Part 5 out of 7
at departure, and our bullet started with that velocity only!"
"Well?" asked Nicholl.
"Why it was not enough!"
"We shall not reach the neutral point."
"We shall not even go half way!"
"_Nom d'un boulet_!" exclaimed Michel Ardan, jumping up as if the
projectile were on the point of striking against the terrestrial globe.
"And we shall fall back upon the earth!"
THE TEMPERATURE OF SPACE.
This revelation acted like a thunderbolt. Who could have expected such
an error in calculation? Barbicane would not believe it. Nicholl went
over the figures again. They were correct. The formula which had
established them could not be mistrusted, and, when verified, the
initial velocity of 16,576 metres, necessary for attaining the neutral
point, was found quite right.
The three friends looked at one another in silence. No one thought about
breakfast after that. Barbicane, with set teeth, contracted brow, and
fists convulsively closed, looked through the port-light. Nicholl
folded his arms and examined his calculations. Michel Ardan murmured--
"That's just like _savants_! That's the way they always do! I would give
twenty pistoles to fall upon the Cambridge Observatory and crush it,
with all its stupid staff inside!"
All at once the captain made a reflection which struck Barbicane at
"Why," said he, "it is seven o'clock in the morning, so we have been
thirty-two hours on the road. We have come more than half way, and we
are not falling yet that I know of!"
Barbicane did not answer, but after a rapid glance at the captain he
took a compass, which he used to measure the angular distance of the
terrestrial globe. Then through the lower port-light he made a very
exact observation from the apparent immobility of the projectile. Then
rising and wiping the perspiration from his brow, he put down some
figures upon paper. Nicholl saw that the president wished to find out
from the length of the terrestrial diameter the distance of the bullet
from the earth. He looked at him anxiously.
"No!" cried Barbicane in a few minutes' time, "we are not falling! We
are already more than 50,000 leagues from the earth! We have passed the
point the projectile ought to have stopped at if its speed had been only
11,000 metres at our departure! We are still ascending!"
"That is evident," answered Nicholl; "so we must conclude that our
initial velocity, under the propulsion of the 400,000 lbs. of
gun-cotton, was greater than the 11,000 metres. I can now explain to
myself why we met with the second satellite, that gravitates at more
than 2,000 leagues from the earth, in less than thirteen minutes."
"That explanation is so much the more probable," added Barbicane,
"because by throwing out the water in our movable partitions the
projectile was made considerably lighter all at once."
"That is true," said Nicholl.
"Ah, my brave Nicholl," cried Barbicane, "we are saved!"
"Very well then," answered Michel Ardan tranquilly, "as we are saved,
let us have breakfast."
Nicholl was not mistaken. The initial speed had happily been greater
than that indicated by the Cambridge Observatory, but the Cambridge
Observatory had no less been mistaken.
The travellers, recovered from their false alarm, sat down to table and
breakfasted merrily. Though they ate much they talked more. Their
confidence was greater after the "algebra incident."
"Why should we not succeed?" repeated Michel Ardan. "Why should we not
arrive? We are on the road; there are no obstacles before us, and no
stones on our route. It is free--freer than that of a ship that has to
struggle with the sea, or a balloon with the wind against it! Now if a
ship can go where it pleases, or a balloon ascend where it pleases, why
should not our projectile reach the goal it was aimed at?"
"It will reach it," said Barbicane.
"If only to honour the American nation," added Michel Ardan, "the only
nation capable of making such an enterprise succeed--the only one that
could have produced a President Barbicane! Ah! now I think of it, now
that all our anxieties are over, what will become of us? We shall be as
dull as stagnant water."
Barbicane and Nicholl made gestures of repudiation.
"But I foresaw this, my friends," resumed Michel Ardan. "You have only
to say the word. I have chess, backgammon, cards, and dominoes at your
disposition. We only want a billiard-table!"
"What?" asked Barbicane, "did you bring such trifles as those?"
"Certainly," answered Michel; "not only for our amusement, but also in
the praiseworthy intention of bestowing them upon Selenite inns."
"My friend," said Barbicane, "if the moon is inhabited its inhabitants
appeared some thousands of years before those of the earth, for it
cannot be doubted that the moon is older than the earth. If, therefore,
the Selenites have existed for thousands of centuries--if their brains
are organised like that of human beings--they have invented all that we
have invented, already, and even what we shall only invent in the lapse
of centuries. They will have nothing to learn from us, and we shall have
everything to learn from them."
"What!" answered Michel, "do you think they have had artists like
Phidias, Michael Angelo, or Raphael?"
"Poets like Homer, Virgil, Milton, Lamartine, and Hugo?"
"I am sure of it."
"Philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Descartes, and Kant?"
"I have no doubt of it."
"_Savants_ like Archimedes, Euclid, Pascal, and Newton?"
"I could swear it."
"Clowns like Arnal, and photographers like--Nadar?"
"I am certain of it."
"Then, friend Barbicane, if these Selenites are as learned as we, and
even more so, why have they not hurled a lunar projectile as far as the
"Who says they have not done it?" answered Barbicane seriously.
"In fact," added Nicholl, "it would have been easier to them than to us,
and that for two reasons--the first because the attraction is six times
less on the surface of the moon than on the surface of the earth, which
would allow a projectile to go up more easily; secondly the projectile
would only have 8,000 leagues to travel instead of 80,000, which would
require a force of propulsion ten times less."
"Then," resumed Michel, "I repeat--why have they not done it?"
"And I," replied Barbicane, "I repeat--who says they have not done it?"
"Hundreds of centuries ago, before man's appearance upon earth."
"And the bullet? Where is the bullet? I ask to see the bullet!"
"My friend," answered Barbicane, "the sea covers five-sixths of our
globe, hence there are five good reasons for supposing that the lunar
projectile, if it has been fired, is now submerged at the bottom of the
Atlantic or Pacific, unless it was buried down some abyss at the epoch
when the earth's crust was not sufficiently formed."
"Old fellow," answered Michel, "you have an answer to everything, and I
bow before your wisdom. There is one hypothesis I would rather believe
than the others, and that is that the Selenites being older than we are
wiser, and have not invented gunpowder at all."
At that moment Diana claimed her share in the conversation by a sonorous
bark. She asked for her breakfast.
"Ah!" said Michel Ardan, "our arguments make us forget Diana and
A good dish of food was immediately offered to the dog, who devoured it
with great appetite.
"Do you know, Barbicane," said Michel, "we ought to have made this
projectile a sort of Noah's Ark, and have taken a couple of all the
domestic animals with us to the moon."
"No doubt," answered Barbicane, "but we should not have had room
"Oh, we might have been packed a little tighter!"
"The fact is," answered Nicholl, "that oxen, cows, bulls, and horses,
all those ruminants would be useful on the lunar continent.
Unfortunately we cannot make our projectile either a stable or a
"But at least," said Michel Ardan, "we might have brought an ass,
nothing but a little ass, the courageous and patient animal old Silenus
loved to exhibit. I am fond of those poor asses! They are the least
favoured animals in creation. They are not only beaten during their
lifetime, but are still beaten after their death!"
"What do you mean by that?" asked Barbicane.
"Why, don't they use his skin to make drums of?"
Barbicane and Nicholl could not help laughing at this absurd reflection.
But a cry from their merry companion stopped them; he was bending over
Satellite's niche, and rose up saying--
"Good! Satellite is no longer ill."
"Ah!" said Nicholl.
"No!" resumed Michel, "he is dead. Now," he added in a pitiful tone,
"this will be embarrassing! I very much fear, poor Diana, that you will
not leave any of your race in the lunar regions!"
The unfortunate Satellite had not been able to survive his wounds. He
was dead, stone dead. Michel Ardan, much put out of countenance, looked
at his friends.
"This makes another difficulty," said Barbicane. "We can't keep the dead
body of this dog with us for another eight-and-forty hours."
"No, certainly not," answered Nicholl, "but our port-lights are hung
upon hinges. They can be let down. We will open one of them, and throw
the body into space."
The president reflected for a few minutes, and then said--
"Yes, that is what we must do, but we must take the most minute
"Why?" asked Michel.
"For two reasons that I will explain to you," answered Barbicane. "The
first has reference to the air in the projectile, of which we must lose
as little as possible."
"But we can renew the air!"
"Not entirely. We can only renew the oxygen, Michel; and, by-the-bye, we
must be careful that the apparatus do not furnish us with this oxygen in
an immoderate quantity, for an excess of it would cause grave
physiological consequences. But although we can renew the oxygen we
cannot renew the azote, that medium which the lungs do not absorb, and
which ought to remain intact. Now the azote would rapidly escape if the
port-lights were opened."
"Not just the time necessary to throw poor Satellite out."
"Agreed; but we must do it quickly."
"And what is the second reason?" asked Michel.
"The second reason is that we must not allow the exterior cold, which is
excessive, to penetrate into our projectile lest we should be frozen
"Still the sun--"
"The sun warms our projectile because it absorbs its rays, but it does
not warm the void we are in now. When there is no air there is no more
heat than there is diffused light, and where the sun's rays do not reach
directly it is both dark and cold. The temperature outside is only that
produced by the radiation of the stars--that is to say, the same as the
temperature of the terrestrial globe would be if one day the sun were to
"No fear of that," answered Nicholl.
"Who knows?" said Michel Ardan. "And even supposing that the sun be not
extinguished, it might happen that the earth will move farther away from
"Good!" said Nicholl; "that's one of Michel's ideas!"
"Well," resumed Michel, "it is well known that in 1861 the earth went
through the tail of a comet. Now suppose there was a comet with a power
of attraction greater than that of the sun, the terrestrial globe might
make a curve towards the wandering star, and the earth would become its
satellite, and would be dragged away to such a distance that the rays of
the sun would have no action on its surface."
"That might happen certainly," answered Barbicane, "but the consequences
would not be so redoubtable as you would suppose."
"Because heat and cold would still be pretty well balanced upon our
globe. It has been calculated that if the earth had been carried away by
the comet of 1861, it would only have felt, when at its greatest
distance from the sun, a heat sixteen times greater than that sent to us
by the moon--a heat which, when focussed by the strongest lens, produces
no appreciable effect."
"Well?" said Michel.
"Wait a little," answered Barbicane. "It has been calculated that at its
perihelion, when nearest to the sun, the earth would have borne a heat
equal to 28,000 times that of summer. But this heat, capable of
vitrifying terrestrial matters, and of evaporating water, would have
formed a thick circle of clouds which would have lessened the excessive
heat, hence there would be compensation between the cold of the aphelion
and the heat of the perihelion, and an average probably supportable."
"At what number of degrees do they estimate the temperature of the
"Formerly," answered Barbicane, "it was believed that this temperature
was exceedingly low. By calculating its thermometric diminution it was
fixed at millions of degrees below zero. It was Fourier, one of Michel's
countrymen, an illustrious _savant_ of the _Academie des Sciences_, who
reduced these numbers to a juster estimation. According to him, the
temperature of space does not get lower than 60 deg. Centigrade."
"It is about the temperature of the polar regions," answered Barbicane,
"at Melville Island or Fort Reliance--about 56 deg. Centigrade below zero."
"It remains to be proved," said Nicholl, "that Fourier was not mistaken
in his calculations. If I am not mistaken, another Frenchman, M.
Pouillet, estimates the temperature of space at 160 deg. below zero. We
shall be able to verify that."
"Not now," answered Barbicane, "for the solar rays striking directly
upon our thermometer would give us, on the contrary, a very elevated
temperature. But when we get upon the moon, during the nights, a
fortnight long, which each of its faces endures alternately, we shall
have leisure to make the experiment, for our satellite moves in the
"What do you mean by the void?" asked Michel; "is it absolute void?"
"It is absolutely void of air."
"Is there nothing in its place?"
"Yes, ether," answered Barbicane.
"Ah! and what is ether?"
"Ether, my friend, is an agglomeration of imponderable particles, which,
relatively to their dimensions, are as far removed from each other as
the celestial bodies are in space, so say works on molecular physics. It
is these atoms that by their vibrating movement produce light and heat
by making four hundred and thirty billions of oscillations a second."
"Millions of millions!" exclaimed Michel Ardan; "then _savants_ have
measured and counted these oscillations! All these figures, friend
Barbicane, are _savants'_ figures, which reach the ear but say nothing
to the mind."
"But they are obliged to have recourse to figures."
"No. It would be much better to compare. A billion signifies nothing. An
object of comparison explains everything. Example--When you tell me that
Uranus is 76 times larger than the earth, Saturn 900 times larger,
Jupiter 1,300 times larger, the sun 1,300,000 times larger, I am not
much wiser. So I much prefer the old comparisons of the _Double
Liegoise_ that simply tells you, 'The sun is a pumpkin two feet in
diameter, Jupiter an orange, Saturn a Blenheim apple, Neptune a large
cherry, Uranus a smaller cherry, the earth a pea, Venus a green pea,
Mars the head of a large pin, Mercury a grain of mustard, and Juno,
Ceres, Vesta, and Pallas fine grains of sand!' Then I know what it
After this tirade of Michel Ardan's against _savants_ and their
billions, which he delivered without stopping to take breath, they set
about burying Satellite. He was to be thrown into space like sailors
throw a corpse into the sea.
As President Barbicane had recommended, they had to act quickly so as to
lose as little air as possible. The bolts upon the right-hand port-hole
were carefully unscrewed, and an opening of about half a yard made,
whilst Michel prepared to hurl his dog into space. The window, worked by
a powerful lever, which conquered the pressure of air in the interior
upon the sides of the projectile, moved upon its hinges, and Satellite
was thrown out. Scarcely a particle of air escaped, and the operation
succeeded so well that later on Barbicane did not fear to get rid of all
the useless rubbish that encumbered the vehicle in the same way.
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS.
On the 4th of December, at 5 a.m. by terrestrial reckoning, the
travellers awoke, having been fifty-four hours on their journey. They
had only been five hours and forty minutes more than half the time
assigned for the accomplishment of their journey, but they had come more
than seven-tenths of the distance. This peculiarity was due to their
When they looked at the earth through the port-light at the bottom, it
only looked like a black spot drowned in the sun's rays. No crescent or
pale light was now to be seen. The next day at midnight the earth would
be new at the precise moment when the moon would be full. Above, the
Queen of Night was nearing the line followed by the projectile, so as to
meet it at the hour indicated. All around the dark vault was studded
with brilliant specks which seemed to move slowly; but through the great
distance they were at their relative size did not seem to alter much.
The sun and the stars appeared exactly as they do from the earth. The
moon was considerably enlarged; but the travellers' not very powerful
telescopes did not as yet allow them to make very useful observations on
her surface, or to reconnoitre the topographical or geological details.
The time went by in interminable conversations. The talk was especially
about the moon. Each brought his contingent of particular knowledge.
Barbicane's and Nicholl's were always serious, Michel Ardan's always
fanciful. The projectile, its situation and direction, the incidents
that might arise, the precautions necessitated by its fall upon the
moon, all this afforded inexhaustible material for conjecture.
Whilst breakfasting a question of Michel's relative to the projectile
provoked a rather curious answer from Barbicane, and one worthy of being
Michel, supposing the bullet to be suddenly stopped whilst still endowed
with its formidable initial velocity, wished to know what the
consequences would have been.
"But," answered Barbicane, "I don't see how the projectile could have
"But let us suppose it," answered Nicholl.
"It is an impossible supposition," replied the practical president,
"unless the force of impulsion had failed. But in that case its speed
would have gradually decreased, and would not have stopped abruptly."
"Admit that it had struck against some body in space."
"The enormous meteor we met."
"Then," said Nicholl, "the projectile would have been broken into a
thousand pieces, and we with it."
"More than that," answered Barbicane, "we should have been burnt alive."
"Burnt!" exclaimed Michel. "I regret it did not happen for us just to
"And you would have seen with a vengeance," answered Barbicane. "It is
now known that heat is only a modification of movement when water is
heated--that is to say, when heat is added to it--that means the giving
of movement to its particles."
"That is an ingenious theory!" said Michel.
"And a correct one, my worthy friend, for it explains all the phenomena
of caloric. Heat is only molecular movement, a single oscillation of the
particles of a body. When the break is put on a train it stops. But what
becomes of the movement which animated it? Why do they grease the axles
of the wheels? In order to prevent them catching fire from the movement
lost by transformation. Do you understand?"
"Admirably," answered Michel. "For example, when I have been running
some time, and am covered with sweat, why am I forced to stop? Simply
because my movement has been transformed into heat."
Barbicane could not help laughing at this _repartie_ of Michel's. Then
resuming his theory--
"Thus," said he, "in case of a collision, it would have happened to our
projectile as it does to the metal cannon-ball after striking
armour-plate; it would fall burning, because its movement had been
transformed into heat. In consequence, I affirm that if our bullet had
struck against the asteroid, its speed, suddenly annihilated, would have
produced heat enough to turn it immediately into vapour."
"Then," asked Nicholl, "what would happen if the earth were to be
suddenly stopped in her movement of translation?"
"Her temperature would be carried to such a point," answered Barbicane,
"that she would be immediately reduced to vapour."
"Good," said Michel; "that means of ending the world would simplify many
"And suppose the earth were to fall upon the sun?" said Nicholl.
"According to calculations," answered Barbicane, "that would develop a
heat equal to that produced by 1,600 globes of coal, equal in volume to
the terrestrial globe."
"A good increase of temperature for the sun," replied Michel Ardan, "of
which the inhabitants of Uranus or Neptune will probably not complain,
for they must be dying of cold on their planet."
"Thus, then, my friends, any movement suddenly stopped produces heat.
This theory makes it supposed that the sun is constantly fed by an
incessant fall of bodies upon its surface. It has been calculated--"
"Now I shall be crushed," murmured Michel, "for figures are coming."
"It has been calculated," continued Barbicane imperturbably, "that the
shock of each asteroid upon the sun must produce heat equal to that of
4,000 masses of coal of equal volume."
"And what is the heat of the sun?" asked Michel.
"It is equal to that which would be produced by a stratum of coal
surrounding the sun to a depth of twenty-seven kilometres."
"And that heat--"
"Could boil 2,900,000,000 of cubic myriametres of water an hour." (A
myriametre is equal to rather more than 6.2138 miles, or 6 miles 1
furlong 28 poles.)
"And we are not roasted by it?" cried Michel.
"No," answered Barbicane, "because the terrestrial atmosphere absorbs
four-tenths of the solar heat. Besides, the quantity of heat intercepted
by the earth is only two thousand millionth of the total."
"I see that all is for the best," replied Michel, "and that our
atmosphere is a useful invention, for it not only allows us to breathe,
but actually prevents us roasting."
"Yes," said Nicholl, "but, unfortunately, it will not be the same on the
"Bah!" said Michel, always confident. "If there are any inhabitants they
breathe. If there are no longer any they will surely have left enough
oxygen for three people, if only at the bottom of those ravines where it
will have accumulated by reason of its weight! Well, we shall not climb
the mountains! That is all."
And Michel, getting up, went to look at the lunar disc, which was
shining with intolerable brilliancy.
"Faith!" said he, "it must be hot up there."
"Without reckoning," answered Nicholl, "that daylight lasts 360 hours."
"And by way of compensation night has the same duration," said
Barbicane, "and as heat is restored by radiation, their temperature must
be that of planetary space."
"A fine country truly!" said Nicholl.
"Never mind! I should like to be there already! It will be comical to
have the earth for a moon, to see it rise on the horizon, to recognise
the configuration of its continents, to say to oneself, 'There's America
and there's Europe;' then to follow it till it is lost in the rays of
the sun! By-the-bye, Barbicane, have the Selenites any eclipses?"
"Yes, eclipses of the sun," answered Barbicane, "when the centres of the
three stars are on the same line with the earth in the middle. But they
are merely annular eclipses, during which the earth, thrown like a
screen across the solar disc, allows the greater part to be seen."
"Why is there no total eclipse?" asked Nicholl. "Is it because the cone
of shade thrown by the earth does not extend beyond the moon?"
"Yes, if you do not take into account the refraction produced by the
terrestrial atmosphere, not if you do take that refraction into account.
Thus, let _delta_ be the horizontal parallax and _p_ the apparent
"Ouf!" said Michel, "half of _v_ zero square! Do speak the vulgar
tongue, man of algebra!"
"Well, then, in popular language," answered Barbicane, "the mean
distance between the moon and the earth being sixty terrestrial radii,
the length of the cone of shadow, by dint of refraction, is reduced to
less than forty-two radii. It follows, therefore, that during the
eclipses the moon is beyond the cone of pure shade, and the sun sends it
not only rays from its edges, but also rays from its centre."
"Then," said Michel in a grumbling tone, "why is there any eclipse when
there ought to be none?"
"Solely because the solar rays are weakened by the refraction, and the
atmosphere which they traverse extinguishes the greater part of them."
"That reason satisfies me," answered Michel; "besides, we shall see for
ourselves when we get there. Now, Barbicane, do you believe that the
moon is an ancient comet?"
"What an idea!"
"Yes," replied Michel, with amiable conceit, "I have a few ideas of that
"But that idea does not originate with Michel," answered Nicholl.
"Then I am only a plagiarist."
"Without doubt," answered Nicholl. "According to the testimony of the
ancients, the Arcadians pretended that their ancestors inhabited the
earth before the moon became her satellite. Starting from this fact,
certain _savants_ think the moon was a comet which its orbit one day
brought near enough to the earth to be retained by terrestrial
"And what truth is there in that hypothesis?" asked Michel.
"None," answered Barbicane, "and the proof is that the moon has not kept
a trace of the gaseous envelope that always accompanies comets."
"But," said Nicholl, "might not the moon, before becoming the earth's
satellite, have passed near enough to the sun to leave all her gaseous
substances by evaporation?"
"It might, friend Nicholl, but it is not probable."
"Because--because, I really don't know."
"Ah, what hundreds of volumes we might fill with what we don't know!"
exclaimed Michel. "But I say," he continued, "what time is it?"
"Three o'clock," answered Nicholl.
"How the time goes," said Michel, "in the conversation of _savants_ like
us! Decidedly I feel myself getting too learned! I feel that I am
becoming a well of knowledge!"
So saying, Michel climbed to the roof of the projectile, "in order
better to observe the moon," he pretended. In the meanwhile his
companions watched the vault of space through the lower port-light.
There was nothing fresh to signalise.
When Michel Ardan came down again he approached the lateral port-light,
and suddenly uttered an exclamation of surprise.
"What is the matter now?" asked Barbicane.
The president approached the glass and saw a sort of flattened sack
floating outside at some yards' distance from the projectile. This
object seemed motionless like the bullet, and was consequently animated
with the same ascensional movement.
"Whatever can that machine be?" said Michel Ardan. "Is it one of the
corpuscles of space which our projectile holds in its radius of
attraction, and which will accompany it as far as the moon?"
"What I am astonished at," answered Nicholl, "is that the specific
weight of this body, which is certainly superior to that of the bullet,
allows it to maintain itself so rigorously on its level."
"Nicholl," said Barbicane, after a moment's reflection, "I do not know
what that object is, but I know perfectly why it keeps on a level with
"Because we are floating in the void where bodies fall or move--which is
the same thing--with equal speed whatever their weight or form may be.
It is the air which, by its resistance, creates differences in weight.
When you pneumatically create void in a tube, the objects you throw down
it, either lead or feathers, fall with the same rapidity. Here in space
you have the same cause and the same effect."
"True," said Nicholl, "and all we throw out of the projectile will
accompany us to the moon."
"Ah! what fools we are!" cried Michel.
"Why this qualification?" asked Barbicane.
"Because we ought to have filled the projectile with useful objects,
books, instruments, tools, &c. We could have thrown them all out, and
they would all have followed in our wake! But, now I think of it, why
can't we take a walk outside this? Why can't we go into space through
the port-light? What delight it would be to be thus suspended in ether,
more favoured even than birds that are forced to flap their wings to
"Agreed," said Barbicane, "but how are we to breathe?"
"Confounded air to fail so inopportunely!"
"But if it did not fail, Michel, your density being inferior to that of
the projectile, you would soon remain behind."
"Then it is a vicious circle."
"All that is most vicious."
"And we must remain imprisoned in our vehicle."
"Yes, we must."
"Ah!" cried Michel in a formidable voice.
"What is the matter with you?" asked Nicholl.
"I know, I guess what this pretended asteroid is! It is not a broken
piece of planet!"
"What is it, then?" asked Nicholl.
"It is our unfortunate dog! It is Diana's husband!"
In fact, this deformed object, reduced to nothing, and quite
unrecognisable, was the body of Satellite flattened like a bagpipe
without wind, and mounting, for ever mounting!
A MOMENT OF INTOXICATION.
Thus a curious but logical, strange yet logical phenomenon took place
under these singular conditions. Every object thrown out of the
projectile would follow the same trajectory and only stop when it did.
That furnished a text for conversation which the whole evening could not
exhaust. The emotion of the three travellers increased as they
approached the end of their journey. They expected unforeseen incidents,
fresh phenomena, and nothing would have astonished them under present
circumstances. Their excited imagination outdistanced the projectile,
the speed of which diminished notably without their feeling it. But the
moon grew larger before their eyes, and they thought they had only to
stretch out their hands to touch it.
The next day, the 5th of December, they were all wide awake at 5 a.m.
That day was to be the last of their journey if the calculations were
exact. That same evening, at midnight, within eighteen hours, at the
precise moment of full moon, they would reach her brilliant disc. The
next midnight would bring them to the goal of their journey, the most
extraordinary one of ancient or modern times. At early dawn, through the
windows made silvery with her rays, they saluted the Queen of Night with
a confident and joyful hurrah.
The moon was sailing majestically across the starry firmament. A few
more degrees and she would reach that precise point in space where the
projectile was to meet her. According to his own observations, Barbicane
thought that he should accost her in her northern hemisphere, where vast
plains extend and mountains are rare--a favourable circumstance if the
lunar atmosphere was, according to received opinion, stored up in deep
"Besides," observed Michel Ardan, "a plain is more suitable for landing
upon than a mountain. A Selenite landed in Europe on the summit of Mont
Blanc, or in Asia on a peak of the Himalayas, would not be precisely at
"What is more," added Nicholl, "on a plain the projectile will remain
motionless after it has touched the ground, whilst it would roll down a
hill like an avalanche, and as we are not squirrels we should not come
out safe and sound. Therefore all is for the best."
In fact, the success of the audacious enterprise no longer appeared
doubtful. Still one reflection occupied Barbicane; but not wishing to
make his two companions uneasy, he kept silence upon it.
The direction of the projectile towards the northern hemisphere proved
that its trajectory had been slightly modified. The aim, mathematically
calculated, ought to have sent the bullet into the very centre of the
lunar disc. If it did not arrive there it would be because it had
deviated. What had caused it? Barbicane could not imagine nor determine
the importance of this deviation, for there was no datum to go upon. He
hoped, however, that the only result would be to take them towards the
upper edge of the moon, a more suitable region for landing.
Barbicane, therefore, without saying anything to his friends, contented
himself with frequently observing the moon, trying to see if the
direction of the projectile would not change. For the situation would
have been so terrible had the bullet, missing its aim, been dragged
beyond the lunar disc and fallen into interplanetary space.
At that moment the moon, instead of appearing flat like a disc, already
showed her convexity. If the sun's rays had reached her obliquely the
shadow then thrown would have made the high mountains stand out. They
could have seen the gaping craters and the capricious furrows that cut
up the immense plains. But all relief was levelled in the intense
brilliancy. Those large spots that give the appearance of a human face
to the moon were scarcely distinguishable.
"It may be a face," said Michel Ardan, "but I am sorry for the amiable
sister of Apollo, her face is so freckled!"
In the meantime the travellers so near their goal ceaselessly watched
this new world. Their imagination made them take walks over these
unknown countries. They climbed the elevated peaks. They descended to
the bottom of the large amphitheatres. Here and there they thought they
saw vast seas scarcely kept together under an atmosphere so rarefied,
and streams of water that poured them their tribute from the mountains.
Leaning over the abyss they hoped to catch the noise of this orb for
ever mute in the solitudes of the void.
This last day left them the liveliest remembrances. They noted down the
least details. A vague uneasiness took possession of them as they
approached their goal. This uneasiness would have been doubled if they
had felt how slight their speed was. It appeared quite insufficient to
take them to the end of their journey. This was because the projectile
scarcely "weighed" anything. Its weight constantly decreased, and would
be entirely annihilated on that line where the lunar and terrestrial
attractions neutralise each other, causing surprising effects.
Nevertheless, in spite of his preoccupations, Michel Ardan did not
forget to prepare the morning meal with his habitual punctuality. They
ate heartily. Nothing was more excellent than their broth liquefied by
the heat of the gas. Nothing better than these preserved meats. A few
glasses of good French wine crowned the repast, and caused Michel Ardan
to remark that the lunar vines, warmed by this ardent sun, ought to
distil the most generous wines--that is, if they existed. Any way, the
far-seeing Frenchman had taken care not to forget in his collection some
precious cuttings of the Medoc and Cote d'Or, upon which he counted
The Reiset and Regnault apparatus always worked with extreme precision.
The air was kept in a state of perfect purity. Not a particle of
carbonic acid resisted the potash, and as to the oxygen, that, as
Captain Nicholl said, was of "first quality." The small amount of
humidity in the projectile mixed with this air and tempered its dryness,
and many Paris, London, or New York apartments and many theatres do not
certainly fulfil hygienic conditions so well.
But in order to work regularly this apparatus had to be kept going
regularly. Each morning Michel inspected the escape regulators, tried
the taps, and fixed by the pyrometer the heat of the gas. All had gone
well so far, and the travellers, imitating the worthy J.T. Maston, began
to get so stout that they would not be recognisable if their
imprisonment lasted several months. They behaved like chickens in a
Looking through the port lights Barbicane saw the spectre of the
dog, and the different objects thrown out of the projectile, which
obstinately accompanied it. Diana howled lamentably when she perceived
the remains of Satellite. All the things seemed as motionless as if they
had rested upon solid ground.
"Do you know, my friends," said Michel Ardan, "that if one of us had
succumbed to the recoil shock at departure we should have been much
embarrassed as to how to get rid of him? You see the accusing corpse
would have followed us in space like remorse!"
"That would have been sad," said Nicholl.
"Ah!" continued Michel, "what I regret is our not being able to take a
walk outside. What delight it would be to float in this radiant ether,
to bathe in these pure rays of the sun! If Barbicane had only thought of
furnishing us with diving-dresses and air-pumps I should have ventured
outside, and have assumed the attitude of a flying-horse on the summit
of the projectile."
"Ah, old fellow!" answered Barbicane, "you would not have stayed there
long in spite of your diving-dress; you would have burst like an obus by
the expansion of air inside you, or rather like a balloon that goes up
too high. So regret nothing, and do not forget this: while we are moving
in the void you must do without any sentimental promenade out of the
Michel Ardan allowed himself to be convinced in a certain measure. He
agreed that the thing was difficult, but not "impossible;" that was a
word he never uttered.
The conversation passed from this subject to another, and never
languished an instant. It seemed to the three friends that under these
conditions ideas came into their heads like leaves in the first warm
days of spring.
Amidst the questions and answers that crossed each other during this
morning, Nicholl asked one that did not get an immediate solution.
"I say," said he, "it is all very well to go to the moon, but how shall
we get back again?"
"What do you mean by that, Nicholl?" asked Barbicane gravely.
"It seems to me very inopportune to ask about getting away from a
country before you get to it," added Michel.
"I don't ask that question because I want to draw back, but I repeat my
question, and ask, 'How shall we get back?'"
"I have not the least idea," answered Barbicane.
"And as for me," said Michel, "if I had known how to come back I should
not have gone."
"That is what you call answering," cried Nicholl.
"I approve of Michel's words, and add that the question has no actual
interest. We will think about that later on, when we want to return.
Though the Columbiad will not be there, the projectile will."
"Much good that will be, a bullet without a gun!"
"A gun can be made, and so can powder! Neither metal, saltpetre, nor
coal can be wanting in the bowels of the moon. Besides, in order to
return you have only the lunar attraction to conquer, and you will only
have 8,000 leagues to go so as to fall on the terrestrial globe by the
simple laws of weight."
"That is enough," said Michel, getting animated. "Let us hear no more
about returning. As to communicating with our ancient colleagues upon
earth, that will not be difficult."
"How are we to do that, pray?"
"By means of meteors hurled by the lunar volcanoes."
"A good idea, Michel," answered Barbicane. "Laplace has calculated that
a force five times superior to that of our cannons would suffice to send
a meteor from the moon to the earth. Now there is no volcano that has
not a superior force of propulsion."
"Hurrah!" cried Michel. "Meteors will be convenient postmen and will not
cost anything! And how we shall laugh at the postal service! But now I
"What do you think?"
"A superb idea! Why did we not fasten a telegraph wire to our bullet? We
could have exchanged telegrams with the earth!"
"And the weight of a wire 86,000 leagues long," answered Nicholl, "does
that go for nothing?"
"Yes, for nothing! We should have trebled the charge of the Columbiad!
We could have made it four times--five times--greater!" cried Michel,
whose voice became more and more violent.
"There is a slight objection to make to your project," answered
Barbicane. "It is that during the movement of rotation of the globe our
wire would have been rolled round it like a chain round a windlass, and
it would inevitably have dragged us down to the earth again."
"By the thirty-nine stars of the Union!" said Michel, "I have nothing
but impracticable ideas to-day--ideas worthy of J.T. Maston! But now I
think of it, if we do not return to earth J.T. Maston will certainly
come to us!"
"Yes! he will come," replied Barbicane; "he is a worthy and courageous
comrade. Besides, what could be easier? Is not the Columbiad still lying
in Floridian soil? Is cotton and nitric acid wanting wherewith to
manufacture the projectile? Will not the moon again pass the zenith of
Florida? In another eighteen years will she not occupy exactly the same
place that she occupies to-day?"
"Yes," repeated Michel--"yes, Maston will come, and with him our friends
Elphinstone, Blomsberry, and all the members of the Gun Club, and they
will be welcome! Later on trains of projectiles will be established
between the earth and the moon! Hurrah for J.T. Maston!"
It is probable that if the Honourable J.T. Maston did not hear the
hurrahs uttered in his honour his ears tingled at least. What was he
doing then? He was no doubt stationed in the Rocky Mountains at Long's
Peak, trying to discover the invisible bullet gravitating in space. If
he was thinking of his dear companions it must be acknowledged that they
were not behindhand with him, and that, under the influence of singular
exaltation, they consecrated their best thoughts to him.
But whence came the animation that grew visibly greater in the
inhabitants of the projectile? Their sobriety could not be questioned.
Must this strange erethismus of the brain be attributed to the
exceptional circumstances of the time, to that proximity of the Queen of
Night from which a few hours only separated them, or to some secret
influence of the moon acting on their nervous system? Their faces became
as red as if exposed to the reverberation of a furnace; their
respiration became more active, and their lungs played like
forge-bellows; their eyes shone with extraordinary flame, and their
voices became formidably loud, their words escaped like a champagne-cork
driven forth by carbonic acid gas; their gestures became disquieting,
they wanted so much room to perform them in. And, strange to say, they
in no wise perceived this excessive tension of the mind.
"Now," said Nicholl in a sharp tone--"now that I do not know whether we
shall come back from the moon, I will know what we are going there for!"
"What we are going there for!" answered Barbicane, stamping as if he
were in a fencing-room; "I don't know."
"You don't know!" cried Michel with a shout that provoked a sonorous
echo in the projectile.
"No, I have not the least idea!" answered Barbicane, shouting in unison
with his interlocutor.
"Well, then, I know," answered Michel.
"Speak, then," said Nicholl, who could no longer restrain the angry
tones of his voice.
"I shall speak if it suits me!" cried Michel, violently seizing his
companion's arm. "It must suit you!" said Barbicane, with eyes on fire
and threatening hands. "It was you who drew us into this terrible
journey, and we wish to know why!"
"Yes," said the captain, "now I don't know where I am going, I will know
why I am going."
"Why?" cried Michel, jumping a yard high--"why? To take possession of
the moon in the name of the United States! To add a fortieth State to
the Union! To colonise the lunar regions, to cultivate them, people
them, to take them all the wonders of art, science, and industry! To
civilise the Selenites, unless they are more civilised than we are, and
to make them into a republic if they have not already done it for
"If there are any Selenites!" answered Nicholl, who under the empire of
this inexplicable intoxication became very contradictory.
"Who says there are no Selenites?" cried Michel in a threatening tone.
"I do!" shouted Nicholl.
"Captain," said Michel, "do not repeat that insult or I will knock your
teeth down your throat!"
The two adversaries were about to rush upon one another, and this
incoherent discussion was threatening to degenerate into a battle, when
"Stop, unhappy men," said he, putting his two companions back to back,
"if there are no Selenites, we will do without them!"
"Yes!" exclaimed Michel, who did not care more about them than that. "We
have nothing to do with the Selenites! Bother the Selenites!"
"The empire of the moon shall be ours," said Nicholl. "Let us found a
Republic of three!"
"I shall be the Congress," cried Michel.
"And I the Senate," answered Nicholl.
"And Barbicane the President," shouted Michel.
"No President elected by the nation!" answered Barbicane.
"Well, then, a President elected by the Congress," exclaimed Michel;
"and as I am the Congress I elect you unanimously."
"Hurrah! hurrah! hurrah for President Barbicane!" exclaimed Nicholl.
"Hip--hip--hip! hurrah!" vociferated Michel Ardan.
Then the President and Senate struck up "Yankee Doodle" as loudly as
they could, whilst the Congress shouted the virile "Marseillaise."
Then began a frantic dance with maniacal gestures, mad stamping, and
somersaults of boneless clowns. Diana took part in the dance, howling
too, and jumped to the very roof of the projectile. An inexplicable
flapping of wings and cock-crows of singular sonority were heard. Five
or six fowls flew about striking the walls like mad bats.
Then the three travelling companions, whose lungs were disorganised
under some incomprehensible influence, more than intoxicated, burnt by
the air that had set their breathing apparatus on fire, fell motionless
upon the bottom of the projectile.
AT SEVENTY-EIGHT THOUSAND ONE HUNDRED AND FOURTEEN LEAGUES.
What had happened? What was the cause of that singular intoxication, the
consequences of which might prove so disastrous? Simply carelessness on
Michel's part, which Nicholl was able to remedy in time.
After a veritable swoon, which lasted a few minutes, the captain, who
was the first to regain consciousness, soon collected his intellectual
Although he had breakfasted two hours before, he began to feel as hungry
as if he had not tasted food for several days. His whole being, his
brain and stomach, were excited to the highest point.
He rose, therefore, and demanded a supplementary collation from Michel,
who was still unconscious, and did not answer. Nicholl, therefore,
proceeded to prepare some cups of tea, in order to facilitate the
absorption of a dozen sandwiches. He busied himself first with lighting
a fire, and so struck a match.
What was his surprise to see the sulphur burn with extraordinary and
almost unbearable brilliancy! From the jet of gas he lighted rose a
flame equal to floods of electric light.
A revelation took place in Nicholl's mind. This intensity of light, the
physiological disturbance in himself, the extra excitement of all his
moral and sensitive faculties--he understood it all.
"The oxygen!" he exclaimed.
And leaning over the air-apparatus, he saw that the tap was giving out a
flood of colourless, savourless, and odourless gas, eminently vital, but
which in a pure state produces the gravest disorders in the
constitution. Through carelessness Michel had left the tap full on.
Nicholl made haste to turn off this flow of oxygen with which the
atmosphere was saturated, and which would have caused the death of the
travellers, not by suffocation, but by combustion.
An hour afterwards the air was relieved, and gave their normal play to
the lungs. By degrees the three friends recovered from their
intoxication; but they were obliged to recover from their oxygen like a
drunkard from his wine.
When Michel knew his share of responsibility in this incident he did not
appear in the least disconcerted. This unexpected intoxication broke the
monotony of the journey. Many foolish things had been said under its
influence, but they had been forgotten as soon as said.
"Then," added the merry Frenchman, "I am not sorry for having
experienced the effect of this captious gas. Do you know, my friends,
that there might be a curious establishment set up with oxygen-rooms,
where people whose constitutions are weak might live a more active life
during a few hours at least? Suppose we had meetings where the air could
be saturated with this heroic fluid, theatres where the managers would
send it out in strong doses, what passion there would be in the souls of
actors and spectators, what fire and what enthusiasm! And if, instead of
a simple assembly, a whole nation could be saturated with it, what
activity, what a supplement of life it would receive! Of an exhausted
nation it perhaps would make a great and strong nation, and I know more
than one state in old Europe that ought to put itself under the oxygen
_regime_ in the interest of its health."
Michel spoke with as much animation as if the tap were still full on.
But with one sentence Barbicane damped his enthusiasm.
"All that is very well, friend Michel," he said, "but now perhaps you
will tell us where those fowls that joined in our concert came from."
In fact, half-a-dozen hens and a superb cock were flying hither and
"Ah, the stupids!" cried Michel. "It was the oxygen that put them in
"But what are you going to do with those fowls?" asked Barbicane.
"Acclimatise them in the moon of course! For the sake of a joke, my
worthy president; simply a joke that has unhappily come to nothing! I
wanted to let them out on the lunar continent without telling you! How
astounded you would have been to see these terrestrial poultry pecking
the fields of the moon!"
"Ah, _gamin_, you eternal boy!" answered Barbicane, "you don't want
oxygen to make you out of your senses! You are always what we were under
the influence of this gas! You are always insane!"
"Ah! how do we know we were not wiser then?" replied Michel Ardan.
After this philosophical reflection the three friends repaired the
disorder in the projectile. Cock and hens were put back in their cage.
But as they were doing this Barbicane and his two companions distinctly
perceived a fresh phenomenon.
Since the moment they had left the earth their own weight, that of the
bullet and the objects it contained, had suffered progressive
diminution. Though they could not have any experience of this in the
projectile, a moment must come when the effect upon themselves and the
tools and instruments they used would be felt.
Of course scales would not have indicated this loss of weight, for the
weights used would have lost precisely as much as the object itself; but
a spring weighing-machine, the tension of which is independent of
attraction, would have given the exact valuation of this diminution.
It is well known that attraction, or weight, is in proportion to the
bulk, and in inverse proportion to the square of distances. Hence this
consequence. If the earth had been alone in space, if the other heavenly
bodies were to be suddenly annihilated, the projectile, according to
Newton's law, would have weighed less according to its distance from the
earth, but without ever losing its weight entirely, for the terrestrial
attraction would always have made itself felt, no matter at what
But in the case with which we are dealing, a moment must come when the
projectile would not be at all under the law of gravitation, after
allowing for the other celestial bodies, whose effect could not be set
down as zero.
In fact, the trajectory of the projectile was between the earth and the
moon. As it went farther away from the earth terrestrial attraction
would be diminished in inverse proportion to the square of distances,
but the lunar attraction would be augmented in the same proportion. A
point must, therefore, be reached where these two attractions would
neutralise each other, and the bullet would have no weight at all. If
the volumes of the moon and earth were equal, this point would have been
reached at an equal distance between the two bodies. But by taking their
difference of bulk into account it was easy to calculate that this
point would be situated at 47/52 of the journey, or at 78,114 leagues
from the earth.
At this point a body that had no principle of velocity or movement in
itself would remain eternally motionless, being equally attracted by the
two heavenly bodies, and nothing drawing it more towards one than the
Now if the force of impulsion had been exactly calculated the projectile
ought to reach that point with no velocity, having lost all weight like
the objects it contained.
What would happen then? Three hypotheses presented themselves.
Either the projectile would have kept some velocity, and passing the
point of equal attraction, would fall on the moon by virtue of the
excess of lunar attraction over terrestrial attraction.
Or velocity sufficient to reach the neutral point being wanting, it
would fall back on the earth by virtue of the excess of terrestrial
attraction over lunar attraction.
Or lastly, endowed with sufficient velocity to reach the neutral point,
but insufficient to pass it, it would remain eternally suspended in the
same place, like the pretended coffin of Mahomet, between the zenith and
Such was the situation, and Barbicane clearly explained the consequences
to his travelling companions. They were interested to the highest
degree. How were they to know when they had reached this neutral point,
situated at 78,114 leagues from the earth, at the precise moment when
neither they nor the objects contained in the projectile should be in
any way subject to the laws of weight?
Until now the travellers, though they had remarked that this action
diminished little by little, had not yet perceived its total absence.
But that day, about 11 a.m., Nicholl having let a tumbler escape from
his hand, instead of falling, it remained suspended in the air.
"Ah!" cried Michel Ardan, "this is a little amusing chemistry!"
And immediately different objects, weapons, bottles, &c, left to
themselves, hung suspended as if by miracle. Diana, too, lifted up by
Michel into space, reproduced, but without trickery, the marvellous
suspensions effected by Robert-Houdin and Maskelyne and Cook.
The three adventurous companions, surprised and stupefied in spite of
their scientific reasoning, carried into the domain of the marvellous,
felt weight go out of their bodies. When they stretched out their arms
they felt no inclination to drop them. Their heads vacillated on their
shoulders. Their feet no longer kept at the bottom of the projectile.
They were like staggering drunkards. Imagination has created men
deprived of their reflection, others deprived of their shadows! But here
reality, by the neutrality of active forces, made men in whom nothing
had any weight, and who weighed nothing themselves.
Suddenly Michel, making a slight spring, left the floor and remained
suspended in the air like the good monk in Murillo's _Cuisine des
Anges_. His two friends joined him in an instant, and all three, in the
centre of the projectile, figured a miraculous ascension.
"Is it believable? Is it likely? Is it possible?" cried Michel. "No. And
yet it exists! Ah! if Raphael could have seen us like this what an
Assumption he could have put upon canvas!"
"The Assumption cannot last," answered Barbicane. "If the projectile
passes the neutral point, the lunar attraction will draw us to the
"Then our feet will rest upon the roof of the projectile,' answered
"No," said Barbicane, "because the centre of gravity in the projectile
is very low, and it will turn over gradually."
"Then all our things will be turned upside down for certain!"
"Do not alarm yourself, Michel," answered Nicholl. "There is nothing of
the kind to be feared. Not an object will move; the projectile will turn
"In fact," resumed Barbicane, "when it has cleared the point of equal
attraction, its bottom, relatively heavier, will drag it perpendicularly
down to the moon. But in order that such a phenomenon should take place
we must pass the neutral line."
"Passing the neutral line!" cried Michel. "Then let us do like the
sailors who pass the equator--let us water our passage!"
A slight side movement took Michel to the padded wall. Thence he took a
bottle and glasses, placed them "in space" before his companions, and
merrily touching glasses, they saluted the line with a triple hurrah.
This influence of the attractions lasted scarcely an hour. The
travellers saw themselves insensibly lowered towards the bottom, and
Barbicane thought he remarked that the conical end of the projectile
deviated slightly from the normal direction towards the moon. By an
inverse movement the bottom side approached it. Lunar attraction was
therefore gaining over terrestrial attraction. The fall towards the moon
began, insensibly as yet; it could only be that of a millimetre (0.03937
inch), and a third in the first second. But the attractive force would
gradually increase, the fall would be more accentuated, the projectile,
dragged down by its bottom side, would present its cone to the earth,
and would fall with increasing velocity until it reached the Selenite
surface. Now nothing could prevent the success of the enterprise, and
Nicholl and Michel Ardan shared Barbicane's joy.
Then they chatted about all the phenomena that had astounded them one
after another, especially about the neutralisation of the laws of
weight. Michel Ardan, always full of enthusiasm, wished to deduce
consequences which were only pure imagination.
"Ah! my worthy friends," he cried, "what progress we should make could
we but get rid upon earth of this weight, this chain that rivets us to
her! It would be the prisoner restored to liberty! There would be no
more weariness either in arms or legs. And if it is true that, in order
to fly upon the surface of the earth, to sustain yourself in the air by
a simple action of the muscles, it would take a force 150 times superior
to that we possess, a simple act of will, a caprice, would transport us
into space, and attraction would not exist."
"In fact," said Nicholl, laughing, "if they succeeded in suppressing
gravitation, like pain is suppressed by anaesthesia, it would change the
face of modern society!"
"Yes," cried Michel, full of his subject, "let us destroy weight and
have no more burdens! No more cranes, screw-jacks, windlasses, cranks,
or other machines will be wanted."
"Well said," replied Barbicane; "but if nothing had any weight nothing
would keep in its place, not even the hat on your head, worthy Michel;
nor your house, the stones of which only adhere by their weight! Not
even ships, whose stability upon the water is only a consequence of
weight. Not even the ocean, whose waves would no longer be held in
equilibrium by terrestrial attraction. Lastly, not even the atmosphere,
the molecules of which, being no longer held together, would disperse
"That is a pity," replied Michel. "There is nothing like positive people
for recalling you brutally to reality!"
"Nevertheless, console yourself, Michel," resumed Barbicane, "for if no
star could exist from which the laws of weight were banished, you are at
least going to pay a visit where gravity is much less than upon earth."
"Yes, the moon, on the surface of which objects weigh six times less
than upon the surface of the earth, a phenomenon very easy to
"And shall we perceive it?" asked Michel. "Evidently, for 400 lbs. only
weigh 60 lbs. on the surface of the moon."
"Will not our muscular strength be diminished?"
"Not at all. Instead of jumping one yard you will be able to rise six."
"Then we shall be Hercules in the moon," cried Michel.
"Yes," replied Nicholl, "and the more so because if the height of the
Selenites is in proportion to the bulk of their globe they will be
hardly a foot high."
"Liliputians!" replied Michel. "Then I am going to play the _role_ of
Gulliver! We shall realise the fable of the giants! That is the
advantage of leaving one's own planet to visit the solar world!"
"But if you want to play Gulliver," answered Barbicane, "only visit the
inferior planets, such as Mercury, Venus, or Mars, whose bulk is rather
less than that of the earth. But do not venture into the big planets,
Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, for there the _roles_ would be
inverted, and you would become Liliputian."
"And in the sun?"
"In the sun, though its density is four times less than that of the
earth, its volume is thirteen hundred and twenty-four thousand times
greater, and gravitation there is twenty-seven times greater than upon
the surface of our globe. Every proportion kept, the inhabitants ought
on an average to be two hundred feet high."
"The devil!" exclaimed Michel. "I should only be a pigmy!"
"Gulliver amongst the giants," said Nicholl.
"Just so," answered Barbicane.
"It would not have been a bad thing to carry some pieces of artillery to
defend oneself with."
"Good," replied Barbicane; "your bullets would have no effect on the
sun, and they would fall to the ground in a few minutes."
"That's saying a great deal!"
"It is a fact," answered Barbicane. "Gravitation is so great on that
enormous planet that an object weighing 70 lbs. on the earth would weigh
1,930 lbs. on the surface of the sun. Your hat would weigh 20 lbs.! your
cigar 1/2 lb.! Lastly, if you fell on the solar continent your weight
would be so great--about 5,000 lbs.--that you could not get up again."
"The devil!" said Michel, "I should have to carry about a portable
crane! Well, my friends, let us be content with the moon for to-day.
There, at least, we shall cut a great figure! Later on we shall see if
we will go to the sun, where you can't drink without a crane to lift the
glass to your mouth."
THE CONSEQUENCES OF DEVIATION.
Barbicane had now no fear, if not about the issue of the journey, at
least about the projectile's force of impulsion. Its own speed would
carry it beyond the neutral line. Therefore it would not return to the
earth nor remain motionless upon the point of attraction. One hypothesis
only remained to be realised, the arrival of the bullet at its goal
under the action of lunar attraction.
In reality it was a fall of 8,296 leagues upon a planet, it is true,
where the gravity is six times less than upon the earth. Nevertheless it
would be a terrible fall, and one against which all precautions ought to
be taken without delay.
These precautions were of two sorts; some were for the purpose of
deadening the shock at the moment the projectile would touch lunar
ground; others were to retard the shock, and so make it less violent.
In order to deaden the shock, it was a pity that Barbicane was no longer
able to employ the means that had so usefully weakened the shock at
departure--that is to say, the water used as a spring and the movable
partitions. The partitions still existed, but water was wanting, for
they could not use the reserve for this purpose--that would be precious
in case the liquid element should fail on the lunar soil.
Besides, this reserve would not have been sufficient for a spring. The
layer of water stored in the projectile at their departure, and on which
lay the waterproof disc, occupied no less than three feet in depth, and
spread over a surface of not less than fifty-four feet square. Now the
receptacles did not contain the fifth part of that. They were therefore
obliged to give up this effectual means of deadening the shock.
Fortunately Barbicane, not content with employing water, had furnished
the movable disc with strong spring buffers, destined to lessen the
shock against the bottom, after breaking the horizontal partitions.
These buffers were still in existence; they had only to be fitted on and
the movable disc put in its place. All these pieces, easy to handle, as
they weighed scarcely anything, could be rapidly mounted.
This was done. The different pieces were adjusted without difficulty. It
was only a matter of bolts and screws. There were plenty of tools. The
disc was soon fixed on its steel buffers like a table on its legs. One
inconvenience resulted from this arrangement. The lower port-hole was
covered, and it would be impossible for the travellers to observe the
moon through that opening whilst they were being precipitated
perpendicularly upon her. But they were obliged to give it up. Besides,
through the lateral openings they could still perceive the vast lunar
regions, like the earth is seen from the car of a balloon.
This placing of the disc took an hour's work. It was more than noon when
the preparations were completed. Barbicane made fresh observations on
the inclination of the projectile, but to his great vexation it had not
turned sufficiently for a fall; it appeared to be describing a curve
parallel with the lunar disc. The Queen of Night was shining splendidly
in space, whilst opposite the orb of day was setting her on fire with
This situation soon became an anxious one.
"Shall we get there?" said Nicholl.
"We must act as though we should," answered Barbicane.
"You are faint-hearted fellows," replied Michel Ardan. "We shall get
there, and quicker than we want."
This answer recalled Barbicane to his preparations, and he occupied
himself with placing the contrivances destined to retard the fall.
It will be remembered that, at the meeting held in Tampa Town, Florida,
Captain Nicholl appeared as Barbicane's enemy, and Michel Ardan's
adversary. When Captain Nicholl said that the projectile would be broken
like glass, Michel answered that he would retard the fall by means of
fusees properly arranged.
In fact, powerful fusees, resting upon the bottom, and being fired
outside, might, by producing a recoil action, lessen the speed of the
bullet. These fusees were to burn in the void it is true, but oxygen
would not fail them, for they would furnish that themselves like the
lunar volcanoes, the deflagration of which has never been prevented by
the want of atmosphere around the moon.
Barbicane had therefore provided himself with fireworks shut up in
little cannons of bored steel, which could be screwed on to the bottom
of the projectile. Inside these cannons were level with the bottom;
outside they went half a foot beyond it. There were twenty of them. An
opening in the disc allowed them to light the match with which each was
provided. All the effect took place outside. The exploding mixture had
been already rammed into each gun. All they had to do, therefore, was to
take up the metallic buffers fixed in the base, and to put these cannons
in their place, where they fitted exactly.
This fresh work was ended about 3 p.m., and all precaution taken they
had now nothing to do but to wait.
In the meantime the projectile visibly drew nearer the moon. It was,
therefore, submitted in some proportion to its influence; but its own
velocity also inclined it in an oblique line. Perhaps the result of
these two influences would be a line that would become a tangent. But it
was certain that the projectile was not falling normally upon the
surface of the moon, for its base, by reason of its weight, ought to
have been turned towards her.
Barbicane's anxiety was increased on seeing that his bullet resisted the
influence of gravitation. It was the unknown that was before him--the
unknown of the interstellar regions. He, the _savant_, believed that he
had foreseen the only three hypotheses that were possible--the return to
the earth, the fall upon the moon, or stagnation upon the neutral line!
And here a fourth hypothesis, full of all the terrors of the infinite,
cropped up inopportunely. To face it without flinching took a resolute
_savant_ like Barbicane, a phlegmatic being like Nicholl, or an
audacious adventurer like Michel Ardan.
Conversation was started on this subject. Other men would have
considered the question from a practical point of view. They would have
wondered where the projectile would take them to. Not they, however.
They sought the cause that had produced this effect.
"So we are off the line," said Michel. "But how is that?"
"I am very much afraid," answered Nicholl, "that notwithstanding all the
precautions that were taken, the Columbiad was not aimed correctly. The
slightest error would suffice to throw us outside the pale of lunar
"Then the cannon was pointed badly?" said Michel.
"I do not think so," answered Barbicane. "The cannon was rigorously
perpendicular, and its direction towards the zenith of the place was
incontestable. The moon passing the zenith, we ought to have reached her
at the full. There is another reason, but it escapes me."
"Perhaps we have arrived too late," suggested Nicholl.
"Too late?" said Barbicane.
"Yes," resumed Nicholl. "The notice from the Cambridge Observatory said
that the transit ought to be accomplished in ninety-seven hours thirteen
minutes and twenty seconds. That means that before that time the moon
would not have reached the point indicated, and after she would have
"Agreed," answered Barbicane. "But we started on the 1st of December at
11h. 13m. 25s. p.m., and we ought to arrive at midnight on the 5th,
precisely as the moon is full. Now this is the 5th of December. It is
half-past three, and eight hours and a half ought to be sufficient to
take us to our goal. Why are we not going towards it?"
"Perhaps the velocity was greater than it ought to have been," answered
Nicholl, "for we know now that the initial velocity was greater than it
was supposed to be."
"No! a hundred times no!" replied Barbicane. "An excess of velocity,
supposing the direction of the projectile to have been correct, would
not have prevented us reaching the moon. No! There has been a deviation.
We have deviated!"
"Through whom? through what?" asked Nicholl.
"I cannot tell," answered Barbicane.
"Well, Barbicane," then said Michel, "should you like to know what I
think about why we have deviated?"
"Say what you think."
"I would not give half a dollar to know! We have deviated, that is a
fact. It does not matter much where we are going. We shall soon find
out. As we are being carried along into space we shall end by falling
into some centre of attraction or another."
Barbicane could not be contented with this indifference of Michel
Ardan's. Not that he was anxious about the future. But what he wanted to
know, at any price, was why his projectile had deviated.
In the meantime the projectile kept on its course sideways to the moon,
and the objects thrown out along with it. Barbicane could even prove by
the landmarks upon the moon, which was only at 2,000 leagues' distance,
that its speed was becoming uniform--a fresh proof that they were not
falling. Its force of impulsion was prevailing over the lunar
attraction, but the trajectory of the projectile was certainly taking
them nearer the lunar disc, and it might be hoped that at a nearer point
the weight would predominate and provoke a fall.
The three friends, having nothing better to do, went on with their
observations. They could not, however, yet determine the topography of
the satellite. Every relief was levelled under the action of the solar
They watched thus through the lateral windows until 8 p.m. The moon then
looked so large that she hid half the firmament from them. The sun on
one side, and the Queen of Night on the other, inundated the projectile
At that moment Barbicane thought he could estimate at 700 leagues only
the distance that separated them from their goal. The velocity of the
projectile appeared to him to be 200 yards a second, or about 170
leagues an hour. The base of the bullet had a tendency to turn towards
the moon under the influence of the centripetal force; but the
centrifugal force still predominated, and it became probable that the
rectilinear trajectory would change to some curve the nature of which
could not be determined.
Barbicane still sought the solution of his insoluble problem. The hours
went by without result. The projectile visibly drew nearer to the moon,
but it was plain that it would not reach her. The short distance at
which it would pass her would be the result of two forces, attractive
and repulsive, which acted upon the projectile.
"I only pray for one thing," repeated Michel, "and that is to pass near
enough to the moon to penetrate her secrets."
"Confound the cause that made our projectile deviate!" cried Nicholl.
"Then," said Barbicane, as if he had been suddenly struck with an idea,
"confound that asteroid that crossed our path!"
"Eh?" said Michel Ardan.
"What do you mean?" exclaimed Nicholl.
"I mean," resumed Barbicane, who appeared convinced, "I mean that our
deviation is solely due to the influence of that wandering body."
"But it did not even graze us," continued Michel.
"What does that matter? Its bulk, compared with that of our projectile,
was enormous, and its attraction was sufficient to have an influence
upon our direction."
"That influence must have been very slight," said Nicholl.
"Yes, Nicholl, but slight as it was," answered Barbicane, "upon a
distance of 84,000 leagues it was enough to make us miss the moon!"
THE OBSERVERS OF THE MOON.
Barbicane had evidently found the only plausible reason for the
deviation. However slight it had been, it had been sufficient to modify
the trajectory of the projectile. It was a fatality. The audacious
attempt had miscarried by a fortuitous circumstance, and unless anything
unexpected happened, the lunar disc could no longer be reached. Would
they pass it near enough to resolve certain problems in physics and
geology until then unsolved? This was the only question that occupied
the minds of these bold travellers. As to the fate the future held in
store for them, they would not even think about it. Yet what was to
become of them amidst these infinite solitudes when air failed them? A
few more days and they would fall suffocated in this bullet wandering at
hazard. But a few days were centuries to these intrepid men, and they
consecrated every moment to observing the moon they no longer hoped to
The distance which then separated the projectile from the satellite was
estimated at about 200 leagues. Under these conditions, as far as
regards the visibility of the details of the disc, the travellers were
farther from the moon than are the inhabitants of the earth with their
It is, in fact, known that the instrument set up by Lord Rosse at
Parsonstown, which magnifies 6,500 times, brings the moon to within
sixteen leagues; and the powerful telescope set up at Long's Peak
magnifies 48,000 times, and brings the moon to within less than two
leagues, so that objects twelve yards in diameter were sufficiently
Thus, then, at that distance the topographical details of the moon, seen
without a telescope, were not distinctly determined. The eye caught the
outline of those vast depressions inappropriately called "seas," but
they could not determine their nature. The prominence of the mountains
disappeared under the splendid irradiation produced by the reflection of
the solar rays. The eye, dazzled as if leaning over a furnace of molten
silver, turned from it involuntarily.
However, the oblong form of the orb was already clearly seen.
It appeared like a gigantic egg, with the small end turned towards the
earth. The moon, liquid and pliable in the first days of her formation,
was originally a perfect sphere. But soon, drawn within the pale of the
earth's gravitation, she became elongated under its influence. By
becoming a satellite she lost her native purity of form; her centre of
gravity was in advance of the centre of her figure, and from this fact
some _savants_ draw the conclusion that air and water might have taken
refuge on the opposite side of the moon, which is never seen from the
This alteration in the primitive forms of the satellite was only visible
for a few moments. The distance between the projectile and the moon
diminished visibly; its velocity was considerably less than its initial
velocity, but eight or nine times greater than that of our express
trains. The oblique direction of the bullet, from its very obliquity,
left Michel Ardan some hope of touching the lunar disc at some point or
other. He could not believe that he should not get to it. No, he could
not believe it, and this he often repeated. But Barbicane, who was a
better judge, always answered him with pitiless logic.
"No, Michel, no. We can only reach the moon by a fall, and we are not
falling. The centripetal force keeps us under the moon's influence, but
the centrifugal force sends us irresistibly away from it."
This was said in a tone that deprived Michel Ardan of his last hopes.
The portion of the moon the projectile was approaching was the northern
hemisphere. The selenographic maps make it the lower one, because they
are generally drawn up according to the image given by the telescopes,
and we know that they reverse the objects. Such was the _Mappa
Selenographica_ of Boeer and Moedler which Barbicane consulted. This
northern hemisphere presented vast plains, relieved by isolated
At midnight the moon was full. At that precise moment the travellers
ought to have set foot upon her if the unlucky asteroid had not made
them deviate from their direction. The orb was exactly in the condition
rigorously determined by the Cambridge Observatory. She was
mathematically at her perigee, and at the zenith of the twenty-eighth
parallel. An observer placed at the bottom of the enormous Columbiad
while it is pointed perpendicularly at the horizon would have framed the
moon in the mouth of the cannon. A straight line drawn through the axis
of the piece would have passed through the centre of the moon.
It need hardly be stated that during the night between the 5th and 6th
of December the travellers did not take a minute's rest. Could they have
closed their eyes so near to a new world? No. All their feelings were
concentrated in one thought--to see! Representatives of the earth, of
humanity past and present, all concentrated in themselves, it was
through their eyes that the human race looked at these lunar regions and
penetrated the secrets of its satellite! A strange emotion filled their
hearts, and they went silently from one window to another.
Their observations were noted down by Barbicane, and were made
rigorously exact. To make them they had telescopes. To control them they
The first observer of the moon was Galileo. His poor telescope only
magnified thirty times. Nevertheless, in the spots that pitted the lunar
disc "like eyes in a peacock's tail," he was the first to recognise
mountains, and measure some heights to which he attributed,
exaggerating, an elevation equal to the 20th of the diameter of the
disc, or 8,000 metres. Galileo drew up no map of his observations.
A few years later an astronomer of Dantzig, Hevelius--by operations
which were only exact twice a month, at the first and second
quadrature--reduced Galileo's heights to one-twenty-sixth only of the
lunar diameter. This was an exaggeration the other way. But it is to
this _savant_ that the first map of the moon is due. The light round
spots there form circular mountains, and the dark spots indicate vast
seas which, in reality, are plains. To these mountains and extents of
sea he gave terrestrial denominations. There is a Sinai in the middle of
an Arabia, Etna in the centre of Sicily, the Alps, Apennines,
Carpathians, the Mediterranean, the Black Sea, the Caspian, &c.--names
badly applied, for neither mountains nor seas recalled the configuration
of their namesakes on the globe. That large white spot, joined on the
south to vaster continents and terminated in a point, could hardly be
recognised as the inverted image of the Indian Peninsula, the Bay of
Bengal, and Cochin-China. So these names were not kept. Another
chartographer, knowing human nature better, proposed a fresh
nomenclature, which human vanity made haste to adopt.
This observer was Father Riccioli, a contemporary of Hevelius. He drew
up a rough map full of errors. But he gave to the lunar mountains the
names of great men of antiquity and _savants_ of his own epoch.
A third map of the moon was executed in the seventeenth century by
Dominique Cassini; superior to that of Riccioli in the execution, it is
inexact in the measurements. Several smaller copies were published, but
the plate long kept in the _Imprimerie Nationale_ was sold by weight as
La Hire, a celebrated mathematician and designer, drew up a map of the
moon four and a half yards high, which was never engraved.
After him, a German astronomer, Tobie Marger, about the middle of the
eighteenth century, began the publication of a magnificent selenographic
map, according to lunar measures, which he rigorously verified; but his
death, which took place in 1762, prevented the termination of this
It was in 1830 that Messrs. Boeer and Moedler composed their celebrated
_Mappa Selenographica_, according to an orthographical projection. This
map reproduces the exact lunar disc, such as it appears, only the
configurations of the mountains and plains are only correct in the
central part; everywhere else--in the northern or southern portions,
eastern or western--the configurations foreshortened cannot be compared
with those of the centre. This topographical map, one yard high and
divided into four parts, is a masterpiece of lunar chartography.
After these _savants_ may be cited the selenographic reliefs of the
German astronomer Julius Schmidt, the topographical works of Father
Secchi, the magnificent sheets of the English amateur, Waren de la Rue,
and lastly a map on orthographical projection of Messrs. Lecouturier and
Chapuis, a fine model set up in 1860, of very correct design and clear
Such is the nomenclature of the different maps relating to the lunar
world. Barbicane possessed two, that of Messrs. Boeer and Moedler and
that of Messrs. Chapuis and Lecouturier. They were to make his work of
They had excellent marine glasses specially constructed for this
journey. They magnified objects a hundred times; they would therefore
have reduced the distance between the earth and the moon to less than
1,000 leagues. But then at a distance which towards 3 a.m. did not
exceed a hundred miles, and in a medium which no atmosphere obstructed,
these instruments brought the lunar level to less than fifteen hundred
IMAGINATION AND REALITY.
"Have you ever seen the moon?" a professor asked one of his pupils
"No, sir," answered the pupil more ironically still, "but I have heard
it spoken of."
In one sense the jocose answer of the pupil might have been made by the
immense majority of sublunary beings. How many people there are who have
heard the moon spoken of and have never seen it--at least through a
telescope! How many even have never examined the map of their satellite!
Looking at a comprehensive selenographic map, one peculiarity strikes us
at once. In contrast to the geographical arrangements of the earth and
Mars, the continents occupy the more southern hemisphere of the lunar
globe. These continents have not such clear and regular boundary-lines
as those of South America, Africa, and the Indian Peninsula. Their
angular, capricious, and deeply-indented coasts are rich in gulfs and
peninsulas. They recall the confusion in the islands of the Sound, where
the earth is excessively cut up. If navigation has ever existed upon the
surface of the moon it must have been exceedingly difficult and
dangerous, and the Selenite mariners and hydrographers were greatly to
be pitied, the former when they came upon these perilous coasts, the
latter when they were marine surveying on the stormy banks.
It may also be noticed that upon the lunar spheroid the South Pole is
much more continental than the North Pole. On the latter there is only a
slight strip of land capping it, separated from the other continents by
vast seas. (When the word "seas" is used the vast plains probably
covered by the sea formerly must be understood.) On the south the land
covers nearly the whole hemisphere. It is, therefore, possible that the
Selenites have already planted their flag on one of their poles, whilst
Franklin, Ross, Kane, Dumont d'Urville, and Lambert have been unable to
reach this unknown point on the terrestrial globe.
Islands are numerous on the surface of the moon. They are almost all
oblong or circular, as though traced with a compass, and seem to form a
vast archipelago, like that charming group lying between Greece and Asia
Minor which mythology formerly animated with its most graceful legends.
Involuntarily the names of Naxos, Tenedos, Milo, and Carpathos come into
the mind, and you seek the ship of Ulysses or the "clipper" of the
Argonauts. That was what it appeared to Michel Ardan; it was a Grecian
Archipelago that he saw on the map. In the eyes of his less imaginative
companions the aspect of these shores recalled rather the cut-up lands
of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia; and where the Frenchman looked for
traces of the heroes of fable, these Americans were noting favourable
points for the establishment of mercantile houses in the interest of
lunar commerce and industry.
Some remarks on the orographical disposition of the moon must conclude
the description of its continents, chains of mountains, isolated
mountains, amphitheatres, and watercourses. The moon is like an immense
Switzerland--a continual Norway, where Plutonic influence has done
everything. This surface, so profoundly rugged, is the result of the
successive contractions of the crust while the orb was being formed. The
lunar disc is propitious for the study of great geological phenomena.
According to the remarks of some astronomers, its surface, although more
ancient than the surface of the earth, has remained newer. There there
is no water to deteriorate the primitive relief, the continuous action
of which produces a sort of general levelling. No air, the decomposing
influence of which modifies orographical profiles. There Pluto's work,
unaltered by Neptune's, is in all its native purity. It is the earth as
she was before tides and currents covered her with layers of soil.
After having wandered over these vast continents the eye is attracted by
still vaster seas. Not only does their formation, situation, and aspect
recall the terrestrial oceans, but, as upon earth, these seas occupy the
largest part of the globe. And yet these are not liquid tracts, but
plains, the nature of which the travellers hoped soon to determine.
Astronomers, it must be owned, have decorated these pretended seas with
at least odd names which science has respected at present. Michel Ardan
was right when he compared this map to a "map of tenderness," drawn up
by Scudery or Cyrano de Bergerac.
"Only," added he, "it is no longer the map of sentiment like that of the
18th century; it is the map of life, clearly divided into two parts, the
one feminine, the other masculine. To the women, the right hemisphere;
to the men, the left!"
When he spoke thus Michel made his prosaic companions shrug their
shoulders. Barbicane and Nicholl looked at the lunar map from another
point of view to that of their imaginative friend. However, their
imaginative friend had some reason on his side. Judge if he had not.
In the left hemisphere stretches the "Sea of Clouds," where human reason
is so often drowned. Not far off appears the "Sea of Rains," fed by all
the worries of existence. Near lies the "Sea of Tempests," where man
struggles incessantly against his too-often victorious passions. Then,
exhausted by deceptions, treasons, infidelities, and all the procession
of terrestrial miseries, what does he find at the end of his career? The
vast "Sea of Humours," scarcely softened by some drops from the waters
of the "Gulf of Dew!" Clouds, rain, tempests, humours, does the life of
man contain aught but these? and is it not summed up in these four
The right-hand hemisphere dedicated to "the women" contains smaller
seas, the significant names of which agree with every incident of
feminine existence. There is the "Sea of Serenity," over which bends the
young maiden, and the "Lake of Dreams," which reflects her back a happy
future. The "Sea of Nectar," with its waves of tenderness and breezes of
love! The "Sea of Fecundity," the "Sea of Crises," and the "Sea of
Vapours," the dimensions of which are, perhaps, too restricted, and
lastly, that vast "Sea of Tranquillity" where all false passions, all
useless dreams, all unassuaged desires are absorbed, and the waves of
which flow peacefully into the "Lake of Death!"
What a strange succession of names! What a singular division of these
two hemispheres of the moon, united to one another like man and woman,
and forming a sphere of life, carried through space. And was not the
imaginative Michel right in thus interpreting the fancies of the old
But whilst his imagination thus ran riot on the "seas," his grave
companions were looking at things more geographically. They were
learning this new world by heart. They were measuring its angles and
To Barbicane and Nicholl the "Sea of Clouds" was an immense depression
of ground, with circular mountains scattered about on it; covering a
great part of the western side of the southern hemisphere, it covered
184,800 square leagues, and its centre was in south latitude 15 deg., and
west longitude 20 deg.. The Ocean of Tempests, _Oceanus Procellarum_, the
largest plain on the lunar disc, covered a surface of 328,300 square
leagues, its centre being in north latitude 10 deg., and east longitude 45 deg..
From its bosom emerge the admirable shining mountains of Kepler and
More to the north, and separated from the Sea of Clouds by high chains
of mountains, extends the Sea of Rains, _Mare Imbrium_, having its
central point in north latitude 35 deg. and east longitude 20 deg.; it is of a
nearly circular form, and covers a space of 193,000 leagues. Not far
distant the Sea of Humours, _Mare Humorum_, a little basin of 44,200
square leagues only, was situated in south latitude 25 deg., and east
longitude 40 deg.. Lastly, three gulfs lie on the coast of this
hemisphere--the Torrid Gulf, the Gulf of Dew, and the Gulf of Iris,
little plains inclosed by high chains of mountains.
The "Feminine" hemisphere, naturally more capricious, was distinguished
by smaller and more numerous seas. These were, towards the north, the
_Mare Frigoris_, in north latitude 55 deg. and longitude 0 deg., with 76,000
square leagues of surface, which joined the Lake of Death and Lake of
Dreams; the Sea of Serenity, _Mare Serenitatis_, by north latitude 25 deg.
and west longitude 20 deg., comprising a surface of 80,000 square leagues;
the Sea of Crises, _Mare Crisium_, round and very compact, in north
latitude 17 deg. and west longitude 55 deg., a surface of 40,000 square leagues,
a veritable Caspian buried in a girdle of mountains. Then on the
equator, in north latitude 5 deg. and west longitude 25 deg., appeared the Sea
of Tranquillity, _Mare Tranquillitatis_, occupying 121,509 square
leagues of surface; this sea communicated on the south with the Sea of
Nectar, _Mare Nectaris_, an extent of 28,800 square leagues, in south
latitude 15 deg. and west longitude 35 deg., and on the east with the Sea of
Fecundity, _Mare Fecunditatis_, the vastest in this hemisphere,
occupying 219,300 square leagues, in south latitude 3 deg. and west
longitude 50 deg.. Lastly, quite to the north and quite to the south lie two
more seas, the Sea of Humboldt, _Mare Humboldtianum_, with a surface of
6,500 square leagues, and the Southern Sea, _Mare Australe_, with a
surface of 26,000.
In the centre of the lunar disc, across the equator and on the zero
meridian, lies the centre gulf, _Sinus Medii_, a sort of hyphen between
the two hemispheres.
Thus appeared to the eyes of Nicholl and Barbicane the surface always
visible of the earth's satellite. When they added up these different
figures they found that the surface of this hemisphere measured