This is a groat luminous bund which stretches every evening all across the sky. At one part it sends off a kind of branch which again unites with the main body after remaining distant for about 150 degrees. This remarkable belt has, from the earliest ages of which we have any record, maintained the same place among the stars; and when examined through a powerful telescope it is found to be composed of myriads of glittering stars, scattered in groups of millions, like glistening dust, on the black ground of the general heavens. Sir William Herschel has divided it into a number of nebulous systems, or separate clusters of stars, and has described their appearances and shapes ; but, as yet, it is to us but the shadowy outline of another branch of astronomical research which will require more powerful instruments and more human genius than is now at command, for its exploration. THE HARD TIMES have finally seized hold of various portions of Europe, and a regular panic has set in, similar to the one from which we are now recovering. In spite of these disasters, MUNN & Co. continue to pay. On the 1st of January next, they will begin to distribute Fifteen Hundred Dollars to those fortunate individuals who succeed in procuring the largest lists of subscribers, viz. :—$300 for the largest list, $250 for the second, $200 for the third, and so on, down to $20, which sum is for the smallest out of the entire fifteen. Many an honest, hard-working mechanic will be glad to get even the smallest prize. Only one month remains, and still the lists already sent in are not what they ought to be in view of the generous premiums we offer. Go to work, friends, and do all you can for your favorite journal; your pay is sure. FORTY-THREE PATENTS have been issued within the past three weeks to inventors whose papers were prepared at the Scientific American Patent Office. We are confident that such success is without a parallel in the history of any other patent agency. The advantage of our Washington Branch, and our vigorous prosecution of rejected cases, are telling with wonderful effect upon the interests intrusted to our care. The management of the Patent Office is liberal and comprehensive, and the various Examiners are industrious and capable. PRELIMINARY EXAMINATIONS are generally recommended when inventors wish to apply for patents through the Scientific American Patent Agency. Upon the receipt of a sketch and description of the invention, and a fee of five dollars, we cause a thorough search to be made at the Patent Office in Washington by our Branch Agency, and prepare a careful report setting forth the prospects likely to attend an application for a patent. A circular embracing more particular advice is sent free, upon application at the office of the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN.