Page:Mars - Lowell.djvu/27

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5
AS A STAR

Jupiter, an orange, at a distance of a fifth of a mile; Saturn, a small orange, at two fifths of a mile; and Uranus and Neptune, good-sized plums, three quarters of a mile and a mile and a quarter away, respectively. On this same scale the nearest star would lie eight thousand miles off, and an average third-magnitude star at about the present distance of our Moon; that is, on a scale upon which the Moon should be but seven inches off, the average star would still be as far from us as the Moon is now. Now when we think that each of these stars is probably the centre of a solar system grander than our own, we cannot seriously take ourselves to be the only minds in it all.

Probable, however, as extra-terrestrial life in general is, it is another matter to predicate it in any particular case. Nevertheless, if it exist it must exist somewhere, and the first place to scan is the place we can scan best. Now the Moon appears to be hopelessly dead. Mars, therefore, becomes of peculiar interest, and it was in hope of learning something on the subject that the observations about to be described in this book were made. Before proceeding, however, to an account of what in consequence we have learned about our neighbor, a couple of misapprehensions upon the subject,—not confined, I am sorry to say, wholly to the lay mind,—must first be corrected. One of these is