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An extensive region of the heavens towards the south, appeared tinged of so lively a red, that the whole constellationof Orion seemed as if dyed in blood. This light was for sometime fixed, but soon became moveable; and
; after having successively assumed all the tints of violet and blue, it formed a dome, of which the summit nearly approached the zenith, in the south-west. Its splendour was so great, as to be in no degree affected by the strong light of the moon. Maupertuis adds, that he observed only two of these red northern lights in Lepland, which are of very rare occurrence in that country, although the Aurora there Assuutes a great variety of tints; hence they are considered by the natives as of portentious omen, and as the forerunner of some great calamity.
This account of the noises attending the Aurora Borealis has been corroborated by other testimonies. They have been heard at Hudson's Bay, and in Sweden: and Muschenbroek mentions, that the Greenland whale fishers assured him they had frequently heard the noise of the Aurora Borealis; but adds, that no person in Holland had ever experienced this phenomenon. Mr. Cavallo, however, declares that he has repeatedly heard a crack: ling sound proceeding from the Aurora Borealis. And Mr. Nairne mentions, that being in Northampton at the time when the northern lights were remarkably bright, he is confident he perceived a hissing or whizzing sound. Mr. Belknap, also,
of Dover, in New-Hampshire, testifies to the same fact.
The Aurora is by no means confined to the northern hemisphere. In the high southern latitudes, it was long ago observed, that there is a similar phenomenon. And, if the existence of the Aurora australis was before in some measure doubtful, it has been completely ascertained' by the second voyage round the world performed by Captain Cooke. “On Febuary 17, 1773,” says Mr. Forster, who accompanied Cooke in the capacity of naturalist, sin south lat. 58°, a beautiful phenomenon was observed during the preceding night, wbich appeared again this, and several following nights. It consisted of long columns of white light, shooting up from the horizon to the eastward, almost to the zenith, and gradually apreading over the whole southern part of the sky. These columns
were sometimes beat sideways at their upper extremi. ties; and though in most respects similar to the northern lights of our hemisphere, yet differed from them in always being of a whitish colour; whereas ours assume various tints, especially those of a fiery aud purple hue. The sky was generally clear when they appeared, and the air sharp and cold, the thermometer standing at the freezing point."
In connexion with these extracts, we would remark, that various attempts have been made to account, on philosophical principles, for these appearances ; but none of them are to us entirely satisfactory. The hypothesis
. which attributes the Aurora Borealis to electricity, is perhaps the most plausible. This phenomenon is, in all probability, as much the effect of secondary causes as any other phenomenon which falls under our observation. After all, we have very inadequate ideas of the connexion between one thing as a cause and another as an effect.But the great First cause may be distinctly traced in every part of his dominions. Divine goodness is very conspicuous in the illuminations provided for the atmosphere in polar regions, where there would otherwise be six months darkness.
Near the arctic and antaretic circles, the polar regions enjoy a twilight revolving around their horizon a large proportion of their night. Besides this, the moon's nodes are so ordered that her greatest measure of light from her full illumination is enjoyed in the northern hemis. phere when the sun is in the southern, and in the southern when the sun is in the northern. When to these sources of light is added the Aurora, which is much the most frequent in the winter of each hemisphere, we find it a fael, that in a polar night light is usually possessed in sufficient degrees for all needful purposes of life. How great is the wisdom and goodness of the Deity! With what infinite ease he can illuminate his doininions with any amount of light and any hues of splendour which he pleases to command !
THOUGHTS ON ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF NA:
PRIMARY AND SECONDARY PLANETS.
The contemplative mind is interested, expanded, and elevated, by frequently and mioutely surveying the works of an Almighty Architect. The centre of the solar sys tem, though the theme of months past, is not the less attractive or bright. He is still controlling the motions and illuminating the surface of numberless dark bodies which revolve around him. How immense the attrae. tive energies of that body which can extend to the planet Herschel and a thousand times further to some distant comet, an influence so powerful as to bind them in their orbits. That all the planets are in themselves destitute of light, and warmth, and fruitfulness, we have abundant evidence from astronomical observation and from analogy.. Mercury and Venus, when passing between us and the sun, appear like dark spots on its disk. All the other primary and secondary planets would have a similar appearance to an eye placed without their orbits. Astronomers have discovered eleven prinary planets, four of which, sometimes called Asteroides, are very small, and revolve in very elliptical orbits, between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. It is probable that these four once constituted but one planet, and that some powerful impulse severed it into four or more parts. The periods in which they revolve around the sun being so nearly alike, seems to coroborate this hypothesis. The other primary planets vary much in their magnitudes and motions, and distances from the sun, but are alike dependent on bis influence. Some of the primary planets have secondaries revolving around them. The earth has one, which we call the moon. Jupiter has four, Saturn seven, and Herschel six. Our moon is something more than two thousand miles in diameter, and revolves around the earth in 29 1-2 days, at the distance of two hundred and forty thousand miles. Some of the other secondaries are about the size of the moon, others much larger.They revolve around their primaries at different distan.
ces, from one hundred and twenty thousand miles, to more than two million of miles, and in periods of from twenty-three hours, to more than three months. Astron. omical observation has made it very certain that all the secondary planets revolve in their own arēs in the same period that they revolve around their primaries. These secondaries, with their primaries are all receiving their light either directly or indirectly from the sun, around which they revolve. The wisdom, and power, and goodness of the Deity appear conspicuous in the existence, motions and mutual influence of these primary and secondary planets. They serve to refleet light from the sud upon each other. As the side of the moon next the earth is more or less enlightened by the sun, it reflects rays to enlighten the earth. And when the sun is shining only on the outer surface of the moon, all the light which its inner surface, or surface next the earth can then have, must be reflected upon it from the earth. The same is true of the other primary and secondary planets in the solar system.
We love to think of other firmaments, and trace analogies which exist in them. There is an intellectual sky where minds revolve in their own orbits, around the Fountain of all Intelligence. Whatever light, minds possess, is like the light of the planets, wholly from without themselves. Some of them in this infancy of man, seem but diminutive -sparks which impart little light, and that but a small disiance around them. Others have magnitudes and splendour like the larger planets in the solar system. And what is still more interesting, some minds attract around them other minds, which, like primary and secondary planets, mutually enlighten each other. We love to think of ancient sages who have diffused intellectual light around them. The later brillianey of Bacon and Boyle, Newton and Locke, will like. wise attract our attention. These have been encircled with attendant minds, and all have received their intel. lectual light from God. Yet much of the difference in the magnitudes and other circumstances of these scientific lights, has arisen from the cultivation of their minds. Here is a thought adapted to excite a thirst in youthful minds for that intellectual expansion which may diffuse around them a conspicuous light. Let our youthful
readers redeem the time and make use of the means they possess for so desirable a purpose. Do not rest satisfied to be mere glow worms, creeping in the dust; but soar among the constellations which have illuminated the fields of human science and general literature.
6 Covet earnestly the best gifts, and yet I show unto you a more
There is another and a still higher firmament, where moral worth imparts superior splendours. Let us contemplate analogies which exist there. The moral universe may be considered as a firmament. Jehovah is its centre, its light, life, and glory. All holy agents revolve in their own orbits around him. They are of different magnitudes but all dark in themselves, except as they reflect-rays of moral purity. Our knowledge respeeting other parts of God's moral kingdom, besides our own moral system., is very limited, and almost exclusively confined to the discoveries whicb Revelation bas imparted. Indeed, this telescope, given us by divine benevolence, is the only medium by which we can acquire any correct views of moral objects in general. Through this we discover, that “God manifest in the flesh” is the Sun of Righteousness for moral agents on earth ; that all the light and warmth and fertility
of souls is to be traced to bini.
All the truly pious receive and impart some measure of spiritual light. But even some Christians are so diminutive and dim, as to be seen oply at a small distance, and with little power of attraction. Others like Jupiter among the planets, are large, and attract around them numbers of satellites, mutually reflecting on each other the light they receive from their common centre. Besides the rensembrance of Scripture worthies, we love to think of such moral luminaries as Owen and Baxter, Waits and Doddridge, Whitefield and Edwards, Seott and Dwight, which have so recently exchanged a mortal hozon for immortal splendours.
In conclusion ; let us be reminded that the lights of mere. human science will presently cease to sbine, and that even the material worlds are destined to be changed as a failed and threadbare garment; “but they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firinament, and they that turo many righteousness as the stars forever