Page:Mars - Lowell.djvu/158

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.

Not only do different parts of the so-called seas contrast in tint with one another, but the same part of the same sea varies in tint at different times. Schiaparelli noticed that, at successive oppositions, the same sea showed different degrees of darkness, and he suggested that the change in tone was dependent in some way upon the Martian seasons.

Observations at Flagstaff have demonstrated this to be the case, for it has been possible to see the tints occur consecutively. In consequence, we know not only that changes take place on the surface of Mars other than in the polar cap, and very conspicuous ones too, but that these are due to the changing seasons of the planet’s year. We will now see what they look like.

To the transubstantiation of changes of the sort it is a prime essential that the drawings from whose comparison the contrast appears should all have been made by the same person, at the same telescope, under as nearly as possible the same atmospheric conditions, since otherwise the personal equation of the observer, the impersonal inequalities of instruments, and the special atmosphere of the station play so large a part in the result as to mask that other factor in the case, any change in the planet itself. How easily this masking is accomplished appears from drawings made by different ob-