Curiosities of the Skyby Garrett Putman Serviss
What Froude says of history is true also of astronomy: it is the most impressive where it transcends explanation. It is not the mathematics of astronomy, but the wonder and the mystery that seize upon the imagination. The calculation of an eclipse owes all its prestige to the sublimity of its data; the operation, in itself, requires no more mental effort than the preparation of a railway time-table.
The dominion which astronomy has always held over the minds of men is akin to that of poetry; when the former becomes merely instructive and the latter purely didactic, both lose their power over the imagination. Astronomy is known as the oldest of the sciences, and it will be the longest-lived because it will always have arcana that have not been penetrated.
Some of the things described in this book are little known to the average reader, while others are well known; but all possess the fascination of whatever is strange, marvelous, obscure, or mysterious -- magnified, in this case, by the portentous scale of the phenomena.
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