Punch,  34 (1858), 145.

Alarming Solar Phenomenon

Copernicus Hazy, F.R.A.S., F.R.G.S., &c., &c., &c.


Letter, Spoof

Relevant illustrations:



Astronomy, Observation, Photography, Amateurism, Comparative Philology

    Informs Mr Punch of his interest in the letters of George B Airy, John R Hind, and the secretary of the Photographic Society of London (William Crookes) on the solar eclipse. Noting his favourable geographical location for observing the event, presents his observations bearing upon the outbreak of spots on the sun's face. Using his 'travelling Dollond' placed in his coach-house, he projected an image of the sun onto paper and then a collodion plate. Reports that shortly after the contact of the solar and lunar images, he 'saw a dark object stealing over' the sun's upper rim, a monstrous animal which, as the illustration of the collodion plate shows, was evidently a spider on the telescope lens. Reckons that this casts into shade other solar phenomena, including 'red flames, crowns of glory, dark projections from the rim of the moon's shadow, Bailey's beads'. Convinced by the genuineness and importance of his observation, speculates that it might give 'foundation' to 'the wild Norse legend of the dragon that is one day to devour the Sun and Moon'. Finally, he noticed a spider hanging from the end of his telescope and, identifying himself as a disappointed 'student of nature', crushes the insect.

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