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DISTRICT OF MASSACHUSETTS, TO WIT.
BE it remembered, that on the eleventh day of November, A. D. 1830, in the fiftyfifth year of the Independence of the United States of America, Gray & Bowen, of the said district, have deposited in this office the title of a book, the right whereof they claim as proprietors, in the words following, to wit:—“The American Almanac and Repository of Useful Knowledge, for the Year 1831.” In conformity to the act of the Congress of the United States, entitled “An act for the encouragement of learning, . securing the copies of maps, charts, and books, to the authors and proprietors of suc copies, during the times therein mentioned”; and also to an act, entitled “An act supplementary to an act, entitled, ‘An act for the encouragement of learning, by securing the copies of maps, charts, and books to the authors and proprietors of such copies, during the times therein mentioned,’ and extending the benefits thereof to the arts of designing, engraving, and etching historical and other prints.”
JNO. W. DAVIS,
Clerk of the District of Massachusetts.
cAMeridge : PRINTED BY E. we MEtcALF AND company, Printers to the University.
“THE main object of this work,” as was stated in the first volume, “is utility.” The Conductors engaged in the design under the impression that such a work was wanted by a numerous class in the community, and that, if well executed, it would meet with a good degree of success; and they have been gratified by the manner in which their attempt has been received. In this volume the general character and design of the work remain unaltered; though the plan has been, in some particulars, changed. The first volume was divided into five parts; but the contents of this, though embracing as great a variety of subjects, have been formed into two general divisions, the First Part comprising the topics corresponding to those of the first two parts of the former volume, and the Second Part, the topics corresponding to those of the other three parts. For explanations respecting the astronomical department, the reader is referred to the Preliminary Observations of Mr. Paine, who has executed this portion with great labor and ability. The large space occupied by the numerous and interesting details relating to the great eclipse of the 12th of February, has rendered it necessary to postpone several articles corresponding to those of the second part of the first volume. The Second Part of the present volume is particularly characized by containing a view of the general and state governments, the constitution of the United States, the executive government, the national legislature and judiciary, outlines of the constitutions of the several states, and complete lists of their governors from the first organization of the respective governments. This information is of permanent value, and will be useful, for reference, at any future period; but that portion of it which is unchangeable, having now been inserted in this volume, will not need to be repeated in the volumes which may follow. The plan adopted with respect to the articles relating to the several states has left less space than could be wished for the notice of foreign countries; and although the information given respecting them will probably not be deemed an unimportant part of
the volume, yet it is less full than was intended: other useful matter has also been omitted for want of room. It is impossible to give a complete enumeration of the sources from which information has been derived; some of the principal ones, relating to foreign countries, are the English Royal Kalendar, the Englishman's Almanac, the British Almanac and Companion, the Almanach de Gotha, the Genealogischer-Historischerund-Statistischer Almanach, published at Weimar, and various journals; relating to our own country, the Laws of the United States, the Journal of the Executive Proceedings of the Senate, Official Documents of the General Government, the Register of Officers and Agents in the Service of the United States, the Directory of the Twenty-first Congress, the National Calendar, the Constitutions of the several states, the American, Historical, Chronological, and Geographical Atlas, works on the History and Geography of the different states, the Quarterly Journal of the American Education Society, Hazard's Register of Pennsylvania, Niles's Register, the State Registers of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, and New York, a variety of journals and other publications, together with private correspondence with gentlemen of every state in the Union. To those who have been so good as to communicate information, the Conductors return their grateful acknowledgments. A full view of the Fifth Census of the United States will form an important article in the next volume. Though our own country must hold a prominent place in every number, yet copious details respecting foreign countries may be occasionally expected; also essays on interesting subjects of a scientific and practical nature; notices of important discoveries and useful inventions; views of the state and progress of education; and accounts of the proceedings of benevolent societies and associations for promoting religion, learning, philanthropy, and moral civilization. The Conductors take the liberty to request the purchasers of this volume to preserve it, as belonging to a series of volumes which, should they be able to execute their design, will be diversified in their contents, and embody such a variety of valuable matter as to form a library of useful knowledge, exhibiting the most important facts of contemporary history, the statistics of the globe, views of the state and progress of society, and miscellaneous information on the different departments of human knowledge and active life. Cambridge, Nov. 15, 1830. The CoNDUCTors. PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS ON THE ASTRONOMICAL DEPARTMENT.
THE year 1831 is peculiarly distinguished for phenomena worthy of the attention of the astronomers of the United States. The eclipse on the twelfth of February is the first of a very remarkable series of five large eclipses of the sun, visible to us in the short term of seven years. The others happen as follows; the first on the 27th of July, 1832, total in Cuba; the second on the 30th of November, 1834, total in Charleston, Beaufort, &c., in South Carolina; the third on the 15th of May, 1836, annular near Cuba; and the fourth on the 18th of September, 1838, annular in three fifths of the States of the Union. The eclipse of the present year, taking place near noon, will of course attract great attention. Should the sky be clear, at the time of the nearest approach of the centres of the Sun and Moon, much diminution of the light is not to be expected, probably not enough to render visible the planet Venus, then about 13 degrees east of the Sun; but a very considerable effect on the thermometer will doubtless be noticed; and, for half an hour, the power of a lens to produce combustion, by refracting the solar rays, will be entirely destroyed. If the day should be cloudy, the darkness will probably be complete. In the fourth page there is a representation of the appearance of the sun, at those places where he will be eclipsed centrally, and where about 114 digits on his south limb ; by inverting the volume, the lower figure becomes a representation of his appearance at those places (New Orleans, Mobile, Savannah, Charleston, &c.) where the eclipse will be of about the same magnitude on the north. The passage of the eclipse over the United States only, is represented in the map prefixed to the title-page; but a representation of the entire eclipse for the whole Earth may be easily obtained, by marking on a map of America and the contiguous oceans, the points passed over by the paths of the different digits, and connecting them by curve lines. After the second sheet had been printed, it was discovered that the phases of the eclipse at the city of Mobile, in the state of Alabama, had been omitted; they are therefore inserted here, viz. –
h. m. sec. h. m. sec. Beginning of the eclipse 9 50 4.0 M. 9 50 19.9 M. Greatest obscuration 11 27 15.8 11 27 15,8 Mean time Apparent conjunction 11 27 19.4 Il 27 194 t Mobile End of the eclipse 1 7 16.2 A, 1 6 59.3 A. * • Duration of the eclipse 3 17 12.2 3 16 39.4 J
The occultations this year are uncommonly numerous; and several a”
... . . . . . . . . . . .
years must elapse before as many eclipses of stars of the first magnitude, and of the principal planets, can again be expected. Particular mention has already been made of the most important use to which observations of eclipses of the sun, planets, and stars may be applied, viz. the determination of terrestrial longitude, which cannot be settled with equal precision, within the same space of time, in any other way. In the Almanac for 1832, all the occultations will be computed for Charleston, Washington and Boston. The catalogue of those eclipses of the satellites of Jupiter, which are visible in some part of the United States, has been continued, for the purpose of affording an easy inethod of determining the longitude, with a very considerable degree of precision. On the 37th page a recent discovery respecting these eclipses is noticed, viz. that they might be observed at sea with sufficient accuracy for nautical purposes. The discoverer remarks, “that as it is difficult to follow the satellite when the ship has much motion, it will be advisable for the observer to limit his attention to the times when the vessel is at the extremity of her roll or pitch. An attendant, with a watch, should note the time when the observer is certain he does see the satellite previous to immersion, and certain that he does not see it after immersion; the mean of these times should be taken for the true time. The power applied to the telescope should be about 45.” As the number of transit telescopes in the United States is very limited, the insertion of a catalogue of Moon-culininating stars was considered inexpedient at this time ; but it may appear in the next number, should the insertion be recommended. In the arrangement of the Calendar pages, there is but little alteration from that of the last year. The Equatorial Parallax and Semidiameter of the Moon have, however, been placed in the Appendix, and the beginning and end of twilight for every eighth day, and the distance of the centre of the Moon from the centre of the Earth, at each apogee and perigee, substituted. The beginning and end of twilight, and the rising and setting of the Sun and Moon, are given for five places in the United States, situated in different latitudes; the Almanac is thus adapted to the inhabitants of every part of the country, as these particulars depend simply on the latitude, and are wholly independent of the longitude. The column headed Boston, &c. will answer for all places north of latitude 41° 32', that is, British Continental North America, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, and Michigan; all but the southern extremity of New York and Rhode Island, the northern half of Connecticut, the northern third of Pennsylvania, the Connecticut Reserve in Ohio, and the northern extremities of Illinois and Indiana. The column headed JVew York, &c. is intended for places situated between latitude 41° 32' and 39° 48', that is, the southern extremities of New York and Rhode Island, all but the northern third of Pennsylvanian, all but the southern extremity of New Jersey, the central parts of Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana, and the northern third of Missouri. The column headed Washington, &c. may be used between latitude 39° 48' and 35° 52', that is, throughout Maryland, Virginia, Delaware, the District of Columbia, and Kentucky, the northern half of Tennessee, the southern extremity of New Jersey, the southern third of Ohio and Indiana, the southern half of Illinois, all but the northern third of Missouri, and the northern third of North Carolina and Arkansas. The column headed Charleston &c. is suited to places between latitude 35° 52' and 31°24', that is, South Carolina, all but the southern extrem