The Aeronauts is a book by James Glaisher, a pioneer of the scientific meteorology. He was an English aeronaut and astronomer during the mid-1800s. He had undoubtedly an adventurous life measuring the atmosphere at different altitudes in a hot air balloon. It is the third novel in my second list of books.
About the Author
James Glaisher was one of the founders of the actual Royal Meteorological Society back to the year 1850. He held different roles in several institutions such as the Royal Society, Royal Astronomical Society and the Royal Aeronautical Society. Since his childhood, he developed an interest in meteorology, having access to the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. James performed flights up to heights of 11 km above the ground, with twenty-eight ascents with Henry Coxwell, his pilot. He aimed to measure the atmosphere at high altitudes, to get information about the temperature and humidity at different elevations. The Aeronauts edition comes from the 1871 book Travels in the Air, and it is about the aerial journeys of James Glaisher.
The Aeronauts: Travels in the Air
As James Glaisher wrote: “There are no frontiers in the reign of thoughts, and the conquests of the human mind belong to all the world, yet each civilised nation is called upon to give its contingent to the great work of the study of nature and to choose those branches which are most suited to its genius”. This book is about the chronicles of his ascents in England, starting from 1862 to 1865. Glaisher describes the beauty of a clear night over London in his several ascents and looking through a telescope a part of the Milky Way. Above the clouds, all seems to be so different. It is a vast continent above the earth; an upper world where there are silence and calm.
As soon as the elevation increases, the sky has a deep blue colour, and when there is vapour, the colour is an intense Prussian blue. The beauty of the clouds is more notable in an autumn morning before sunrise. In another section of The Aeronauts, Glaisher describes a beautiful and detailed view of London. He could have a distinct glance of several homes, being the city of London visible, including the suburbs. And he portrays the countryside as a garden with well-marked fields, with a complete view of the Thames. The discovery of the balloon is one of the most important inventions in human history. Indeed, the balloon is an instrument that allowed exploring the atmosphere, a natural laboratory so crucial for chemists, meteorologists and physicists.