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Among the various objects which engage the attention, and occupy the leisure hours, of those who are favourably disposed to mental pursuits, the works of nature are not always sufficiently estimated and brought into view. The traveller and the historian, the artist and the artisan, offer their various works and productions for the study or recreation of young and old: but they invite attention, for the most part, to the imperfect works of man; and their productions, though valuable in themselves, possess not the intrinsic worth of the more perfect works of nature; nor can they, therefore, produce those ennobling results which the study of the latter is calculated to afford. The works of man bear with them the characteristics of man, and partake of his imperfections: yet, it is natural for us to feel an interest in them, as affording proof of the industry and skill of our fellow-creatures: but the works of nature bear the stamp and impress of the great and perfect Being who made man, and they, consequently, partake of the perfect nature of their divine Author.
Among the numberless objects of creation, which invite our contemplation, and afford overpowering evidence of their divine Creator, there are none more worthily adapted to occupy our time than the STARRY Heavens, including a general survey of the arrangement and mechanism of the wondrous system of worlds, of which our Earth forms but a part. We trust, therefore, that the reader, in devoting some of his hours of recreation to the perusal of the following pages, will become the more fully impressed with the feeling which prompted the exclamation of the inspired writer: “ The heavens. declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth his handywork."
It is necessary to state, that the present Volume includes several articles on POPULAR ASTRONOMY, which have already appeared in the Saturday Magazine; but, in order to suit the purposes of the present series, those articles have been remodelled, partly rewritten, and considerably extended.
SALISBURY, December, 1839.