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MARS


when seen from the moon. With each improvement in the telescope the numerous drawings of the planet show more definiteness and certainty in details. About 1830 a fairly good map was made by W. Beer and ]. H. Madler, a work which has been repeated by a number of observers since that time. The volume of literature on the subject, illustrated by drawings and maps, has become so great that it is impossible here to present even an abstract of it; and it would not be practicable, even were it instructive, to enter upon any detailed description of Martian topography. A few great and well marked features were depicted by the earliest observers, who saw them so plainly that they may be recognized by their drawings at the present time. There is also a general agreement among nearly all observers, with good instruments as to the general features of the planet, but even in the latest drawings there is a marked .divergence as to the minuter details. This is especially true of the boundaries of the more ill-defined regions, and of the faint and difficult markings of various kinds which are very numerous on every part of the planet. There is not even a close agreement between the drawings by the same observer at different oppositions; but this may be largely due to seasonal and other changes.

The most striking feature, and one which shows the greatest resemblance to a familiar terrestrial process, is that when either polar region comes into view after being turned nearly a year away from the sun, it is found to be covered with a white cap. This gradually contracts in extent as the sun shines upon it during the remaining half of the Martian year, sometimes nearly disappearing. That this change is due to the precipitation of watery vapour in the form of ice, snow or frost during the winter, and its melting or evaporation when exposed to the sun's rays, is so obvious a conclusion that it has never been seriously questioned. It has indeed been suggested that the deposit may be frozen carbonic acid. While we cannot pronounce this out of the question, the probabilities seem in favour of the deposit being due to the precipitation of 'aqueous vapour in a frozen form. At a temperature of -50° C, which is far above what we can suppose to prevail in the polar regions during the winter, the tension of aqueous vapour is O'O34 mm. On the other ha.nd Faraday found the tension of carbonic acid to be still an entire atmosphere at as low a temperature as -80° C. Numerically exact statements are impossible owing to our want of knowledge of the actual temperature, which must depend partly upon air currents between the equator and the poles of Mars. It can, however, be said, in a general wav, that a proportion of aqueous vapour in the rare atmosphere of Mars, far smaller than that which prevails on the earth, would suffice to explain the observed formation and disappearances of the polar caps. Since every improvement in the telescope and in the conditions of observation must enable modern observers to see all that their predecessors did and yet more, we shall confine our statements to the latest results. These may be derived from the work of Professor Lowell of Boston, who in 1894 founded an observatory at Flagstaff, Arizona, 7250 ft. above sea-level, and supplied it with a 24” telescope, of which the main purpose was the study of Mars. This work has been continued with such care and assiduity that its results must take precedence of all others in everything that relates to our present subject.1

Among the more probable conclusions to be drawn from Lowell's observations, the following are of most interest. The darker areas are all seamed by lines and dots darker than themselves, which are permanent in position, so that there can be no bodies of water on the planet. On the other hand, 'their colour, blue-green, is that of vegetation. This fades out as vegetation would at certain seasons to faint blue-green, but in some places to a tawny brown. Each hemisphere undergoes these changes in its turn, the changes being opposite in opposite The great space penetration of the Lowell Observatory is shown in the case of stars. More stars have been mapped there in a given space than at the Lick, and Mr Ritchey of the Yerkes Observatory found stars easily visible there which were only just perceptible at Yerkes.

hemispheres. The changes in the dark areas follow some time after the, melting of the polar caps. The aspect of these areas suggests old sea bottoms, and when on the terminator appear as depressions, though this may be only apparent and due to the dark colour. The smoothness and soft outline of the terminator shows that there are no mountains on Mars comparable with ours, but that the surface is surprisingly flat. White spots are occasionally visible in the tropical and temperate regions, which are perhaps due to the condensation of frost or snow, or to saline exudation such as seasonally occurs in India (Lowell). Moreover in winter the temperate zones are more or less covered by a. whitish veil, which may be either hoar frost or cloud. 'A spring haze seems to surround the north polar cap during its most extensive melting; otherwise the Martian sky is quite clear, like that of a dry desert land. When either polar cap is melting it is bordered by a bluish area, which Lowell attributes to the water produced by the melting. But the obliquity at which the sun's rays strike the surface as the cap is melting away is so great that it would seem to preclude the possibility of a temperature high enough to melt the snow into water. Under the low barometric pressure prevailing on the planet, snow would evaporate under the influence of the sun's rays without changing into water. It is also contended that what looks like such a bluish border may be formed around a bright area by the secondary aberration of a refracting telescope.”

The modern studies of Mars which have aroused so much public interest began with the work of Schiaparelli” in 1877. Accepting the term “ ocean, ” used by the older observers, to designate the widely extended darker regions on the planet, and holding that they were really bodies of water, he found that they were connected by comparatively narrow streaks. (Schiaparelli considered them really water until after the Lowell observations.) In accordance with the adopted system of nomenclature, he termed these streaks canale, a word of which the proper rendering into English would be channels. But the word was actually translated into both English and French as canal, thus connoting artificiality in the supposed Waterways, which were attributed to the inhabitants of the planet. The fact that they were many miles in breadth, and that it was therefore absurd to call them canals, did not prevent this term from being so extensively used that it is now scarcely possible to do away with it. A second series of observations was made by Schiaparelli at the opposition of 1879, when the planet was farther away, but was better situated as to altitude above the horizon. He now found a number of additional channels, which were much finer than those he had previously drawn. The great interest attaching to their seemingly artificial character gave an impetus to telescopic study of the planet which has continued to the present time. New canals were added, especially at the Lowell Observatory, until the entire number listed in 1908 amounted to more than 585. The general character of this complex system of lines is described by Lowell as a network covering the whole face of the planet, light and dark regions alike, and connecting at either end with the respective polar caps there. At their junctions are small dark pinheads of spots. The lines vary in size between themselves, but each maintains its own width throughout. But the more difficult of these objects are only seen occasionally and are variable in definiteness. Of two canals equally well situated for seeing, only one may be visible at one time and only the other at other times. If this variability of aspect among different canals is true as they are seen from the Lowell Observatory, we find it true to a much greater extent when we compare descriptions by different observers. At Flagstaff, the most favourably situated of all the points of observation, they are seen as fine sharp lines, sometimes' as well marked as if drawn with a pencil. But other observers see them with varying degrees of breadth and diffuseness.

One remarkable feature of these objects is their occasional 2 As against this, Lowell's answer is that the effect is not optical; for the belt surrounds the melt/ing, not the making cap.