NASA Mars Times 1906

The idea that Mars is not just a star or a planet like others began when the 17th century Italian astronomer Giovanni Cassini discovered with his telescope the rotation period of Mars (24h 40′) similar to Earth’s, as well as its unusual surface markings. Two centuries later another Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli claimed in 1877 to have discovered a network of “canali” (channels, not canals) and seas on Mars. Inspired by Schiaparelli, American amateur astronomer Percival Lowell published a book in 1906 titled “Mars and its Canals” which won him acclaims and awards up to his death in 1916, along with some critics. Lowell claimed to have discovered over 550 canals along with “oases” which served as nodes as the planet’s irrigation system. The idea of life and civilization in Mars was so popular that Lowell’s claims went largely unchallenged in public despite no astronomers could actually observe them. His claims were disproved definitively only after the 1960s when NASA spacecrafts captured the true images of the planet.

More on Lowell and his contempories:…/when-reporters-accidentally-wrote-science…/

First image: “Explore Mars Trek” from

How did Lowell in 1906 see all the Martian canals and oases which never existed? And how did other scientists a century ago accept his claims despite they could not observe them?

It is amazing how our mind can make us see all kind of things. The Buddhists like to tell the story of the “rope” and the “snake”. Or inversely, not seeing things which are staring in your face, like all the holocaust denials, Nanking-massacre denials, climate change denials and the “alt-facts” these days…