By Plummer H. C. 1875
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Additional info for An Introductory Treatise On Dynamical Astronomy
The workmen would unhelpfully sing and gossip, but sadly we are not told the topics of their conversations. On a later occasion a horse was recruited, but it was not a success. The metal alloy needed for a telescopic mirror was expensive, and William had therefore opted for mirrors as thin as possible, two half-ton mirrors at £250 each in his original application. Unfortunately in casting the first mirror the mould had shrunk. In consequence the mirror was curved at the back (as well as the front), and so it did not keep its shape but distorted under its own weight as it was tilted in the tube.
In other words, the Orion Nebula, like the Andromeda Nebula and a number of others that William lists, are what we would call galaxies. William concludes the paper with an account of mysterious objects that he calls ‘planetary nebulae’, a term we still use today. He had found the first of these (our Saturn Nebula) soon after his arrival in Datchet. It was near the star m Aquarii, and it seemed to have the circular outline of a planet but the pale light of a nebula, hence the descriptive title that William gave it.
The mottled nebulosity must surely reflect the presence of stars on the verge of resolution, that much was evident. But perhaps each of the two nebulae was a 34 2 The Construction of the Heavens stratum of stars whose plane lay in the line-of-sight from Earth. If so, the mottled nebulosity would be the light of the stars of the stratum in the middle distance while the milky nebulosity would be the light of its very distant stars, stars that were far, far beyond the resolving power of existing telescopes.
An Introductory Treatise On Dynamical Astronomy by Plummer H. C. 1875