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A classic work of astronomy, featuring some of the following topics: The strange unfixedness of the ``fixed stars,'' the vast migrations of the suns and worlds constituting the universe. The slow passing out of existence of those collocations of stars which for thousands of years have formed famous ``constellations,'' preserving the memory of mythological heroes and heroines, and perhaps of otherwise unrecorded history. The tendency of stars to assemble in immense clouds, swarms, and clusters. The existence in some of the richest regions of the universe of absolutely black, starless gaps, deeps, or holes, as if one were looking out of a window into the murkiest night. The marvelous phenomena of new, or temporary, stars, which appear as suddenly as conflagrations, and often turn into something else as eccentric as themselves. The amazing forms of the ``whirlpool,'' ``spiral,'' ``pinwheel,'' and ``lace,'' or ``tress,'' nebulŠ. The strange surroundings of the sun, only seen in particular circumstances, but evidently playing a constant part in the daily phenomena of the solar system. The mystery of the Zodiacal Light and the Gegenschein. The extraordinary transformations undergone by comets and their tails. The prodigies of meteorites and masses of stone and metal fallen from the sky. The cataclysms that have wrecked the moon. The problem of life and intelligence on the planet Mars. The problematical origin and fate of the asteroids. The strange phenomena of the auroral lights.
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Garrett Putnam Serviss (March 24, 1851–May 25, 1929) was an astronomer, popularizer of astronomy, and early science fiction writer. Serviss was born in upstate New York, and majored in science at Cornell. He took a law degree at Columbia, but never worked as an attorney.
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