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The Call of the CanyonThe Chronicles of Narnia

THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF STARS
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THE CHILDREN'S BOOK OF STARS

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It is a curious fact that when we are used to things, we often do not notice them, and things which we do every day cease to attract our attention. We find an instance of this in the curious change that comes over objects the further they are removed from us. They grow smaller and smaller, so that at a distance a grown-up person looks no larger than a doll; and a short stick planted in the ground only a few feet away appears as long as a much longer one at ten times the distance. This process is going on all round us every minute: houses, trees, buildings, animals, all seem larger or smaller in proportion to their distance from us. Sometimes I have seen a row of rain[Pg 2]drops hanging on a bar by the window. When the sun catches one of them, it shines so brilliantly that it is as dazzling as a star; but my sense tells me it is a raindrop, and not a star at all. It is only because it is so near it seems as bright and important as a mighty star very, very far away.

We are so much accustomed to this fact that we get into a habit of judging the distance of things by their size. If we see two lights shining on a dark night, and one is much larger than the other, we think that the bright one must be nearer to us; yet it need not necessarily be so, for the two lights might possibly be at the same distance from us, and one be large and the other small. There is no way in which we can tell the truth by just looking at them. Now, if we go out on any fine moonlight night and look up at the sky, we shall see one object there apparently much larger than any other, and that is the moon, so the question that occurs to us at once is, Is the moon really very much larger than any of the stars, or does it only seem so because it is very much nearer to us? As a matter of fact, the moon is one of the smallest objects in view, only, as it is our nearest neighbour, it appears very conspicuous. Having learned this, we shall probably look about to see what else there is to attract attention, and we may notice one star shining very brilliantly, almost like a little lamp, rather low down in the sky, in that part of it where the sun has lately set. It is so beautifully bright that it makes all the others look insignificant in comparison, yet it is not really large compared with the others, only, as it comes nearer to us than anything else in the sky except the moon, it looks larger than it has any right to do in comparison with the others.

 

87 pages





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