Rare astronomy book, Lowell, Percival; Mars. Boston & New York, Houghton, Miflin & Company, Riverside Press, 1895.
Item Number: Book 551-c
Lowell, Percival; Mars. Boston & New York, Houghton, Miflin & Company, Riverside Press, 1895. Quarto, pp. viii, 228, 24 plates including colored frontispiece, 2 figures.
The work is complete and in the original red cloth with gilt cover and spine titles and gilt Mars vignette on cover. Scuffing and light toning to titles. Small blemish on lower spine, very narrow damp margin to very outer margin of front end sheet pages only. The text is very clean. In very good condition.
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Percival Lowell (1855-1916) was an American astronomer born to a distinguished family in Boston. His brother, A. Lawrence Lowell was to become the President of Harvard.
In the 1890s, inspired by Giovanni Schiaparelli’s discovery of what he considered to be “canals” on Mars, Lowell decided to devote his fortune and energy to the study of Mars. After careful consideration of desirable sites, he built a private observatory at Flagstaff, Arizona which is known today as the Lowell Observatory.
Lowell championed the now-abandoned theory that intelligent inhabitants of a dying Mars constructed a planet-wide system of irrigation, utilizing water from the polar ice caps, which melt annually. He thought the canals were bands of cultivated vegetation dependent on this irrigation. Among his many books on this subject are Mars (1895) and Mars and Its Canals (1906). Early in the 20th century Lowell made an elaborate mathematical study of the orbit of Uranus. He attributed certain irregularities to the action of an unseen planet beyond Neptune and calculated its probable position. In 1905 he organized a systematic search for the planet by the staff of his observatory, and in 1915 he published his “Memoir on a Trans-Neptunian Planet.” Fourteen years after his death the search culminated in the discovery of Pluto.