La Planete Mars, La question des canaus in La Nature, Revue des Sciences, pp. 245-250, 1910. Paris. E. Touchet, Emile.

La Planete Mars, La question des canaus in La Nature, Revue des Sciences, pp. 245-250, 1910. Paris.

Paris: Masson et Cie, 1910. 1st Edition. First edition, FIRST APPEARANCE IN PRINT OF ANTONIADI’S 1909 MAP OF MARS.

In 1930, Eugène Michel Antoniadi (1870-1944), a Greek/French astronomer published a work also, as is the work offered here, entitled La Planète Mars based on research he had conducted in 1909. Antoniadi’s volume contained what is considered the first accurate modern map of Mars. Antoniadi’s map, however, had first appeared in print 20 years earlier in a 1910 volume of La Nature, Revue des Sciences et de leurs Applications à l’Art et à l’Industrie – this volume. Authored by Emile Touchet, secretary of the Societe Astronomique de France, the article is a thorough review of the history of research about Mars. The offering here is that 1910 volume of La Nature and, again, it houses the first appearance in print of Antoniadi’s famous 1909 map of Mars.

As did many in the scientific community in the early 1900s, Eugène Michel Antoniadi, a Greek/French astronomer, accepted Giovanni Schiaparelli’s 1877 depiction of Mars as a planet laced with canals. He had no reason not to. “During the planetary opposition in 1909, [however], 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… 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” (Mapping the Mars Canal Mania: Cartographic Projection and the Creation of a Popular Icon”, Imago Mundi, 58:2, 2006).


What Antoniadi witnessed at Meudon in 1909 “convinced [him] that Martian canals were an illusion, a psychological artifact of human perception,” but he did not publish his findings nor, significantly, his map – a map considered, as said, the first accurate modern map of Mars -- until 1930 (Linda Hall Museum, Scientist of the Day - Eugène Michel Antoniadi, March 1, 2017). Antoniadi’s research and mapping, wrote the planetary historian 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). However the idea that canals existed remained, in large part due to Lowell, as part of human imagination until the 1960s when it was finally felled by the Mariner voyages to mars (Imago Mundi).

NOTE: Because Touchet’s article is an historical review of research about Mars, it includes other the work of other astronomers as well. Item #1366

CONDITION & DETAILS: Complete volume. 4to. [6], 214pp., [4]. Tightly and solidly bound in the publisher’s maroon binding, the volume has some scuffing at the edge tips though no more than would be appropriate for its age. Gilt-lettered and -ruled at the spine. Marbled endpapers.The interior is clean throughout. Very good.

Price: $550.00

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