, an azure transparent orb investing our earth, where the celestial bodies perform their motions. It is of divers denominations, as the highest or empyrean Heaven, the etherial or starry Heaven, the planetary Heaven, &c.

Formerly the Heavens were considered as solid substances, or else as spaces full of solid matter; but Newton has abundantly shewn that the Heavens are void of almost all resistance, and consequently of almost all matter: this he proves from the phenomena of the celestial bodies; from the planets persisting in their motions, without any sensible diminution of their velocity; and the comets freely passing in all directions towards all parts of the Heavens.

Heaven, taken in this general sense, or the whole expanse between our earth and the remotest regions of the fixed stars, may be divided into two very unequal parts, according to the matter occupying them; viz, the atmosphere or aereal Heaven, possessed by air; and the ethereal Heaven, possessed by a thin and unresisting medium, called ether.

Heaven is more particularly used, in Astronomy, for an orb, or circular region, of the ethereal Heaven.

The ancient astronomers assumed as many different Heavens as they observed different celestial motions. All these they made solid, thinking they could not otherwise sustain the bodies fixed in them; and of a spherical form, as being the most proper for motion. Thus they had seven Heavens for the seven planets; viz, the Heavens of the Moon, Mercury, Venus, the Sun, Mars, Jupiter, and Saturn. The 8th was for the fixed stars, which they particularly called the firmament. Ptolomy added a 9th Heaven, which he called the primum mobile. After him two crystalline Heavens were added by king Alphonsus, &c, to account for some irregularities in the motions of the other Heavens. And lastly an empyrean Heaven was drawn over the whole for the residence of the Deity; which made the number 12.

But others admitted many other Heavens, according as their different views and hypotheses required. Eudoxus supposed 23, Calippus 30, Regiomontanus 33, Aristotle 47, and Fracastor no less than 70.

The astronomers however did not much concern themselves whether the Heavens they thus allowed, were real or not; provided they served a purpose in accounting for any of the celestial motions, and agreed with the phenomena.

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Entry taken from A Mathematical and Philosophical Dictionary, by Charles Hutton, 1796.

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HARRIOT (Thomas)
HAYES (Charles, Esq.)