THE TOTAL SOLAR ECLIPSE OF 1886.—Mr. W. H. Pickering, who observed the total solar eclipse of August 1886 at Grenada, W.I., communicates to Science, vol. x. No. 230, a brief account of his results, in order that it may be published in time to be of service to the observers of the approaching eclipse on August 18. It was found that, by using rapid gelatine plates, an exposure of one or two seconds was sufficient to show the details of the inner corona satisfactorily with an ordinary telescope-lens. With a portrait-lens, the ratio of whose aperture to its focus was as one to five, the same exposure showed the outer corona satisfactorily as far as a distance of 15′ to 30′ from the limb of the moon. Beyond that the light was very decidedly fainter, and was shown best by exposures of from eight to forty seconds. The corona showed the usual short rays proceeding from the sun's poles, and from the south-western quadrant a very conspicuous ray, appearing like a hollow cone, projected to a distance of about 20′. A number of prominences were seen near the equator, on both sides of the moon; but the most conspicuous one was situated in the north-western quadrant. It extended to the height of about 100,000 miles, and had apparently a somewhat spiral structure. The spectra of the various prominences were shown very clearly by the prismatic camera. In the equatorial ones the hydrogen and H and K lines were prominent, superposed on a background of continuous spectrum; but in the large prominence the hydrogen lines were absent, although the H and K lines were strongly marked. The position of the maximum density in the continuous spectrum of the prominences was found to be quite different from that of the corona; in the former it is not far from G, whilst in the latter it lies between G and F. A large number of persons observed the shadow-bands, which appeared before and after totality. The general result of their observations indicated that the bands were about 5 inches wide and 8 inches apart, that they were coloured like the spectrum, and that they moved with a velocity comparable with that of an express train; at all events much faster than a man could run. Before totality the bands lay N. 12° W. and S. 12° E., and travelled west; after totality they lay N. 60° E. and S. 60° W., and travelled north-west.
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Our Astronomical Column . Nature 36, 308 (1887). https://doi.org/10.1038/036308a0