Paris: Hermann & Cie, 1930. 1st Edition. FIRST EDITION IN ORIGINAL PAPER WRAPPERS OF ANTONIADI’S MOST IMPORTANT WORK ON MARS. “An impressive” and beautifully illustrated publication, La Planète Mars is the comprehensive denouement of Antoniadi’s Martian work. [In it], he presents a series of comparative drawings of the planet, all executed in meticulous stipple style, which show the canals resolved into vague, variously shaded, but distinctly separate features… [The] heart of the book, [though] is Atoniadi’s corrected, updated, and systematized scheme of Schiaparelli’s nomenclature for the planet’s topography. [Antoniadi’s] background in classical nomenclature made him the perfect man for the task; in all the book included 560 [named features] complete with summaries of each feature’s observational history. ‘This [book], writes William Graves Hoyt “combined with later photographic work with large telescopes at prime locations tended to reduce the canal controversy, if not the question of Martian life, to the status of an historical curiosity’” (Sheehan, Mars: The Lure of the Red Planet, pp. 174-175).
Eugène Michel Antoniadi (1870-1944), a Greek/French astronomer, was born in Istanbul but spent most of his adult life in France, after being invited by Camille Flammarion. Antoniadi then served as Flammarion’s assistant at his personal observatory for nearly a decade.
“In the 1890s, [Antoniadi] was one of many who accepted Giovanni Schiaparelli’s discovery (and Percival Lowell’s further attestations) that the surface of Mars is interlaced with canali (Schiaparelli) or canals (Lowell, and not quite the same thing as canali, which means ‘channels’).
“But in the early 1900s, Antoniadi began to do a turnabout, becoming convinced that Martian canals were an illusion, a psychological artifact of human perception” (Linda Hall Museum, Scientist of the Day - Eugène Michel Antoniadi, March 1, 2017). “During the planetary opposition in 1909, Antoniadi observed Mars at the celebrated 33-inch Meudon Observatory telescope, the largest in Europe. Although he observed for only nine nights during a month-long stay in Paris, he reported seeing Mars so clearly at times that the linear appearance of the canals dissolved into an intricate mess of smaller, irregular details, and he noted that 'the geometrical "canal" network is an optical illusion; and in its place the great refractor shows myriads of marbled and chequered objective fields, which no artist could ever think of drawing'” (Mapping the Mars Canal Mania: Cartographic Projection and the Creation of a Popular Icon”, Imago Mundi, 58:2, 2006).
What Antoniadi witnessed at Meudon “was enough to take him on the offensive against the reality of Martian canals” (Linda Hall Museum). Antoniadi would eventually publish a book, La planète Mars [the work offered here] with numerous text images and 10 plates of Mars, one showing four more views from 1909, and another a world-map of Mars. [There are no] canals anywhere in these views and maps. Nevertheless, it took another 40 years, and the Mariner voyages to Mars of the late 1960s, before Martian canals finally faded from maps, and from the human imagination (ibid). Item #1363
CONDITION & DETAILS: La Planète Mars. Etude basée sur les résultats obtenus avec la grande lunette de l'Observatoire de Meudon et exposé analytique de l'ensemble des travaux exécutés sur cet astre depuis 1659. Paris: Hermann & Cie. Complete. Volume bound in original printed paper wrappers. Some small splits to spine and wear to corners; prior owner's name in small writing on front free endpaper; otherwise fine.