The Beauty of the Heavens is a “pictorial display of the astronomical phenomena of the universe”. The work published in 1842 features 104 elegant illustrations by Charles F Blunt. Blunt aimed his book of popular astronomy at teachers and families. This was a work suited for home schooling.
The introduction enthuses:
The Illustrations form the miniature scenery of a public exhibition, such as is occasionally witnessed in lecture-rooms; the text presenting the substance, the order, and the actual delivery of what becomes, in the present instance, a Family Astronomical Lecture. The prominent features of the present Work are, the novelty and simplicity of the plan, and the elegance of its execution. With its aid a family need not hence forth quit their own parlour, or drawing-room fireside, to enjoy the sublime “ beauty of the heavens but, within their domestic circle, may, without any previous acquirements in Astronomy, become their own instructors in a knowledge of its great and leading truths and phenomena.
The Lecture may be read aloud by a parent, teacher, or any member of a party, the Scenes being exhibited, at the same time, in the numerical succession corresponding to their order of description. It would be impossible to devise a more rational, or, to a well-regulated mind, a more cheerful mode of passing an evening; or of inculcating the Divine lesson, of looking “ through Nature up to Nature’s God.”
“INDEPENDENTLY of the great interest we must take in such inquiries as lead to an accurate knowledge of the body on which we live, it is highly important to a clear understanding of its true nature, and the operations of the planetary system, that we make ourselves perfectly acquainted with the circumstances and the position of our earth, which is itself a member of that system; and, for us, holds the important place of the station, or observatory, whence we view and estimate the phenomena and evolutions of the whole…
A little reflection, and a reference to common and well-known appearances observed in travelling, either by sea or land, readily convince us that the earth is of a spherical or globular form. Let a person take any station in a level country, or at sea, and carefully observe the objects within the range of his view; let him then advance in any direction, and, as he moves forward, the objects behind him gradually disappear, and new objects in his front come into view…
The scene exhibits these effects, where the figures of the ships are shewn to become respectively more and more curtailed in their apparent height above the surface of the sea, as their distance from the spectator increases. Of the distant ship he sees only the upper parts of the masts; of the next nearer to him he sees the lower parts of the masts and rigging; but of the ship at the nearest point of distance, he sees, no only the masts entirely, but the hull of the vessel itself, down the surface of the water on which it floats, together with that portion of the surface which lies between the object and himself; of the ship more remotely placed, he sees nothing. These are appearances which can only be reconciled by assuming a spherical figure for the earth.”
Although the varying phases of the moon are among the most frequently observed phenomena of the heavens, they are yet the most surprising and beautiful; owing to the frequency and the strict regularity of these changes of appearance and situation in the moon, the causes of the phenomena are little thought of by an ordinary observer. If the change from new moon to full moon, and from full to new, happened only at long intervals, they would, without doubt, be considered the most extraordinary of all celestial phenomena.
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