Lowell's map of canals on Mars, 1906

Lowell's map of canals on Mars, 1906

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Credit: ROYAL ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Map of canals on Mars surrounding the Martian North Polar Cap, published in 1906 by the US astronomer Percival Lowell (1855-1916) in Mars and its Canals. The canals have been given mythological names here. Lowell was one of the proponents of the theory that the straight lines some observers saw on Mars were canals. This theory had been prompted by a paper published in 1890 by the Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli, when his use of the word "canali" (channels) was mistranslated as canals. It is now thought that the straight lines seen by some observers were an optical illusion.

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