This book is the result of a special study of the planet made during the last opposition, at an observatory put up for the purpose of getting as good air as practicable, at Flagstaff, Arizona. A steady atmosphere is essential to the study of planetary detail: size of instrument being a very secondary matter. A large instrument in poor air will not begin to show what a smaller one in good air will. When this is recognized, as it eventually will be, it will become the fashion to put up observatories where they may see rather than be seen.
does not measure the full extent of the variation in brilliancy. As the brightness of an illuminated body varies inversely as the square of its distance from the source of light, and as the total amount of light it reflects to an observer varies inversely as the square of his distance from it, it makes every difference in the apparent brilliancy of a body how the body is situated, both with regard to the source of light and with regard to the observer. Now it so chances that at the meetings of Mars with the Earth these two factors attain their maximum effects nearly together, and similarly with their minimum. For at the times when we are closest to Mars, Mars is nearly at his closest to the Sun, and reversely when we meet him at the opposite part of his orbit. It thus comes about that at some meetings,--oppositions, they are called, because Mars then is in the opposite part of the sky from the Sun,--the planet appears four and one half times as bright as at others. Here, then, we have the explanation of the p
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