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If you imagine these bodies to be revolving in a plane around the Sun and yourself to be standing within the Sun, the motions of these bodies will appear almost uniform and always in one direction.Were the orbits of the planets circular and the Sun holding the centre of the circle, their motions would be constant, that is to say, always in the same direction and at the same rate.The Greek mythology is nothing but a vast system of cosmographical astrology, and there is no other history in it than what you may read in the constellations of the heavens and the corresponding evolution of the human race. Hipparchus, Hippocrates, Thales, Galenius, and others subscribed an intelligent belief in its principles.To Claudius Ptolemy, however, we are indebted for the first concise and scientific statement of its principles and practice, so far as Europe is concerned.
The present writer is in a position to know that the study of astrology at the present day is no less sincere than widely spread, but few care to let their studies be known, for, as Prof. Max M�ller recently said, “So great is the ignorance which confounds a science requiring the highest education, with that of the ordinary gipsy fortune-teller.” That to which the great Kepler was compelled “by his unfailing experience of the course of events in harmony with the changes taking place in the heavens,” to subscribe “an unwilling belief,” the science which was practised and advocated by Tycho Brahe under all assaults of fortune and adverse opinion, the art that arrested the attention of the young Newton and set him pondering upon the problems of force and matter, which fascinated the minds of such men as Francis Bacon, Archbishop Usher, Haley, Sir George Witchell, Flamstead, and a host of others, is to-day the favourite theme of thousands of intelligent minds and bids fair to become a subject of popular inquiry.
As far back as the year 2154, we find mention of the great importance attaching to the celestial phenomena in the minds of Chinese rulers.
It is recorded in the Historical Classic of China that at that time the astrologers Hi and Ho neglected their duties so that when, on the 10th of October, there was a great eclipse of the Sun at Peking between seven and nine o’clock in the morning, the people were wholly unprepared for it, and “ran about here and there in the utmost consternation.” For this offence Hi and Ho were deprived of their offices, their estates were confiscated and they were driven from the kingdom.
When at aphelion the planets move slower, and when at perihelion they move quicker than at the mean distance.
Astronomers employ an imaginary circular orbit for the planets, in which they move at an uniform rate of velocity, which is called the mean motion.