by N. Chidambaram Iyer | 1884 | 135,584 words | ISBN-13: 9788171104215
This page describes note regarding modern science on the subject of comets which is the second Appendix of the English translation of the Brihat-samhita. This work, written by Varahamihira in the 6th century, is classified as jyotisha literature, also known as Indian astronomy. It contains however, also content regarding astrology, palmistry, agriculture, gardening, perfumes, medicines and various other encyclopedic topics.
Note: This appendix is extract from chapter eleven of the Bṛhat-saṃhita.
“What then is a comet according to the latest scientific researches? The spectroscope has pretty well solved the query. It consists, first, of a more or less solid nucleus on fire, blazing and glowing; second, of vast masses of incandescent gas, constituting the luminous head; third, solid materials, constituting the tail, which are ponderable, which reflect the Sun’s light and are carried along by the influence of the nucleus; fourth, an immense prolongation of the tail in the nature of attenuated volumes of gas. The solid materials of comet, it is believed, consist of stones and sand, particles ground by ceaseless attrition. The proof of this is the concession of most astronomers that meteoric showers are shreds and patches of cometic matter, dropped from the tail, and these meteors are stones. The genesis of comets is found to be in the explosion of planetary bodies, a theory not without good scientific authority.”
“Arago estimates that there are 17,000,000 of these fiery wanderers within the orbit of Neptune, and Lambert regards 500,000,000 as a moderate estimate for those in the Solar System. All the astronomers agree that they are scattered through space as profusely as the fish in the seas. The orbit of the Earth is over-whelmed in a fine network of cometary orbits, and our globe is like a lost child in a forest full of wild beasts.”