Tricks, Treats and Telescopes

By Lauren Amundson

What was Percival Lowell doing on Halloween night in 1894? Observing Mars, of course! Lowell’s logbook entry from that night shows his drawings of Mars as seen through an 18-inch Brashear refracting telescope on Mars Hill. The Lowell Observatory Archives has preserved and digitized its collection of observation logbooks that contain original drawings and notes made by the Observatory’s astronomers from 1894 to 1926. Find them here.

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Science Fiction in the Archives

By Lauren Amundson

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October is American Archives Month, and we’ve chosen the theme “Science Fiction in the Archives.” Percival Lowell’s theories about intelligent life and canals on Mars were not widely respected in the scientific community, but the public loved them, and his ideas inspired authors such as H.G. Wells and Edgar Rice Burroughs to write fantastic stories that we now know as science fiction.

What did people in the early 20th century think Martians looked like? This article from 1904 discusses the physical appearance of possible Mars inhabitants, complete with illustrations! It’s from one of three scrapbooks of newspaper clippings in the Lowell Observatory Archives, collected by Percival Lowell from 1894 to 1911.

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For more about Lowell’s impact on the science fiction genre, check out these links:

http://wttepodcast.com/2017/08/20/episode-5-canals-on-mars/

http://www.sf-encyclopedia.com/entry/lowell_percival

https://www.nasa.gov/audience/forstudents/postsecondary/features/F_Canali_and_First_Martians.html