Punch,  41 (1861), 75.

Meteors for the Million



News-Commentary, Drollery


Astronomy, Observation, Methodology, Amateurism

    Discusses the strange instructions which Punch has been given by 'an eminent astronomer' for observing and recording the 'position and appearance' of meteors. The instructions require the observer to clasp a tree at arm's length, swing his body until the bole of the tree crosses the meteor's path, and inscribe a chalk mark on the tree's 'face' in order to measure the position of the meteor. Notes the ill effects of this procedure on the body and mind, and goes on to consider the astronomer's protocols for recording the appearance, time of flight, and other details about the comet. Ironically deems such protocols 'vastly clear and lucid', and questions why they do not explain what observers should do if meteors 'fall behind them' or to whom they should send their inscribed trees. Anticipates the pleasure that this will give to those 'blest with scientific minds', but warns of the dangers of confusing meteors with policemen's bull's-eyes.

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