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amined both 'stations, and reported to her government that Three Island Harbor offered the best chances of fine weather, on account of being on the leeward end of the island. The change was not known to the American party until the Swatara reached Cape Town, where the English party had already arrived. On comparing notes it was found that both parties were bound for the same part of the island. The most tantalizing part of the result was that the station which all the parties avoided was reported to have enjoyed a beautiful day on the 9th of December.
The Swatara proceeded from Kerguelen to Hobart Town, Tasmania, or Van Diemen's Land, as it used to be called, and there landed two parties. One of these was in charge of Professor William Harkness, of the Naval Observatory, and the other in charge of Captain C. W. Raymond, of the Corps of Engineers, U.S.A. The latter party was designed for Crozet's Islands, a group some distance west of Kerguclen; but when the Swatara arrived there it was found impossible to effect a landing, owing to a sudden storm which blew the ship so far away that she could not return to the island and land the party without spending so much time as to endanger her reaching the other stations in season for the observations.
The meteorological reports from Hobart Town for the month of December in previous years had been so favorable that this was regarded as the best station in the southern hemisphere. But the whole season proved stormy in the extreme, so that it was with the greatest difficulty that the astronomers could get observations enough to rate their clocks and chronometers. At Hobart Town Professor Harkness had very bad weather on the day of the transit; indeed, there was heavy rain during a considerable portion of the time that Venus was in transit. But he succeeded in getting about ninety photographs by taking advantage of openings in the clouds, so that he had no cause to be dissatisfied with his results. Captain Raymond's party was at Campbell Town, about a hundred miles north of Hobart Town, where both the weather and the results were very much the same. Fewer photographs were obtained, but Captain Raymond secured a good observation of internal contact at egress.
The chief of the New Zealand party was Professor C. H. F. Peters, of Hamilton College, with Lieutenant E. W. Bass, of the Corps of Engineers, as assistant astronomer. The station originally designed for him was Bluff Harbor, at the extreme southern end of the southernmost large island. But on reconnoitring the ground, it was found that the chances of clear weather were better on the high lands of the interior; the station was therefore finally chosen near Queenstown. The change proved to be very fortunate. Both at Bluff Harbor, in the south, and at the English station at Christ Church, it was cloudy or raining during the whole of the transit, so that the English observers did not catch a glimpse of it, while Dr. Peters had so much clear weather as to obtain a very fine collection of photographs. But it was cloudy both at the beginning and end of the transit, so that he got only one of the four contacts.
The easternmost of the southern parties was that of Mr. Edwin Smith, of the Coast Survey, with Mr. Scott as first assistant, and was stationed at Chatham Island. This party suffered the worst of all from unfavorable weather on the day of the transit; only a few glimpses of the sun were obtained, by utilizing which the party took six or eight successful photographis.
It will be seen that the weather at the American stations was very remarkable in one point: at not a single station did the operations entirely fail through cloudiness, while they suffered, more or less, from this cause at every station. That it should have been partly cloudy at all three northern stations was a great disappointment, yet the number of available photographs in the two hemispheres is very nearly equal. The eccentricity of the weather seemed to show itself in a playful manner by favoring those places where the chances of fine weather had been found to be
least. Mr. Janssen, the celebrated French spectroscopist, who went to Japan to observe the transit, had fixed upon Yokohama as his station. On arriving there he learned that the American commission had for two years caused meteorological observations to be made at Yokohama and Nagasaki, which showed the latter to be the most favorable station. He therefore moved thither with his instruments, occupying a station two or three miles distant from Mr. Davidson's. When the day cf the transit arrived, the probabilities” were set at defiance by the weather at Yokohama being finer than at Nagasaki.
What the public now have to look forward to is the final result of all these expeditions; and this is something which we regret to find there is no immediate prospect of learning. No nation has yet made any official publication even of its observations. The fact is that the observing parties have brought home an immense mass of material, the working up of which requires much consideration and great labor. The greatest accuracy must be sought after at every step, and any attempt to push through the complicated operations which are necessary so as to obtain immediate results would be entirely futile. In order to compare the times of the observations in the two hemispheres the longitudes of all the stations must be known. Observations for this purpose were made by the parties; but to calculate the results is a much slower and more difficult process than to make the observations. Another tedious work will be the reading of the photographic negatives. The computation of the contact observations will be easier; indeed, a French mathematician has actually published a result (8.87" for the solar parallax) from the observations of a single pair of stations. But a result of this sort is hardly better than guess-work; and, as it is said that the other results of the French observations are different, we may fear that the above result was published only because it came out about right. Altogether, we fear it will be two or three years before the observations by each nation are worked up ready for publication; and when this is done, it will only furnish the data from which some mathematician will deduce the final result.
Even then every thing will be carried through much more rapidly than in the case of the transit of 1769, notwithstanding that, owing to the more refined modern methods, the labor of working up the old observations was much less than must be devoted to the recent ones.
ON THE OBSERVATION OF VARIABLE STARS. A second catalogue of variable stars, with valuable notes relating thereto, has just been published by Schönfeld, whose first catalogne, in 1866, with the additions of 1868, is already
well known to the few astronomers who are sufficiently interested in this subject to institute observations upon these objects. To Argelander, Schmidt, and Schönfeld is due the greater part of the credit of having advanced our knowledge of the variability of the brightness of stars to its present degree of precision. It seems to be unfortunate that so very few astronomers occupy themselves with this portion of observational astronomy, the neglect of which, in fact, seems entirely unjustifiable. The conclusions in reference to the physical condition of the stars that may be attained by observations of the variable stars are so related to those derivable from the analysis of their light made by means of the spectroscope that it is surprising that the older sister of these two branches of observation is in these later times, so much neglected.-Vierteljahrsschrift der Astron. Gesellschaft, X., 74.
TIME ARRANGEMENT AT PITTSBURGH.
In his account of the very perfect arrangements at Pittsburgh for the regulation of the city time, Professor Langley states that, by the discrepancies of clocks and watches, the amount of time wasted is in the aggregate very considerable, and is indirectly felt by every individual, making it a public convenience to have a simple and universally accessible means of obtaining standard time throughout the community. The arrangements devised by him for doing this are in some degree peculiar to Pittsburgh, which is as yet in advance of all other American cities in this respect. The astronomers at the Observatory in Allegheny City having accurate time for conducting their observations, it was only necessary to secure some means by which this time could be reliably and widely distributed. Electricity was called in to do this, a current being automatically sent from the observatory clock to the large tower clock in the City Hall at every beat of the seconds pendulum, and by an electro-magnetic arrangement in the turret that clock is caused to beat in perfect unison with the standard at the observatory; it also automatically gives notice to the observatory if it is in error to any extent. At the exact second of noon a special current is sent, which raises a detent, and allows a hammer to strike the large bell at the proper instant. The public appreciation of the convenience and utility of the system is daily shown by the attention given to the stroke at noon. During nearly two years there has not been any interruption from the failure of the electro-magnetism.-Langley in Account of the Nero City Hall, Pittsburgh.
METEORITES IN INDIA. The details have recently been received of a very remarkable fall of meteoric stones that took place on the 23d of September, 1873, in India. The largest pieces and the greatest number fell near the village of Kahirpur, in latitude 29° 56' N., longitude 72° 12' E. Five stones are mentioned as having fallen at this place, but others appear to have been obtained. At a number of other places stones also fell, and the whole district over which the fall seems to have spread has a length of sixteen miles in a southeast and northwest direction, and a breadth of about three miles. Many of the stones were found imbedded in the earth at a depth of about eighteen inches. The largest three weighed ten pounds, and were very irregular in shape, and all broken. As to the composition of these aerolites, it is of the usual steel-gray color and dense crystalline texture. The specific gravity of one of the pieces is given at 3.66. The appearance of the meteor was exceedingly brilliant, and its disappearance was followed, after an interval of about three and a half minutes, by a loud report, whose long reverberation died away like distant thunder.-Journal of the Asiatic Society, Bengal, 1874, 34.
ANCIENT EGYPTIAN ASTRONOMICAL OBSERVATIONS. Renouf has communicated to the Society of Biblical Archæology the result of his study of the astronomical calendar which was discovered in 1829 by Champollion near Thebes, and which was supposed by him to present a table of the constellations and their infinences for all the hours of each month in the year. This calendar, which has for fifty years formed the subject of numerous publications and speculations, is now interpreted in a very different manner by Renouf, who decides that it is a record of the position of the stars in the sky at certain times in the night. It is, in fact, a table of observations, and not of astronomical calculations. Once in the course of every fifteen nights the observer ap