifty thousand stars.
Thus, my dear children, I have sought to bring before your young minds, the blessings of this fourth day's creation; little, indeed, I have said to what might have been said, for the subject is boundless. Relative to the astronomical part of the letter, I have endeavoured to gather as much information as I could in so small a compass, from
the best established authorities, but I know the subject is one of profound depth; "a few pebbles have been gathered on the sea-shore," as Sir Isaac Newton so beautifully and humbly said, "but the illimitable ocean is before us," and yet the little we do know is, as I before remarked, of amazing benefit to us. A little while, and the whole scene will fade away, for the day is hastening when the heavens shall be gathered together as a scroll, and as a vesture shall the Lord fold them up, and they shall be changed. (Ps. cii. 26; Heb. i. 12.)
Beloved children, may the Lord give to each of you to be his own, so that that day shall have no terror in it to you; but with loins girded, and lamps burning, may you wait his return, (Luke xii. 35,) who shall rise" THE SUN OF RIGHTEOUSNESS, with healing in his wings." (Mal. iv. 2.) Then shall the night pass away, and all will be joy, unutterable joy, to those who love HIS appearing. (2 Tim. iv. 8, compared with Heb. ix. 28.)
Believe me, dear Children,
Ever your affectionate Father.
THOU, LORD, IN THE BEGINNING, HAST LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH; AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF THINE HANDS: THEY SHALL PERISH; BUT THOU REMAINEST: AND THEY ALL SHALL WAX OLD AS DOTH A GARMENT; AND AS A VESTURE SHALT THOU FOLD THEM UP, AND THEY SHALL BE CHANGED: BUT THOU ART THE SAME, AND THY YEARS SHALL NOT FAIL.-Hebrews i. 10-12.
MY DEAR CHILDREN,
I HAVE been thinking much of the scene to which I alluded at the close of my last letter, and of the verses especially which I have selected as a motto for this. That which so forcibly strikes me, is the progression we had made in passing on from one planet to another, thousands and millions of miles; until, having reached the Georgium Sidus, we found ourselves in the utmost bounds of the solar system, eighteen thousand millions of miles from the sun: from thence we passed on into the boundless heaven of the fixed stars, and here all
Foreign astronomers have given this star the beautiful name of Uranus, which is derived from the Greek word for "the heavens," probably considering it the boundary of the solar heavens.