From the Earth to the Moon HTML version
Chapter 4. Reply From The Observatory Of Cambridge
Barbicane, however, lost not one moment amid all the enthusiasm of which he had
become the object. His first care was to reassemble his colleagues in the board-room of
the Gun Club. There, after some discussion, it was agreed to consult the astronomers
regarding the astronomical part of the enterprise. Their reply once ascertained, they could
then discuss the mechanical means, and nothing should be wanting to ensure the success
of this great experiment.
A note couched in precise terms, containing special interrogatories, was then drawn up
and addressed to the Observatory of Cambridge in Massachusetts. This city, where the
first university of the United States was founded, is justly celebrated for its astronomical
staff. There are to be found assembled all the most eminent men of science. Here is to be
seen at work that powerful telescope which enabled Bond to resolve the nebula of
Andromeda, and Clarke to discover the satellite of Sirius. This celebrated institution fully
justified on all points the confidence reposed in it by the Gun Club. So, after two days,
the reply so impatiently awaited was placed in the hands of President Barbicane.
It was couched in the following terms:
The Director of the Cambridge Observatory to the President of the Gun Club at
CAMBRIDGE, October 7.
On the receipt of your favor of the 6th instant, addressed to the Observatory of
Cambridge in the name of the members of the Baltimore Gun Club, our staff was
immediately called together, and it was judged expedient to reply as follows:
The questions which have been proposed to it are these--
"1. Is it possible to transmit a projectile up to the moon?
"2. What is the exact distance which separates the earth from its satellite?
"3. What will be the period of transit of the projectile when endowed with sufficient
initial velocity? and, consequently, at what moment ought it to be discharged in order that
it may touch the moon at a particular point?
"4. At what precise moment will the moon present herself in the most favorable position
to be reached by the projectile?
"5. What point in the heavens ought the cannon to be aimed at which is intended to
discharge the projectile?