Of late years the number of those who take a more or less active interest in the science of astronomy seems to be rapidly increasing. The published descriptions of recently established ob-servatories and the notices and reports of the results accomplished, with the increasing accessibility and reasonable prices of telescopes, have done much to foster this interest, and the increased facilities for scientific education, with the consequent increased frequency of the development of the scientific habit of mind, perhaps still more.

Many of those, however, who have procured telescopes after they have exhausted (save the mark! ) the well-known objects, are at a loss to know how further to employ their instruments, and what to look for with them; many would like to engage in some course of observations which may have a real value, but do not know how to set about it, nor where to get the information necessary to enable them to do so.

Information and material exist in great abundance, but much of it is difficult of access; mostly scattered through the pages of various polyglot scientific periodicals, whose names the amateur may never even have heard, and couched in languages with which he may be unfamiliar. In many cases, also, he has not the time at his disposal to search for it.

To help such cases is one of the principal reasons for the existence of the astronomical department of this magazine.

For this purpose, as supplementary to the regular articles, it is our intention to open a regular column of answers to correspondents, in which we will endeavor to give replies to any questions which lie outside the scope of the textbooks and encyclopedias, or, where it can be done, give directions where and how to find the desired information or material, and thus encourage the habit of independent research, on which depends all real scientific growth.

We cannot undertake to answer all queries individually and personally, but will give them a place, when not outside the limit set above, in the column of Answers to Correspondents.

We shall be glad to welcome to our columns any original papers that may be offered, reserving, however, the right of rejecting any that from whatever reason we may consider to be unsuitable.

It is our purpose to open these columns to discussions on astronomical questions, so long as such discussions are carried on in a scientific spirit, and with due regard to courtesy ; and we shall ourselves assume the sole right of judgment in this connection also as to where the line lies, and of excluding any communication in which we find it to be overstepped.

In some departments of astronomy much of the world's stock of information has been furnished, and many discoveries made, by amateurs; Tycho, Herschel, Rosse, Smyth, Dawes, Burnham, Barnard, - to name but a few of the long list, - all made their reputations as amateurs, and many have remained so to the end. It does not happen to every one to do such things as these have done, but any one who does faithful and conscientious work in the true scientific spirit will find himself welcomed to the fellowship of such men, and sure of their sympathy, appreciation and encouragement in any good work he may undertake; and this sort of sympathetic freemasonry is one of the great compensations of the scientific life, which is in no sense a life of ease or luxury.

Of course not all amateurs have the intention or the opportunity to go so far as this, but many soon tire of a desultory course of "star-gazing" (an expression always used with a certain undertone of contempt among the real workers), and wish to engage in some line, however limited, of original work. The reader would be surprised to learn to how great an extent our observatory staffs have been recruited from this element; and this not from the men of national reputation, but from those only known among the workers themselves.

The true scientific spirit is well voiced by Kenyon Cox in some fine lines which, though written for the artist, find a response in the heart of every man possessed of the true purpose:

" Who works for glory misses oft the goal; Who works for money coins his very soul.

" Work for the work's sake, then, and it may be That these things shall be added unto thee."