Annie and Walter Maunder: The heavens and their story

Annie and Walter Maunder published The heavens and their story in 1908. We present below an extract from the title page and from the Preface:


THE HEAVENS AND THEIR STORY

BY

ANNIE S. D. MAUNDER
HONORARY FELLOW OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF CANADA

AND

E. WALTER MAUNDER

SUPERINTENDENT OF THE SOLAR DEPARTMENT, ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH
FELLOW OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY
FOREIGN ASSOCIATE OF THE SOCIETA DEGLI SPETTROSCOPISTI ITALlANl
HONORARY FELLOW OF THE ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF CANADA

AUTHOR OF

'THE ROYAL OBSERVATORY, GREENWICH, ITS HISTORY AND WORK'
'ASTRONOMY WITHOUT A TELESCOPE, '
'THE ASTRONOMY OF THE BIBLE'

Preface

The present book, which stands in the joint names of my wife and myself, is almost wholly the work of my wife, as circumstances prevented my taking any further part in it soon after it was commenced.

It is not intended as a text-book to teach astronomy; it has rather been written with the hope that the reader may be drawn by it to study astronomy for himself. The old story tells us that King Alfred was first stirred up to a desire to learn to read by his mother showing him the pictures in a beautifully illuminated book. And so it has been our desire to point our readers to some of the pictures presented to us by the heavens, in the hope that they may desire to spell out their meaning for themselves.

For 'the heavens are telling' stories of interest, stories of wonder, if we but have the eyes to see and the ears to hear. It is not necessary to be a rich man, and to build a great observatory, in order to become an astronomer, There were great astronomers before ever the telescope was invented; there have been astronomers even in our own days, there are some still living, whose work needs no other instrument than their eyes.

In the first book we have dealt with some of the lessons - only with some of them - which the open heavens can teach us, if we watch them with attention and thought. With no telescope, with no apparatus, there is still much that we can learn. It is true that the particular lessons treated of in this book were all learned by our forefathers long ago. But it will be a real benefit to ourselves if we work them out afresh, and to anyone who has a soul capable of appreciating the wonder and beauty of Nature in her sublimest aspect, it cannot fail to be the source of real pleasure.

In the second book, a few - only a very few - of the lessons which we have learned concerning the sun, by means of the telescope, the spectroscope, and photography, are touched upon; particularly with regard to the question so often asked nowadays whether sunspots have any influence on the earth. The third book is devoted to a few particulars respecting the planets and other members of the solar system; the design being to point out wherein they differ from the world whereon we live. The concluding book touches lightly on the structure of the stellar universe, and is intended to suggest, rather than to describe, the vastness and mystery of that great starry system of which our sun and his family occupy a small and insignificant corner. We start, therefore, with a little plot of ground upon this earth of ours, and watching from thence the sun, moon, and stars circling round it, we learn that our earth is a vast globe floating unsupported in space. Next, we study the sun - that other vaster globe that lights and warms us. Then we look round on our companion worlds, also like ourselves dependent on the sun for light and heat, and find that there is not one that is probably the home of intelligent life. So far, we learn of the greatness of the earth and of its importance; last of all we go into the depths of space to learn how small it is, how insignificant.

St John's,
London S.E.,
September 1908


JOC/EFR November 2018

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http://www-history.mcs.st-andrews.ac.uk/Extras/Heavens_and_their_story.html