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Familiar astronomy, or, An introduction to the study of the heavens by Hannah Mary Bouvier Peterson

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Familiar astronomy, or, An introduction to the study of the heavens : illustrated by celestial maps, and upwards of 200 finely executed engravings ; to which is added a treatise on the globes, and a comprehensive astronomical dictionary ; for the use of schools, families, and private students by Hannah Mary Bouvier Peterson.


Philadelphia : Childs & Peterson, Trubner, 1856. Hardcover. 499 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm. Missing title page and all of the pages before the dedication page as well. The double folded plate is also missing in this book. Everything else looks good. A few scattered brown spots within the pages, corners dented, and spine repaired with outer edges exposed. Pages toned and unmarked. Binding is still holding on strong.



From the Preface:

This work, embracing all the recent observations of the heavenly bodies, is intended to be a complete treatise on Astronomy, conducting the pupil, step by step, from the base to the summit of the structure ; explaining as far as practicable, by figures and diagrams, all the celestial phenomena, and the laws by which they are governed, without entering into those mathematical details which properly belong to treatises designed for those who propose to make Astronomy their chief study.

This science, formerly but little taught in seminaries, now claims the attention of all enlightened teachers; its importance having been acknowledged by the greatest men of all ages.

Besides elevating the mind and improving the thinking faculties, it is of the utmost utility to man. Without Astronomy we could have no proper computation of time, no true knowledge of geography, and no correspondence between distant nations ; for, as Lacaille observes, Astronomy is the governor of the civil division of time, the soul of chronology and geography, and the only guide of the navigator."

The present work is divided into five parts : the first treats of the laws which govern the heavenly bodies ; the second, of the components of the solar system, and the phenomena attending their movements; the third, of the sidereal heavens, embracing the fixed stars, clusters, and nebulae; the fourth, of the principal instruments used in the observatory; and the fifth, of the use of the globes. To which is appended two celestial maps and a comprehensive Astronomical Dictionary, which will facilitate the studies of the pupil, and relieve the teacher from much explanation which would otherwise be unavoidable. The value of this feature of the work must be obvious to all.

In order to carry out the method thus proposed, the form of question and answer has been adopted, because the plan possesses peculiar advantages. It is calculated to concentrate the attention of the pupil upon the subject under immediate consideration; to dwell upon every point until perfectly understood; to define the precise limits of each proposition; and to afford means for enlarging the explanations without crowding the mind with ideas but imperfectly comprehended.

Short notes in smaller type have been introduced throughout the text, which serve to elucidate the figures and diagrams, and to convey more complete explanations of particular subjects. There is a series of notes at the end of the work, which will facilitate the advancement of those who may wish to enter more fully into this arduous yet fascinating study.

The maps, figures, and diagrams have been carefully drawn, and are executed in the best manner. Thus it will be seen that nothing has been spared to render this work useful and attractive to the pupil, as well as to the student of riper years; at once qualifying it to occupy a place in the school-room, the study, or the parlor.

An intimate knowledge of the heavenly bodies renders them as familiar as friends; so that he who can be induced to turn occasionally from the cares and disappointments of life to the study of the heavens will be amply recompensed by the rational entertainment which it affords.