Thursday, December 4, 2008

from Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society, 1855

(page 89) On an Appearance seen in the Moon, by Robert Hart, Esq. (Letter to the Astronomer Royal.)

“On the night of the 27th December, 1854, between 6 and 7 p.m., the moon was very bright. I had brought my 10-inch reflector to bear upon the moon; on the shaded side of the disk I observed a white spot, where I have marked it on the sketch. As it was of the colour of the light of the moon, and not like starlight, I thought it part of the moon; but as it disappeared in less than a minute after I first observed it, I concluded it was a star eclipsed by the moon. I now turned my attention to the light part of the disk, and my eye was at once attracted by an appearance I had never seen before on the surface of the moon, although I have observed her often during these last forty years. She was 8d 4h old at the time, and just on the edge of the light, where I have marked on the sketch, there were two luminous spots, on on either side of a small ridge, which ridge was in the light, and of the same colour as of the moon; but these spots were of a yellow flame colour, while all the rest of the enlightened part was of a snowy white, and the mountain-tops that were coming into the light, and just on the shadow side of the spots, were the same colour as the moon. The lights of these spots were like the light of the setting sun reflected from a window a mile or two off. I observed it for five hours. I thought them rather less bright than as first seen, but very little less; so bright were they, when the instrument was the least thing out of focus, they showed rays around them as a star would do.

“It appeared to me, from the brightness of the light and the contrast of colour, to be two active volcanoes or two mouths of one in action.

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