Biography of Percival Lowell

By A. Lawrence Lowell | Go to book overview

CHAPTER X
MARS

MEANWHILE the work of the Observatory went on, partly in the direction of the special lines of the several observers, but mainly in that of the founder whose interest was then predominantly planetary, especially in Mars; and from this the site of the dome came to be called Mars Hill. The clear atmosphere yielded the results that had been hoped for, and much was discovered about the planets, their period of rotation, satellites etc., but above all were the Martian observations fruitful. There the object was to watch the seasonal changes beginning with the vernal equinox, or spring of the southern hemisphere, the one inclined toward the earth when the two bodies approach most closely, and follow them through the summer and autumn of our neighbor. For those not familiar with the topography of Mars it may be said that the greater part of its surface is a reddish or orange color interspersed with patches or broken bands of a blue, or greenish blue, in the southern temperate zone. These had been supposed to be seas, and are still known by names recalling that opinion, while the lighter regions derived their nomenclature from the theory that they are continents or islands standing out of the water. This is confusing, but must be borne in mind by anyone who looks at a map of the planet and tries to understand the meaning of the terms. There are several reasons for thinking that the dark

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