The object of this book is to give an account of the science of Astronomy, as it is known at the present day, in a manner acceptable to the general reader.
It is too often supposed that it is impossible to acquire any useful knowledge of Astronomy without much laborious study, and without adventuring into quite a new world of thought. The reasoning applied to the study of the celestial orbs is, however, of no different order from that which is employed in the affairs of everyday life. The science of mathematics is perhaps responsible for the idea that some kind of difference does exist; but mathematical processes are, in effect, no more than ordinary logic in concentrated form, the shorthand of reasoning, so to speak. I have attempted in the following pages to take the main facts and theories of Astronomy out of those mathematical forms which repel the general reader, and to present them in the ordinary language of our workaday world.
The few diagrams introduced are altogether supplementary, and are not connected with the text by any wearying cross-references. Each diagram is complete in itself, being intended to serve as a pictorial aid, in case the wording of the text should not have perfectly conveyed the desired meaning. The full page illustrations are also described as adequately as possible at the foot of each.
As to the coloured frontispiece, this must be placed in a category by itself. It is the work of the artist as distinct from the scientist.
The book itself contains incidentally a good deal of matter concerned with the Astronomy of the past, the introduction of which has been found necessary in order to make clearer the Astronomy of our time.