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Bruhns’ Life of Encke is well worth reading, not only by those who are interested in Encke’s fame and49 work as an astronomer, but by the general reader. Encke the man is presented to our view, as well as Encke the astronomer. With loving pains the pupil of the great astronomer handles the theme he has selected. The boyhood of Encke, his studies, his soldier life in the great uprising against Napoleon in 1813, and his work at the Seeberge Observatory; his labours on comets and asteroids; his investigations of the transits of 1761 and 1769; his life as an academician, and as director of an important observatory; his orations at festival and funeral; and lastly, his illness and death, are described in these pages by one who held Encke in grateful remembrance as ‘teacher and master,’ and as a ‘fatherly friend.’


feature of the work is the correspondence introduced into its pages. We find Encke in communication with Humboldt, with Bessel and Struve, with Hansen, Olbers, and Argelander; with a host, in fine, of living as well as of departed men of science.

(From Nature, March 10, 1870.)
VENUS ON THE SUN’S FACE.
More than a century ago scientific men were looking forward with eager interest to the passage of the planet Venus across the sun’s face in 1769. The Royal Society judged the approaching event to be of50 such extreme importance to the science of astronomy that they presented a memorial to King George III., requesting that a vessel might be fitted out, at Government expense, to convey skilful observers to one of the stations which had been judged suitable for observing the phenomenon. The petition was complied with, and after some difficulty as to the choice of a leader, the good ship ‘Endeavour,’ of 370 tons, was placed under the command of Captain Cook. The astronomical work entrusted to the expedition was completely successful; and thus it was held that England had satisfactorily discharged her part of the work of utilising the rare phenomenon known as a transit of Venus Two considerations must have caused Scheer the gravest possible anxiety..

A century passed, and science was again awaiting with interest the approach of one of these transits. But now her demands were enlarged. It was not one ship that was asked for, but the full cost and charge of several expeditions. And this time, also, science had been more careful in taking time by the forelock. The first hints of her requirements were heard some fourteen years ago, when the Astronomer-Royal began that process of laborious inquiry which a question of this sort necessarily demands. Gradually, her hints became more and more plain-spoken; insomuch that Airy—her mouthpiece in this case—stated definitely in 1868 what he thought science had a right to claim from England in this matter. When the claim came before our Government, it was met with a liberality which was a pleasing surprise after some former placid references of scientific people to their own devices. The sum51 of ten thousand five hundred pounds was granted to meet the cost of several important and well-appointed expeditions; and further material aid was derived from the various Government observatories.

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