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First Meeting of the Lunar Section (1895)

Brief mention of this report is made in the 1895 Transactions, p.52. This report appears in full in the APST Minute Book for 1895, pp.2-4.

The Lunar Section of this Society, on the evening of Tuesday, the 2nd of July, held its first meeting for the Summer in the grounds of the Toronto Observatory which had kindly been thrown open by the Director, Mr. R.F. Stupart, who, with the assistance of Mr. W. Menzies, and Mr. F.L. Blake, of the Observatory Staff, contributed, in a marked degree to the success of the night's work. The attendance of members and others was very gratifying and deep interest was manifested by everyone. In addition to the fine 6-in. Cooke refractor of the Observatory, which was available during the evening, the following telescopes had been set up on the lawn:—3-in. Wray, by Mr. Andrew Elvins; 3-in. Vion Frères, by Dr. A.D. Watson; 3-in. Bardou, by Mr. Chalres Foster; 2-¾ in. Vion Frères, by Dr. A.D. Watson; 3-in. Bardou by Mr. Charles Foster; 2-¾ in. Vion Frères, by Mr. Thomas Lindsay; 72-in. focus glass of small aperture by Mr. G.G. Pursey; a 6-in. reflector, by Messrs. J.R. and Zoe M. Collins, who had made the instrument and stand throughout, and a 10 in. With-Browning reflector, by the undersigned.

Though the earlier portion of the day had been perfect for observational work, the sky, especially during the later afternoon hours, had become cloudy and hazy. Towards 8 o'clock, however, the sky cleared up and was in fair condition until observation ceased at 11 o'clock. The Moon, being in the eighth day of her age, was in an interesting phase and presented under most favourable conditions, many subjects for study and examination. To several of these subjects especial attention was paid, as they were selected types of characteristic lunar surface markings. Among these was Mare Crisium, as a typical sea, the Alps, as a typical mountain range, the Great Valley of the Alps, typical of those excoriations on the surface possibly indicative of the action of rapidly flowing water; Plato, typical of walled plains of the circular order; Copernicus, typical of the great craters with central mountains; Clavius, typical of vast irregular walled plains, containing craters, themselves of considerable size, and numerous craterlets; Theophilus, Cyrillus and Catherine, typical of great heights and depths and of crater-walls broken away on the side of seas by the apparent action of water, and last, but entirely as a popular optical illusion, the play of light and shade upon the hills fringing Sinus Iridum, so as to present the spectre commonly known as The Moon Maid, whose head is formed by Cape Heraclides.

Among other celestial objects examined were the planets Venus, whose polar-cap was shown by Mr. Elvins to those who looked through his telescope armed with a very high power, and Saturn, which was seen to good advantage, one telescope showing four moons. The Pole Star, Cor Caroli, Mizar and Alcor, Vega, Beta Cygni and other stars were shown by request.

Among the visitors present, was Mr. Saunders, Professor of Physics in Hamilton College, and Director of the Smith Observatory, Clinton, New York, an Observatory possessing a fine equipment including three telescopes, one of them a 13 in. refractor. This Observatory was the scene of the labours of the late Dr. Peters who paid steadfast attention to sunspots for many years. Professor Saunders' object in visiting Toronto was to consult the magnetic records at the Observatory here, with a view to comparison being made between them and Dr. Peters' drawing and observations, for the purpose of ascertaining the relationship, if any, between sunspots and magnetic disturbances. The Professor's work being along the lines of investigation recently taken up by this Society in respect of earth currents, his conclusions will be awaited with some interest and may, it is hoped, in a short time, be communicated to the Committee on this subject.

Owing to a fine sky, the presence of eight telescopes, a large attendance and the interest manifested in the night's work, the first meeting of the Lunar Section may be regarded as both successful and encouraging. Indeed, so intent were those present upon the pleasures of observation, that a paper entitled "The Present Condition, and One Step in the History of the Moon," especially prepared by Mr. Elvins, had to be postponed for the purpose of being read this evening to the Society, a distinction it well merits as it deals with the subject in a popular vein and evolves a theory as regards the possible causes of the disappearance of water and air from the side of the Moon visible to us. The paper is herewith laid before the Society.

Respectfully submitted.
(signed G.E. Lumsden)
Director, the Lunar Section.