A Journey in Other Worlds HTML version
and only about fifty thousand miles off, it presented a splendid sight, brilliant as polished
silver, and about twenty-five times as large as they had ever before seen it with the
It was just ten hours since they had started, and at that moment 9 A. M. in New York;
but, though it was night there, the Callisto was bathed in a flood of sunlight such as never
shines on earth. The only night they would have was on the side of the Callisto turned
away from the sun, unless they passed through some shadow, which they intended to
avoid on account of the danger of colliding with a meteor in the dark. The moon and the
Callisto were moving on converging lines, the curve on which they had entered having
swung them to the side nearest the earth; but they saw that their own tremendous and
increasing speed would carry them in front of the moon in its nearly circular orbit.
Wishing to change the direction of their flight by the moon's attraction, they shut off the
power driving them from the earth, whereupon the Callisto turned its heavy base towards
the moon. They were already moving at such speed that their momentum alone would
carry them hundreds of thousands of miles into space, and were then almost abreast of the
earth's satellite, which was but a few thousand miles away. The spectacle was
magnificent. As they looked at it through their field glasses or with the unaided eye, the
great cracks and craters showed with the utmost clearness, sweeping past them almost as
the landscape flies past a railway train. There was something awe-inspiring in the vast
antiquity of that furrowed lunar surface, by far the oldest thing that mortal eye can see,
since, while observing the ceaseless political or geological changes on earth, the face of
this dead satellite, on account of the absence of air and water and consequent erosion, has
remained unchanged for bygone ages, as it doubtless will for many more.
They closely watched the Callisto's course. At first it did not seem to deflect from a
straight line, and they stood ready to turn on the apergetic force again, when the car very
slowly began to show the effect of the moon's near pull; but not till they had so far passed
it that the dark side was towards them were they heading straight for Jupiter. Then they
again turned on full power and got a send-off shove on the moon and earth combined,
which increased their speed so rapidly that they felt they could soon shut off the current
altogether and save their supply.
"We must be ready to watch the signals from the arctic circle," said Bearwarden. "At
midnight, if the calculations are finished, the result will be flashed by the searchlight." It
was then ten minutes to twelve, and the earth was already over four hundred thousand
miles away. Focusing their glasses upon the region near the north pole, which, being
turned from the sun, was towards them and in darkness, they waited.
"In this blaze of sunlight," said Cortlandt, "I am afraid we can see nothing."
Fortunately, at this moment the Callisto entered the moon's tapering shadow.
"This," said Ayrault, "is good luck. We could of course have gone into the shadow; but to
change our course would have delayed us, and we might have lost part of the chance of
increasing our speed."