Transition Studies 9
It seemed scarcely possible to believe that the light of the Corona was other than the rays from the sun made visible in some incomprehensible manner round the edge of the moon, the appearance being eminently suggestive of a brilliant glistening body, hidden behind a screen. The nearest resemblance I can think of, to express my meaning (not that I am to be understood as supposing the remotest analogy between the causes of the two appearances), is the effect of a jet of water, playing from behind against some obstacle, and throwing an irregular halo of spray around it, on all sides. That a reasonable foundation may exist for ascribing the Corona to some diversion of the ordinary rays of the sun, however unintelligible the cause of this diversion may be, and not to a luminous atmosphere surrounding the sun, was powerfully impressed on me by certain appearances that were observed when 'totality was passed : they were these. Four or five minutes after the reappearance of the sun, Mr Atwood called attention to remarkable luminous radiations, like sunbeams slanting through a cloud, and proceeding in narrow but long brushes from the cusps of the sun. They changed their angular directions and even their shapes with such rapidity, that I was almost bewildered in a first attempt to draw them. If I looked down on my paper to draw a few strokes, the appearance had become changed, when
I again raised my head. Nevertheless between 3 h. 11 m. and 3 h. 13 m. I managed to make three sketches; the two that were most characteristic are here very fairly represented. After 3 h. 13 m. the light of the emerging sun was too strong to admit of further observations. The brushes were perfectly distinct and unmistakeable, they were best seen by holding up the hand so as to mask the sun, and they were perfectly visible through the telescope when it was so turned as to exclude the sun. There was no mistake whatever about their existence. I trust that the attention of observers of future eclipses will be directed to them, both before and after totality. Now whatever may have been the cause of the brushes, would also, I should guess, be competent to create the greater part of the Corona; the two appearances being of identically the same genus. It will be observed that the brushes in Fig. 31 enclose an angle of about 130° on the side of the emergent sun, and that the same angle had changed to about 195° in Fig. 4,
to say nothing of the, appearance of a central bar of light. The angular change of the brushes was continuous, so long as I had an opportunity of looking continuously at them.
I have since often looked for, and have only just seen (Sunday Feb. 10th 2), an almost precise
' See Figs. 3 and 4, p. 10. 2 Presumably 1861.