When I was Rather Young, I’d read of a book “A Budget of Paradoxes” by Augustus De Morgan (yes, of the Theorem) and in those pre-(public access) Internet days, that meant I was really lucky if the local library had it, and still pretty fortunate if it could be had via inter-library loan (ILL). To my shock, I got a copy of a book printed in the 19th century through ILL, and was trusted with the thing at that rather youthful age.
There were bits about the (at or near publication time) recent polar expeditions, the nonsense of “circle squarers” who wanted to re-define pi to something simpler, and various things – most of which I’ve long forgotten. I could, if I felt like it, almost certainly find the text on Project Gutenberg. One thing I did recall, despite not drinking then and not for many years after, was the Astronomer’s Drinking Song which had the exhortation to drink a bottle (of wine) a day. Particularly memorable was the last verse, about dining by the sidereal clock for that extra bottle a year.
I’m not sure if I read that before or after reading a history of the hunt for Planet X, which Pluto was thought to be, and Clyde Tombaugh at the guidescope on long nights listening to the solar and sidereal clocks drift seemingly in and out of phase (not the case, not a phase difference, but frequency) due to the slightly different timing. The sidereal day is a bit under four minutes shorter than the solar day. A solar day is what it sounds like: it’s the time from the sun is at one point in the sky one day until it’s at the same point (or as close as can be) the next. The “normal” day for people. The sidereal day uses not the sun, but a distant star (pick one) the same way. Since the earth is orbiting the sun, but not the other star(s) – and those stars are also not orbiting the sun, there is a difference.
As for astronomy by eye (whether at the telescope or simple stargazing) alcohol (and presumably any CNS depressant) is best avoided – such affects night vision negatively. Caffeine (and presumably other stimulants) offer a boost. There was an article about such, someone having run the experiment at/on Mauna Kea – though if I recall right, the biggest boost was from oxygen. Hardly a surprise at 14,000 feet!
which has annotations and corrections.
WHOE’ER would search the starry sky,
Its secrets to divine, Sir,
Should take his glass – I mean, should try
A glass or two of wine, Sir.
True virtue lies i’ th’ golden mean,
And man must wet his clay, Sir;
Join these two maxims and ’tis seen
He should drink he bottle a-day, Sir.
Old Archimedes, reverent sage!
By trump of fame renowned, Sir,
Deep problems solved in every page,
And the sphere’s curved surface found, Sir:
Himself he would have far outshone,
And borne a wider sway, Sir,
Had he our modern secret known,
And drunk his bottle a-day, Sir.
When Ptolemy, now long ago,
Believed the earth stood still, Sir,
He never would have blundered so,
Had he but drunk his fill, Sir:
He’d then have felt it circulate,
And would have learned to say, Sir,
The true way to investigate
Is to drink your bottle a-day, Sir.
Copernicus, that learned wight,
The glory of his nation,
With floods of wine refreshed his sight,
And saw the earth’s rotation.
Each planet then its orb described,
The moon got under way, Sir;
These truths from nature he imbibed,
For he drank his bottle a-day, Sir.
The noble Tycho placed the stars
Each in its due location;
He lost the nose by spite of Mars,
But that was no privation.
Had he but lost his mouth, I grant,
He would have felt dismay, Sir,
Bless you! he knew what he should want
To drink his bottle a-day, Sir.
Cold water makes no lucky hits;
On mysteries the head runs:
Small drink let Kepler tune his wits
On the regular polyhedrons.
He took to wine and it changed the chime;
His genius swept away, Sir,
Though area varying as the time
At the rate of a bottle a-day, Sir.
Poor Galileo, forced to rat
Before the Inquisition,
E pur si muove was the pat
He gave them in addition.
He meant – Whate’er you think you prove
The earth must go its way, Sire,
Spite of your teeth I’ll make it move,
For I’ll drink my bottle a-day, Sirs.
Great Newton, who was never beat,
Whatever fools may think, Sir,
Though sometimes he forgot to eat,
He never forgot to drink, Sir.
Descartes took nought but lemonade;
To conquer him was play, Sir:
The first advance that Newton made
Was to drink his bottle a-day, Sir.
The Pascal-forger thinks, perhaps,
That Newton must sing small, Sir,
Before ten thousand little scraps,
With signatures to all, Sir.
But they’re not worth their count in pence,
As many to one I’d lay, Sir,
That Pascal never had the sense
To drink his bottle a-day Sir.
D’Alembert, Euler, and Clairaut,
Though they increased our store, Sir,
Much farther had been seen to go
Had they tippled a little more, Sir.
Lagrange gets mellow with Laplace,
And both are wont to say, Sir,
The philosophe who’d not an ass
Will drink his bottle a-day, Sir!
Astronomers! what can avail
Those who calumniate us:
Experiment can never fail
With such an apparatus.
Let those who’d have their merits known
Remember what I say, Sir;
Fair science shines on him alone
Who drinks his bottle a-day, Sir.
How light we reck of those who mock
By this we’ll make t’appear, Sir,
We’ll dine by the sidereal clock,
For one more bottle a-year, Sir.
But choose which pendulum you will,
You’ll never make your way, Sir,
Unless you drink, and drink your fill,
At least a bottle a-day, Sir.