Thursday, February 10, 2011

How far away is the sun?

Thur. 10 Feb 1757 At the request of the author I took some pains in correcting an ingenious book, shortly to be published. But the more I consider them, the more I doubt of all systems of astronomy. I doubt whether we can certainly know either the distance or magnitude of any star in the firmament. Else why do astronomers so immensely differ, even with regard to the distance of the sun from the earth? Some affirming it to be only three, others ninety, millions of miles!
About this time the following note was given into my hand at Wapping:
John White, master at arms, aboard his Majesty’s ship Tartar, now at Plymouth, desires to return Almighty God thanks for himself and all the ship’s company, for their preservation in four different engagements they have had with four privateers which they have taken, particularly the last, wherein the enemy first boarded them. They cleared the deck, boarded in their turn, and took the ship, thirty of the enemy being killed, and fifty more wounded. Only two of our crew were wounded, who, it is hoped, will recover.

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