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Book II Jules Verne

A Revised Calendar

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Such in his solitude were old Isaac's cogitations, whilst the universal population of Nina's Hive were congratulating themselves upon being rid of his odious presence.

As already stated in the message brought by the carrier pigeon, the distance traveled by Gallia in April was 39,000,000 leagues, and at the end of the month she was 110,000,000 leagues from the sun. A diagram representing the elliptical orbit of the planet, accompanied by an ephemeris made out in minute detail, had been drawn out by the professor. The curve was divided into twenty-four sections of unequal length, representing respectively the distance described in the twenty-four months of the Gallian year, the twelve former divisions, according to Kepler's law, gradually diminishing in length as they approached the point denoting the aphelion and increasing as they neared the perihelion.

It was on the 12th of May that Rosette exhibited this result of his labors to Servadac, the count, and the lieutenant, who visited his apartment and naturally examined the drawing with the keenest interest. Gallia's path, extending beyond the orbit of Jupiter, lay clearly defined before their eyes, the progress along the orbit and the solar distances being inserted for each month separately. Nothing could look plainer, and if the professor's calculations were correct (a point upon which they dared not, if they would, express the semblance of a doubt), Gallia would accomplish her revolution in precisely two years, and would meet the earth, which would in the same period of time have completed two annual revolutions, in the very same spot as before. What would be the consequences of a second collision they scarcely ventured to think.

Without lifting his eye from the diagram, which he was still carefully scrutinizing, Servadac said, "I see that during the month of May, Gallia will only travel 30,400,000 leagues, and that this will leave her about 140,000,000 leagues distant from the sun."

"Just so," replied the professor.

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"Then we have already passed the zone of the telescopic planets, have we not?" asked the count.

"Can you not use your eyes?" said the professor, testily. "If you will look you will see the zone marked clearly enough upon the map."

Without noticing the interruption, Servadac continued his own remarks, "The comet then, I see, is to reach its aphelion on the 15th of January, exactly a twelvemonth after passing its perihelion."

"A twelvemonth! Not a Gallian twelvemonth?" exclaimed Rosette.

Servadac looked bewildered. Lieutenant Procope could not suppress a smile.

"What are you laughing at?" demanded the professor, turning round upon him angrily.

"Nothing, sir; only it amuses me to see how you want to revise the terrestrial calendar."

"I want to be logical, that's all."

"By all manner of means, my dear professor, let us be logical."

"Well, then, listen to me," resumed the professor, stiffly. "I presume you are taking it for granted that the Gallian year-- by which I mean the time in which Gallia makes one revolution round the sun--is equal in length to two terrestrial years."

They signified their assent.

"And that year, like every other year, ought to be divided into twelve months."

"Yes, certainly, if you wish it," said the captain, acquiescing.

"If I wish it!" exclaimed Rosette. "Nothing of the sort! Of course a year must have twelve months!"

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Off on a Comet
Jules Verne

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