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294 Publications of the 

Mr. Lowell's Theory of Mars. 

Although the planet has practically withdrawn from observa- 
tion for a time, the popular interest in it has by no means dis- 
appeared, but has been maintained, and perhaps even increased, 
by the bold speculations of Mr. Lowell, presented last season in 
his captivating lectures, and since then in his charming papers 
published in the Atlantic Monthly. 

The observations of 1894 have made it practically certain that 
the so-called "canals" are real, whatever may be their explana- 
tion; and that great changes in their appearance, and in that of 
other more conspicuous features of the planet's surface, followed 
progressively as the white cap at the southern pole of Mars waned 
and vanished. The spectroscopic observations of Campbell 
also proved that the planet's atmosphere must be very rare as 
compared with ours, and not heavily charged with water vapor. 
So much is fairly ascertained. 

Mr. Lowell goes much farther. For him the polar-cap is 
surely snow or ice, and its disappearance is due to unquestionable 
melting. Since the telescope gives no evidence of mountain 
peaks and ranges, he concludes, moreover, that the planet's 
surface is practically one dead level, over which the waters from 
the melting ice-cap find their way to the equatorial regions, 
carrying fertility with them; the dark regions of the southern 
hemisphere, in his view, are not "seas," as hitherto supposed 
and as their names imply, but lands covered with forests or other 
forms of vegetation, while the ruddy northern regions are barren 
deserts; perhaps, if the writer maybe allowed to add a suggestion 
of his own, old ocean bottoms, depressed below the general level, 
like the Caspian, or the basin of Sahara. In Mr. Lowell's 
judgment, the "canals" mark real watercourses, and these he 
believes to be artificial, because of their perfect straightness and 
evenness, and the design apparent in the way. their numerous 
intersections are arranged. When the life-giving water reaches 
these channels, vegetation springs up on either side, and especially 
at their junctions, where the round, dark spots formerly called 
lakes are by him transformed into "oases." It is the vegetation 
that we see — not the watercourses themselves. As to the curious 
doubling or "germination" of many of the canals, he confesses 
himself still at fault. 

As to the "artificiality" of the canals, he argues that the 



Astronomical Society of th.e Pacific. 295 

people who inhabit Mars ought to be gigantic, because there the 
lessened force of gravity (only about a third as great as on the 
Earth) enlarges for all animals the limit of advantageous size, 
and, moreover, makes a giant's labor three times as effective as it 
would be on the Earth; so that, as a canal-maker, one Martian 
might be equivalent to a hundred Italians. Then, too, since his 
world is probably much older than our own, he may already have 
all the knowledge and appliances that human engineers will ac- 
quire in the distant future. 

Against all which, to mention nothing else, stands the 
fundamental doubt whether so small a globe as Mars, with so 
rare an atmosphere, and receiving from the Sun only half as 
much heat to each square mile as does the Earth, can possibly 
maintain anywhere a temperature even as high as that which 
prevails on the summits of our loftiest mountains; whether, in 
fact, the polar-caps are made of frozen water or of some very 
different substance. — C. A. Young, in The Cosmopolitan, Octo- 
ber, 1895. 

The Flower Observatory, University of Pennsylvania. 

The University of Pennsylvania has begun the erection of an 
Astronomical Observatory, the purpose being to furnish facilities 
for instruction in astronomy and for original research. The site 
is five miles west of the present University buildings, being two 
miles beyond the city limits. 

The principal instruments are an 18-inch equatorial, with 
spectroscope, a meridian circle, and a zenith telescope, each of 4 
inches aperture. The optical parts are by Brashear, the in- 
strumental by Warner & Swasey. 

As the Observatory Library is for the most part a thing of the 
future, any of your publications relating to astronomy or allied 
subjects which you may be prepared to send us, will be very ac- 
ceptable. At present we have nothing to offer in exchange, but 
hope we may have at a future time. 

Contributions may be sent to the Flower Observatory, Uni- 
versity of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. C. L. Doolittle, Pro- 
fessor of Astronomy.