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Mars Canals

Mars Canals

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Mars terminator, seeing from space, if Mars had city lights

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Percival Lowell, who founded the Lowell Observatory in 1894, was a skilled observer and published the best maps Mars of that time. He would spend long nights looking through his telescope and sketching the faint features he could see. And he saw a lot; He was convinced that what he saw was a planet-wide infrastructure of canals, made by the Martians of course, to bring water from the poles to the cities.
The theory of canals on Mars lasted until 1965, when the Mariner probe sent close up images of the surface of Mars, showing no evidence of canals whatsoever.
I painted this work around the date of the Mars opposition in October, 2020. I wanted to honor the work of Percival Lowell and used one of his maps as my inspiration. I imagined that if the Martians would indeed have cities, the city lights would probably be visible from space, just like we can see on Earth. To include both day and night in my painting, I needed to show Mars from a side, where part of it is illuminated by the Sun and part of it shows the night side. This line between day and night is called the terminator, and we see it on the Moon when is not completely full. It is impossible to see the night side of Mars from Earth because we are always facing its day side. So even in 1904 when Mr. Lowell draw those maps, he could only imagine how the cities on Mars would look at night.

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