Talk:Martian canal

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I always understood that the Italian word "canali" was misinterpreted as canals. Canali could mean canal (as in manmade river) or just channel (witch could be naturally formed). Schiaparelli meant the lather, I thought. Perhaps something to look up...

- Het_genie

Recurring Slope Lineae and cannalli?[edit]

It seems someone has added some text about martian RSL which are a completely different phenomenom, and completely invisible from Earth. I don't think RSL are relevant to this subject, and I will be deleting the references to them in this article in a few days if no one objects. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:04, 11 June 2016 (UTC)


This article repeatedly mentions "opposition" (E.G. the "opposition of 1874"). Please explain what this is supposed to mean in this context on first use, because it is quite unclear at present.

--IRelayer 17:01, 17 April 2006 (UTC)

Very briefly, it means that the planet is on the opposite point from the Sun in the sky, which means it's both at its closest distance to Earth and visible most clearly to earthbound observers. But surely the link to opposition (astronomy) should be enough to fill in those not familiar with the term? Orcoteuthis (talk) 11:16, 19 January 2008 (UTC)

indeed, i didn't know what opposition was, so i clicked on the link. i think we can call this matter closed - Shadowsill (talk) 15:59, 6 June 2008 (UTC)


It would helpful if someone would describe the nature of this "optical illusion" that causes people to see non-existant canals. Drutt 12:38, 11 March 2007 (UTC)

good call, added a bit.. sbandrews 13:51, 11 March 2007 (UTC)
It's still missing any substantial information on this subject, which is crucial to the entire piece. If the illusion is not detailed, why are we accepting the explanation as true? Also, as usual for Wikipedia, this article is lacking sufficient inline citations. (talk) 18:16, 25 December 2009 (UTC)

germination -> gemination[edit]

I've done little editing, so I'm reluctant to make this change.

The article has

'Some observers saw a phenomenon they called "germination", or doubling — two parallel canals.'

I was just reading Scientific American's reprint of their review of a Percival Lowell book: It includes

'It appears that in some cases certainly, and possibly in all, the dual aspect is not a temporary condition, but a permanent state marked with varying intensity, the fact of "gemination," so called, being confined to a filling out of what is always there in skeleton. '

"Germinate" is from Latin "germen", meaning 'seed' ( "Geminate", "1. To double. 2. To arrange in pairs" is from Latin "geminus", meaning 'twin' ( E.g., Gemini, the constellation of the Twins. "Geminate" is obviously far more appropriate for a phenomenon of doubling in particular.

I could change "germinate" to "geminate", but I don't know how to cite the Scientific American article in a Wikipedia article.

-- Tim McDaniel, (don't have my Wikipedia login info with me)

Valles Marineris[edit]

Mars Valles Marineris.jpeg

Modern science recognizes one very prominent linear feature on Mars, Valles Marineris. If any of the canal observations were rooted in reality, then maps of the canals should match up with at least this one feature. Since maps were drawn at a known date and time, the real and imagined maps should actually be possible to compare directly, with precise latitudes and longitudes, if someone has the skill and patience to work out the astronomy. Is anyone up to the challenge? Thanks! 03:16, 7 October 2007 (UTC)

Many of the largest geographic features on Mars are entirely unremarkable in telescopic views with the eye. Remember that images, such as the one you posted, are produced with substantial contrast enhancement of images taken through appropriate filters. While your idea definitely has merit, I don't suspect any observer (in the past or present) would remark on Valles Marineris, Olympus Mons, or any of the other giant canyon or volcanoes of Mars. For example, see for albedo markings recorded by eye and by digital camera. "Olympus Mons" (marked by its old name "Nix Olympica") and Valles Marineris are practically invisible since the whole Tharsis region is covered in deep, uniformly bright dust. (talk) 20:40, 27 February 2009 (UTC)


I believe that he and others, escpecially the others, using their eyes and equipment at the limit of their power, simply experienced a case of wishful thinking delusion. However, it may be that Schiaparelli and some others actually saw a faint reflection of their own capillaries in their own eyes which are organized in a way that resembles the canal drawings. This is something that actually has happened to me when I use certain makes of binoculars. Unfortunately, I do not know of a name of the phenomenon. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:28, 18 March 2008 (UTC)

Sky and Telescope carried such an article: —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:03, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

They are called Purkinje images , but even through a huge telescope (I've looked at it with an 18-inch diameter scope at a good opposition), Mars is not bright enough to cause this. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:30, 20 January 2016 (UTC)

Cause of Illusion[edit]

I discovered on the internet that the reason for the illusion of the canals was that the telescope Giovanni was using had a flaw in it causing the illusions of canals. Wizard 109109 (talk) 14:17, 11 April 2008 (UTC)

Can you give the link to the page you found that information on, please? I could use that for an essay I'm writing. If you don't know the url, can you maybe just tell me the search engine and the search terms you used? Thanks! Sudosane (talk) 22:02, 10 February 2009 (UTC)


Many researchers still support the idea that there are canals on Mars. Although this view is not accepted by mainstream science, their views should be shown and documented along with the historical debate. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:35, 10 May 2008 (UTC)

Please provide more information. Are they actually researchers or amateur astronomers? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:59, 2 June 2008 (UTC)

Lowell Photos?[edit]

In the 1911 Britannica article on Mars Percival Lowell is quoted as saying his photographs of Mars show the canals quite clearly. Did these photos ever exist? Any chance of locating them to see what he saw? Or did he just claim photos had been taken? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:57, 27 March 2009 (UTC)

In Mars as the Abode of Life (1908) Lowell says that the canals are visible on photos taken by a Mr C. O. Lampland at Lowell Observatory in 1905. Unfortunately no reference is made to any published account of them, but maybe it'll help someone track them down. Orcoteuthis (talk) 09:14, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

I think S. M. Stirling's In the Courts of the Crimson Kings should be added to the example in popular culture section[edit]

how do I go about doing that so it doesn’t get removed? — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 02:16, 29 January 2014 (UTC)

Thank you for your comments - adding a citation from a reliable source would be helpful of course - please see WP:CITE and WP:RS for more details - thanks again for your comment - and - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 03:36, 29 January 2014 (UTC)
A citation to prove what? both S. M. Stirling and In the Courts of the Crimson Kings have their own Wikipedia pages, there's no question that the novel it exists. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 04:57, 29 January 2014 (UTC)
Yes, I *entirely* agree and have removed the "citation needed" template in the article - thanks again for your comments - and - Enjoy! :) Drbogdan (talk) 14:49, 29 January 2014 (UTC)

Schiaparelli against the intelligent life explanation[edit]

Schiaparelli's book La Vita Sul Pianeta Marte (Life on the Planet Mars), published in 1893 argues for a natural geological origin of the channels and compares them to the English Channel. He says "The network formed by the channels was probably shaped by the geologic state of the planet and it is slowly developing over the centuries. There is no need to suppose the work of intelligent beings; and despite the quasi-geometric appearance of the system, we are for now inclined to believe they are products of the evolution of the planet, just as on Earth, the English Channel and the Mozambique Channel." This is my translation from which lacks pagination but you can search "Non occorre suppor qui l'opera di esseri intelligenti." Colin McLarty (talk) 02:07, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

Colin McLarty, OK, but you haven't said what you want? Prhartcom (talk) 03:14, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
This article says an intelligent origin for the canals "was first hinted at" by Lowell and others but does not specify that Schiaparelli published his own doubts of that. I think Schiaparelli's own view should be added, though I guess that would be even more important in the article Giovanni Schiaparelli which does say Schiaparelli's term "canali" was mistranslated as "canals" but gives no good documentation. People continue to debate the question of Schiaparelli's own intent without finding sources on it and I think Wikipedia could easily clear it up Colin McLarty (talk) 14:30, 1 February 2015 (UTC)
I agree with you. As long as you avoid original research while reporting (and not "interpreting") what Schiaparelli says, you could write a neutral passage describing Schiaparelli's analysis and conclusion, write the verifiable {{cite book}} reference to your source, then place what you have written into both articles. (You would want to use different wording appropriate to each article.) Cheers. Prhartcom (talk) 16:36, 1 February 2015 (UTC)

A few more points needed.[edit]

1. Ever since Mars has been observed by telescopes, observers have noted the intermittent massive dust storms that often cover half the planet. In the scientic environment of the 18th and 19th century, dust storms would have "intuitively" - if ultimately incorrectly - greatly supported the concept of an active, and thus significant, atmosphere. After all, if the dust goes to (pick a figure) 100km high, then it follows that the atmosphere must be at least that high, too.

2. A white pole cap, against a pinkish planetary image, would through now well-known optical illusion mechanisms have created the impression of a green border in between. This border looks very "real", and even if you understand colour theory and what it is doing in your eye/brain right there, you cannot convince yourself that it isn't really there. The "conclusion" is absolutely inescapable: the polar caps are melting, creating liquid water, which is flowing into the desert at the desert/pole_cap boundary and causing, or at least encouraging, plants to grow there.

AT THE TIME, both of these would have lent very credible support to a notion of an inhabitable - or even inhabited - planet.

3. There is one more aspect to the "controversy". It is almost certainly absurd, but in an article such as this it is surely worth mentioning. The alleged canals started disappearing at about the same time as extensive gas lighting started to appear in the major cities on Earth. The "conspiracy theory" has it that this was no coincidence. That the alleged Martians would have seen this (bright points of light on the dark - non-sunlit - portions of Earth) through their telescopes, correctly deduced that it was caused by so-called intelligent life of Earth, became afraid that their existence might be detected, and went to great lengths to hide - dismantling their canals and "cities", with the theory further suggesting that they moved them underground. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 09:42, 20 January 2016 (UTC)

Shouldn't the article be plural? ("Martian canals" instead of "Martian canal")[edit]

The article is about the concept of the canals on Mars, not about a specific canal. Shouldn't its title be plural? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Keavon (talkcontribs) 02:23, 11 February 2018 (UTC)