During the first four months of the year, the constellation Orion is very favourably situated for observation in the evening. This magnificent asterism is more easily recognised than the Great Bear, Cassiopeia's Chair, or the fine festoon of stars which adorns the constellation Perseus. There is, indeed, a peculiarity about Orion which tends considerably to facilitate recognition. The other constellations named above, gyrate round the pole in a manner which presents them to us in continually varying positions. It is not so with Orion. Divided centrally by the equator, the mighty hunter continues twelve hours above and twelve hours below the horizon. His shoulders are visible somewhat more, his feet somewhat less, than twelve hours. When he is in the south, he is seen as a giant with upraised arms, erect, and having one knee bent, as if he were ascending a height. Before him, as if raised on his left arm, is a curve of small stars, forming the shield, or target of lion's skin, which he is represented as uprearing in the face of Taurus. When Orion is in the east, his figure is inclined backwards; when he is setting, he seems to be bent forwards, as if rushing down a height; but he is never seen in an inverted position, like the northern constellations.

And we may note in passing, that the figure of Orion, as he sets, does not exactly correspond with the image presented in that fine passage in Maud:

I arose, and all by myself, in my own dark garden ground, Listening now to the tide, in its broadflung shipwrecking roar, Now to the scream of a maddened beach dragged down by the wave, Walked in a wintry wind, by a ghastly glimmer, and found The shining Daffodil dead, and Orion low in his grave; and again, towards the end of the poem:

It fell on a time of year "When the face of night is fair on the dewy downs, And the shining Daffodil dies, and the charioteer And starry Gemini hang like glorious crowns Over Orion's grave low down in the West.

I would not, however, for one moment be understood as finding fault with these passages of Tennyson's finest poem. Detached from the context, the image is undoubtedly faulty; but there is a correctness in the very incorrectness of the image, placed as it is in the mouth of one

Raging alone as his father raged in his mood; brooding evermore on his father's self-murder:

On a horror of shattered limbs .... Mangled and flattened and crushed.

Let us pass on, however, to the subject of our paper.

Beneath the three bright stars which form the belt of Orion, are several small stars, ranged, when Orion is in the south, in a vertical direction. These form the sword of the giant. On a clear night it is easy to see that the middle star of the sword presents a peculiarity of appearance: it shines as through a diffused haze.

In an opera-glass this phenomenon is yet more easily-recognisable. A very small telescope exhibits the cause of the peculiarity, for it is at once seen, that what seemed a star is in reality a mass of small stars intermixed with a diffused nebulosity.

It is a very remarkable circumstance that Galileo, whose small telescope, directed to the clear skies of Italy, revealed so many interesting phenomena, failed to detect

That marvellous round of milky light Below Orion.

It would not, indeed, have been very remarkable if he had simply failed to notice this object. But he would seem to have directed his attention for some time especially to the region in the midst of which Orion's nebula is found. He says: 'At first I meant to delineate the whole of this constellation; but on account of the immense multitude of stars-being also hampered through want of leisure- -I left the completion of this design till I should have another opportunity.'He therefore directed his attention wholly to a space of about ten square degrees, between the belt and sword, in which space he counted no less than four hundred stars. What is yet more remarkable, he mentions the fact that there are many small spots on the heavens shining with a light resembling that of the Milky Way (complures similis coloris areolae sparsim per aethera subfulgeant); and he even speaks of nebulas of this sort in the head and belt and sword of Orion. He asserts, however, that by means of his telescope, these nebulae were distinctly resolved into stars-a circumstance which, as we shall see presently, renders his description wholly inapplicable to the great nebula. Yet the very star around which (in the naked-eye view) this nebula appears to cling, is figured in Galileo's drawing of the belt and sword of Orion!

It seems almost inconceivable that Galileo should have overlooked the nebula, assuming its appearance in his day to have resembled that which it has at present. And as it appears to have been established, that if the nebula has changed at all during the past century it has changed very slowly indeed, one can scarcely believe that in Galileo's time it should have presented a very different aspect. Is it possible that the view suggested by Humboldt is correct - that Galileo did not see the nebula because he did not wish to see it? 'Galileo,' says Humboldt, 'was disinclined to admit or assume the existence of starless nebulae.' Long after the discovery of the great nebula in Andromeda -known as 'the transcendently beautiful queen of the nebulae' - Galileo omitted all mention in his works of any but starry nebulae. The last-named nebula was discovered in 1614, by Simon Marius, whose claims to the discovery of Jupiter's satellites had greatly angered Galileo, and had called forth a torrent of invective, in which the Protestant German was abused as a heretic by Galileo, little aware that he would himself before long incur the displeasure of the Church. If we could suppose that an unwillingness, either to confirm his rival's discovery of a starless nebula, or to acknowledge that he had himself fallen into an error on the subject of nebulae, prevented Galileo from speaking about the great nebula in Orion, we should be compelled to form but a low opinion of his honesty. It happens too frequently that