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Life on MarsWhat to Know Before We Go$
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David A. Weintraub

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691209258

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691209258.001.0001

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Mars and Earth as Twins

Mars and Earth as Twins

Chapter:
(p.35) 3 Mars and Earth as Twins
Source:
Life on Mars
Author(s):

David A. Weintraub

Publisher:
Princeton University Press
DOI:10.23943/princeton/9780691209258.003.0003

This chapter details how astronomers fell in love with Mars during the very earliest years of the age of telescopes because it could appear quite large when viewed through the lens, as it is closer to Earth than all other planets. It discusses the astronomers that gained knowledge about the physical properties of Mars by the end of the eighteenth century that were convinced that Earth and Mars could be thought of as twins. It also recounts the first claimed telescopic detection of a black spot on Mars' surface in 1636 and again in 1638 by amateur astronomer Francesco Fontana. The chapter explains how Fontana's dark spot drew the attention of other astronomers to Mars as an object of interest with the potential to show observers something other than a bland, featureless disk. It refers to astronomers armed with telescopes who scould peer through the depths of space and unravel the mysteries of the red planet.

Keywords:   astronomers, Mars, telescopes, black spot, Francesco Fontana, red planet

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