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Nature volume 25, pages 566567 | Download Citation



A SYSTEMATIC SEARCH FOR COMETS.—The necessity of a more rigorous and systematic examination of the heavens with the view to the early discovery of telescopic comets has been somewhat forcibly exemplified of late years, and it is satisfactory to learn that American observers are taking the initiative vigorously in this direction. A partial arrangement for regular sweeping has been made, and is detailed in a circular issued from the office of the Science Observer, in which also further cooperation is invited, and it is to be hoped that amateurs here with the necessary instruments, and time at command, will actively second the efforts that are being made in the United States, to further our knowledge of these, as yet, in a cosmical sense at least, problematical bodies. Mr. W. F. Denning, of Bristol, after proving his extraordinary patience and perseverance in the observation of meteors, and who has done excellent work in that class of observation, has for some months instituted a search for comets in such quarters of the sky as his position best commanded, and has made, as we know, a most notable beginning by the detection of the comet of short period, which astronomers will recognise in future as “Denning's comet.” He has kindly afforded us an opportunity of perusing a letter addressed to him by Mr. J. Ritchie, jun., of Boston, U.S., from which we may be pardoned for making the following extract:—“We wish it understood that although from the circumstances of the organisation, the majority of observers are here in this country, still we do not wish to make anything exclusive or national about it, and are simply after the most scientific ways of doing certain things, and are ready to receive that advice which the experience of others renders them competent to give.” Mr. Denning has found a coadjutor to divide with him the examination of the eastern sky in the morning hours, and there should be little difficulty in arranging for other amateurs here to take part in an evening search. Two or more observers in the other hemisphere will be needed to complete the regular scrutiny of the whole sky, and we do not anticipate that the scheme will be rendered imperfect for want of them.

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