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It is presumed that only those who know the principal stars and constellations visible in the north temperate zone will take a definite interest in the stars of the tropics, although anyone who looks upward at night must be impressed by the great brilliancy of all the stars, standing out as they do as sharply as on the clearest winter nights north of the tropic of cancer. The star scope in Panama reaches from Polaris in ursa minor, which is low on the northern horizon, to Argo Navis (the ship of the argonauts) which stretches across the southern sky.
In the book by Garrett P. Serviss, "Astronomy with the Naked Eye" (Harpers, New York, 1908) there is a delightfully written chapter on the Southern Constellations, and the facts here cited are on the authority of that chapter, as the star chart herewith is an abridgenemt of the chart in Serviss' book.
As in the north, the stars in Panama are at their best in winter time, when there is least moisture in the air. Then appear the bright constellations Orion, Casseopeia, Ursa Major, Canis Major, Auriga, Taurus, Argo Navis, Crux, and Centauri. Only the last three are peculiar to the tropics. They are visible from January to September, but are best seen from March to September when all are visible at some time between sunset and ten o'clock. When Orion is about 45 degrees
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above the western horizon, March 1 to 20, the Southern Cross is just rising above the eastern horizon, and an hour later the bright stars of the Centaur appear.
Stars between the inner circles can be seen from Panama, but not from States of the United States, north of latitude 35°. No stars are shown within the inner circle because they are not visible from Panama. Stars observable from north of 35° N. are shown in order that one may locate the southern stars. (1) is Orion with its bright star “Rigel"; (2) Canis Major with Sirius; (3) Argo Navis with Canopus and its second bright star “Eta”; (4) Crux or Southern Cross; (5) Centaurus with its bright stars “Alpha” and “Beta"; (6) Hydra, or Sea Serpent; (7) Corvus, the Crow; (8) Virgo with its bright star “Spica”; (9) Ara, the Altar; (10) Libra; (11) Scorpio with its bright star “Antares”; (12) Capri
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cornus; (13) Grus, the Crane; (14) Pisces Aus, Southern Fish; (15) Toucan; (16) Phoenix; (17) Eridanus with the bright star “Achernar.” Dotted lines show direction of Milky Way.
Argo Navis, the ship of the Argonauts, in which Jason and his followers set out to search for the golden fleece,
stretches clear across the southern sky, its Argo Navis. northernmost stars mingling with those of Canopus. Canis Major, while on the east it almost touches
Centaurus and the Southern Cross. Its bright stars outline well the hull of a ship, remarkably like a modern
racing yacht with deep, heavy keel. The bow is lacking, due to an accident that occurred while the fleece hunters were crossing the Bosporus. In the keel is Canopus, the most lucid of the southern stars, and second only to Sirius, in brilliancy. Canopus can be seen low on the southern horizon from States of the United States south of North Carolina, but to most of the visitors to the Canal it is an entirely new star. It is one of the most distant of the stars, is said to be ten thousand times as bright as the sun, and 250 times as
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bright as Sirius; in fact it is the brightest of all the stars, but its great distance from us makes it seem less lucid than Sirius. It was an object of worship in Egypt, China, and Chaldea. The second brightest star in Argo Navis is that designated Eta, but it is remarkable less for its brightness than for its variableness, sometimes being as bright as Canopus, and again being invisible.
Immediately east of Argo Navis, visible during the eight months from January to September, at hours varying from 2
a. m. in January to 8 p. m. in September, is Southern Crux, the Southern Cross. This constellation is Cross. greatly overrated in one sense, because it is
nothing like so conspicuous as Orion, Cassiopeia, the Great Dipper, Scorpio, nor to my mind as the great square of Pegasus; but it is justly famed as the pointer to the south pole, as the most clearly defined of the southern constelations, and because of its romantic influence on the men who discovered and colonized Latin-America. It was not commonly known to Europeans before the time of Columbus; and the effect upon the old navigators can be well imagined, as they saw the familiar stars by which they were accustomed to steer change position in the sky, and this new and brilliant constellation gradually rise. It was a time of even greater superstition than this in which we live, a day of mysticism, and there was varying significance, to the men who murdered in the name of Christ, in the spectacle of this cross seeming to beckon them toward the south. The con. stellation is about 30 degrees north of the south pole, towards which it points by means of a line drawn through its brightest star (alpha) from the star immediately above it (gamma). Alpha shows itself a binary under the telescope. To the astrologers of Asia Minor the cross was known as a part of Cen