Herschel's drawings of Mars, 1784

Herschel's drawings of Mars, 1784

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Credit: ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Herschel's drawings of Mars. Series of 24 drawings showing the appearance of Mars over many months, as observed by the astronomer William Herschel (1738-1822). The drawings, the first ever showing Martian surface features, are from Herschel's paper published in London in 1784 in volume 74 of Philosophical Transactions, the journal of the Royal Society. Herschel had achieved fame in 1781 when he discovered Uranus. This paper was read to the Royal Society on 11 March 1784. The poles (marked a and b), Martian craters and canyons (figure 15), and the northern ice cap (top row), are shown. In addition, Herschel noted changing dark and bright areas on Mars, and correctly concluded that Mars had an atmosphere.

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