The Mars probe Schiaparelli has been detached and is heading for the surface of the red planet. It is slated to land Wednesday. So, I got on an internet tangent. It led me to all things Mars. Nasa has some wicked cool stuff on their site (of course).
I was curious about the works of Giovanni Schiaparelli, the namesake of the probe. I knew he was an astronomer from Italy, but that was about it.
Schiaparelli had a long and productive life. I focused on his speculation of canalis on Mars. He had observed what appeared to be channels along the surface of Mars. He found that all of the split and seemed to stem from origin points that could be identified as seas and ran through continents that he named and mapped. When his work was published, it reached a Bostonian named Percival Lowell who took up his own observation of Mars from Flagstaff, AZ. But that is for another post. Most seasoned astronomers (which Lowell was not), did not see the markings on Mars as canalis at all.
Unfortunately Schiaparelli’s observations were debunked as being reflections and shadows creating optical illusions or maybe just the human tendency to see patterns and objects that are not there. What a bummer.
If you wanna learn a bit more about Schiaparelli, check out Britannica. It has other articles related to and involving the astronomer and his work.