Page:Mars - Lowell.djvu/157

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109
SEAS

effect, for he found the light from the supposed seas to show no trace of polarization. Hence these were probably not water.

In parenthesis we may here take notice of the absence of a certain phenomenon whose presence, apparently, should follow upon water surfaces such as the so-called seas would offer us. Although its absence is not perhaps definitive as to their marine character, it is certainly curious, and worth noting. If a planet were covered by a sheet of water, that water surface would, mirror-like, reflect the sun in one more or less definite spot. Looked at from a distance, this spot would, were it bright enough, be seen as a high light on the dark background of the ocean about it. It would seem to be a fixed star at a certain point on the disk, the surface features rotating under it. The necessary position is easily calculated, and this shows that parts of the so-called seas, especially at oppositions like the last one, pass under the point. There remains merely the question of sufficient brilliancy in the spot for visibility; but as in the case of Mars its brilliancy should be equal to that of a star of the first magnitude, it would seem brilliant enough to be seen. No such starlike effect in such position has ever been noticed coming from the blue-green regions. From this bit of negative evidence, to be taken for what it is worth, we return again to what there is of a positive sort.