These locks and weirs are all within the area enclosed by the embankments forming the carets, which accounts for the long and extensive space the latter cover, as the locks are necessarily a considerable distance apart from each other to allow for a length of canal to be traversed before the next lock is reached. They are, however, not in themselves sufficiently conspicuous to be separately discerned from the earth by our telescopic observers.
Machinery for forcing the water along the canals is also provided at most of the junctions everywhere on the planet. In this connection it must be remembered that the water is carried by the canals from one hemisphere to the other, and, after passing the equator, must therefore move in a direction contrary to that of ordinary gravitation.
Thus at one season of the year the water passes from the north polar regions down into the southern hemisphere, and at the opposite period of the year it is carried in the same way from the south polar regions right into the northern hemisphere.
Gravitation being almost non-effective as regards the flow of water on Mars, the movement would be extremely slow everywhere were it not for the machinery, which adds to the speed of the flow. The average rate of the movement of the water in the canals is about fifty-one miles a day, and it takes about fifty-two days for the water to pass from about latitude 72 down to the equator, a distance of 2650 miles.
This rate of flow, as indicated by the darkening arising from the growth of vegetation which follows the flow of the water down the canals, has been observed and noted many times at Flagstaff Observatory.
It was now perfectly clear to us why the "carets" are only seen in the particular places in which they have been observed by Professor Lowell and his colleagues. They are, in fact, only needed in connection with water-lifting apparatus, and locks and weirs, at the places where high-level canals connect with those at a lower level!
We were all very pleased at finding the solution of a problem which had been much discussed between us without arriving at any satisfactory conclusion.
John then asked Tellurio if he would be good enough to explain to us how it was that our observers on the earth saw some of the Martian canals doubled at some periods of the year and single at other times; and sometimes one of the twin canals was seen alone, and at other times the second one only was visible.
"It is a very simple matter, sir," replied Tellurio. "You will understand that we do not wish to waste any of our water, and as it is quite unnecessary to use all our canals at the same time, we only use those which are actually required. This arrangement also allows us to have a much greater depth of water in the canals than would be the case if they were all in use at once.
"Many of the canals are only required for irrigating seasonal crops; so as soon as the requisite amount of moisture has been acquired by the soil the water is turned from that canal into another one, passing through an area where a later seasonal crop is to be grown. This arrangement, moreover, applies not only to our double canals, but also to very many of the series which you have regarded as single canals."
Thus the mysteries connected with Mars were being cleared up one after the other; and having regard to the very simple and natural explanations we received, we could not help laughing as we talked the matter over and recalled the immense amount of discussion and wrangling which had occurred amongst our scientific men in connection with these matters, and especially at the difficulty they seemed to experience in believing that the canals could exist at all. Then there were those charges and theories of overstrained eyes, diplopia, and defective focussing, to say nothing of other suggestions. Well, I will not say any more upon this point.
In continuation of our discussion of the canal question, I asked Tellurio "Whether the canals and irrigation system had been the means of reclaiming any large areas of land which had previously been deserts?"
"Oh yes, sir," he answered, "that has been the case in many parts of our world; some very large areas indeed which were once deserts have now become very fertile. Quite apart from such reclamations, however, our canals and irrigation systems have also effectually checked the spread of desertism. If it had remained unchecked, probably by this time the entire surface of our planet would have become a desert."
I then explained that I asked the question because our observers had seen and noted upon their charts several large areas which seemed to have become fertile. Thus, along the eastern side of Thaumasia it had been noted that, during a period of about twenty-three years, the green area had advanced at least 400 miles nearer to the place we called the "Solar Lake." On measuring this area on the map it appeared to me that at least 200,000 square miles which had previously been desert had become fertile.
Similar extensions of vegetation had also been charted in several other places, for instance, on the east side of the large area known to us as "Syrtis Major." I had, however, been rather surprised not to have come across any comment by our scientists on the significance of this very large increase of fertile land, as, taken in connection with the great canal system, it seemed to me very significant and full of meaning.
Merna, continuing his remarks, then said that "Lately considerable extensions of their canal system had been carried out. New canals had been dug, others altered or extended, and vast areas had been considerably changed by replanting in some places and fallowing in others. The result of all this work," he said, "would produce a striking alteration in the configuration of some of the dark areas. Such changes," he remarked, "were carried out very rapidly, so rapidly indeed that it would probably be almost incredible to terrestrials; but it must be remembered that excavation, loading and removal of soil, as well as most other operations, were accomplished by special machinery. He had no doubt these changes would be noted by our observers, as Mars was so favourably situated in regard to the earth at the present time. Besides this," he continued, "many of our canals have been dealt with, and some of them will disappear, either temporarily or permanently."
"Well, Merna," said John, "if that is the case our observers will soon miss them; and I can imagine some of them gazing on your planet through their telescopes and exclaiming, 'Lo! here is the symbol of the death of Mars. Where we used to see canals there is now only blank space; the canals are disappearing, and the Martians must be rapidly decreasing in numbers and no longer able to maintain their vast canal system; or perhaps their water supply is diminishing so rapidly that it is becoming insufficient to keep the canals in working order; so ere long all life upon Mars must come to an end!'"
"If that should be so," said Merna, "they will be altogether wrong in their surmises, for the disappearance of several of our canals will not indicate death but life. Some of those canals will only be temporarily put out of use, but others, having served their purpose, will be discontinued permanently. They are like our flowers that have done blooming, which may be allowed to grow again next season, or the ground may be fallowed and fresh flowers planted elsewhere; so the vanished canals may be succeeded by fresh ones where they are needed; and when your people see these new canals they will know that they indicate the continued existence of vigorous and enterprising life upon Mars."
We then started upon our return home, and on the way I drew M'Allister's attention to the smaller size of the sun as we saw it now as compared with the size it appeared to us when on the earth. I told him that Mars was then about 131,000,000 miles from the sun, so the sun's apparent diameter was only about 22-1/4 minutes.
On the earth that day the sun's apparent diameter would be about 32 minutes. So to the Martians the sun only appeared about two-thirds the size it appeared to the people on the earth.
When, on 13th August this year, Mars was at its "perihelion," or nearest point to the sun, the latter was 129,500,000 miles distant, and would appear rather more than 22-1/2 minutes in diameter.
At the opposite point of its orbit, where it will be in "aphelion," or farthest from the sun, the sun will only appear about 19 minutes in diameter.
I then explained that, although the sun is so distant, Mars receives a very much larger percentage of the total heat and light available than we do on the earth, because of the thinness and generally cloudless condition of the atmosphere. It is estimated that our atmosphere and clouds shut out nearly 50 per cent. of the light and heat which would otherwise reach us in the course of the year. On the other hand, their "blanketing" effect considerably lessens the amount of heat radiated into space; thus, by keeping in the heat we have received, compensating to some extent for the original loss in quantity.
But, owing to its thin clear atmosphere, Mars receives nearly 99 per cent. of the total amount of heat and light proceeding to it from the sun; so that, although the sun is more distant from the planet, the warmth on Mars does not compare so unfavourably with the warmth on the earth as many have imagined it to do.
M'Allister replied that "He had expected to find it very cold indeed upon Mars in consequence of its distance from the sun, but was surprised to find it so warm," and added, "what you have now told me, Professor, explains why this is so, and I can only say that at present I find the climate a delightful one--pleasantly warm, yet bracing and invigorating. Even in the tropical regions, although it is hot, it is not the oppressive and enervating heat that I have experienced in the tropics on our own world."
He then remarked that "He knew the planets all moved through space and had read that some of the stars did too, and he would like to know whether our sun had any motion in space?"
"Yes," I replied; "as the result of a long series of observations and calculations it has been determined that the sun is moving through space and carrying with it all the planets in our system. Its rate of movement is not known with certainty, but it is estimated at about 1,000,000 miles a day. Whether it is moving in a straight line or in a vast orbit around some far distant sun is also an open question, and it may take centuries to arrive at a definite result. This motion of our sun, rapid though it is, is very slow compared with the motion of some of the stars. One that appears only a small star to us, but which is probably a sun enormously larger than ours, is moving through space at a rate which cannot be less than 200 miles a second; and unless that movement is direct across our line of sight its rate must be still more rapid. Yet it is so enormously distant that, in 500 years, it would only appear to have moved over a space of one degree on the sky! It is calculated that Arcturus moves still more rapidly.
"The movements of several other stars have been calculated; but the distance of the stars is so enormously great that the majority appear to have no movement at all, though probably not one of the heavenly bodies is at rest.
"It is estimated that the light of the nearest star we know of takes at least four years to reach the earth, yet light travels at the rate of 186,000 miles a second. We know of others whose light takes centuries to reach us, and, with regard to most of the stars, the light we see probably left them thousands of years ago.
"It is only when a star is so near to us that the earth's revolution in its orbit is sufficient to cause a change in the apparent position of the star which can be measured with our instruments that any calculation can be made to determine its distance from us. In nearly all cases where the distance has been calculated, the change in position is so minute and difficult to measure accurately, that the results obtained can only be regarded as very rough approximations to the real distances.
"The universe is infinite in extent, and the human mind is quite unable to conceive what is really implied in the distances of the planets belonging to our own solar system; yet they are as nothing when compared with the distances of the fixed stars, either from the earth or from each other. We equally fail to realise the immense numbers of the stars. The camera, it is estimated, shows at least one hundred millions in the heavens; and our great telescopes can penetrate through inconceivable distances of space and render visible millions which the smaller instruments fail to reveal. Every increase of instrumental power, however, carries us still farther, and reveals more and more stars in deeper depths of the illimitable abysses of space.
"In these matters there is no finality, for though with telescopic aid: 'World after world, sun after sun, star after star are past, Yet systems round in myriads rise more glorious than the last: The wondrous universe of God still limitless is found, For endless are its distances, and none its depths can sound!'"
OUR FIRST VIEW OF THE EARTH FROM MARS--A MARTIAN COURTSHIP.
Within a few days we had our first glimpse of the earth from Mars. It appeared only as a very thin but bright crescent of light, as the lighted portion was less than one-twelfth part of the whole diameter of the disc, and it was only visible for a very short time.
Owing to the clear and thin atmosphere of Mars there is very little scintillation of the stars, and the crescent form of the earth at such periods as the present can plainly be discerned without the aid of a glass. To the Martians this is more readily seen than by us, as their eyes, being larger than ours, have a much greater light grasp.
For the same reason all the stars shine much brighter than they do in our skies, and many of the smaller ones which can be seen from Mars with the unaided eye, would here require a low power-glass to render them visible to us. The fact that Saturn has a ring is quite apparent to the Martian eye.
Day by day after this we saw the lighted area extending upon the earth, just the same as on the earth Venus can be seen with a telescope gradually to pass from the crescent phase to the gibbous form, and ultimately become full. Our earth is a morning and evening star to Mars the same as Venus is to the earth, according to its position with regard to the sun.
Whilst we were looking at the earth, I asked Merna "Whether he had ever seen the earth transit the sun as we occasionally see Venus or Mercury do so?"
He answered that "He carefully observed the last transit, which occurred on a date equivalent to our 8th May 1905, and was very interested in watching the earth pass, as a small black spot, across the sun's disc. The moon did not commence to cross until 6 hours and 7 minutes later, by which time the earth had passed over three-quarters of the sun's diameter. The earth was 8 hours and 42 minutes in transit, and the moon, which crossed a little lower down, was 8 hours and 31 minutes in crossing."
"That must have been an interesting sight," said John, "and I should like to have the opportunity of watching a similar transit."
"I am afraid you never will," said Merna, "for the transits only occur at long intervals. The previous transits occurred in November 1879, November 1800, May 1700, and May 1621. There will not be another until May 1984, and the next after that will not occur until November 2084."
"I am sorry to hear that," remarked John, "for even if I stayed here, I should not be likely to live long enough to see the next transit. Possibly you may do so, Merna; you are so much younger than I am."
"Yes," Merna replied, "it is not unlikely that I may see another such transit, for the average length of our lives on Mars is about equal to one hundred and thirty of your years, so that leaves me an ample margin of time."
I then went on to remark that as another result of the thinness of the Martian atmosphere twilight is much shorter than on the earth, the light being less diffused when the sun is below the horizon, and refraction also considerably less than we experience.
In this connection, I mentioned to M'Allister that we can often see the sun and the moon apparently above the earth's horizon when they are, in fact, below it. This is caused by the refractive power of our dense atmosphere, which has the effect of making both the sun and the moon appear a little higher up than they really are.
"That is something new to me, Professor," exclaimed M'Allister; "and I cannot say I quite understand how refraction, as you term it, has the effect you mention."
"It may help you, then," I answered, "if I tell you that water acts very much in the same way; and there is a simple and fairly well-known experiment you might try for yourself, which would make the matter perfectly clear to you. It is as follows:-- "Take a teacup and place a shilling at the bottom of it, then move back until you quite lose sight of the coin. Ask some one to pour some clean cold water gently into the cup, and, as it fills, the refraction of the water will apparently reduce the depth of the cup, and thus bring the coin fully into view. In much the same way the refraction of the atmosphere enables us to see the sun or the moon when those bodies are actually below the horizon."
"Thank you, Professor," said M'Allister; "I will try that little experiment at the first opportunity."
I then told him that at the time when the moon is just full it may rise towards the east just as the sun sets towards the west. Both orbs cannot be wholly above the horizon at the same time on such occasions, but, owing to refraction, we are able to see them both.
The sun and moon both appear flattened or oval-shaped just as they are rising or setting, in consequence of the effects of atmospheric refraction. These effects are usually most noticeable near the horizon, because the object is seen through the densest layers of air. But we never see a star in its true place in the sky, because the rays of light which come to us from the star are bent or refracted as they pass through our atmosphere, just as a stick appears to be bent when thrust down into a deep pool of clear water.
All these effects, however, add to the work of astronomers, because they must be taken into account in connection with their calculations.
As the time passed on, I day by day became more interested in Merna's relations with Eleeta.
"All the world loves a lover," and we elderly people are always pleased to note the progress of young folks' love affairs, especially if either of them is a relative of ours. In them we seem to renew our youth, for their entrancements seem to carry us back to the halcyon days when we ourselves were young. When "Love took up the glass of time and turned it in his glowing hands" everything seemed of a roseate hue, and we dwelt in the seventh heaven of delight, at peace with all the world and envying no one--for were we not the most happy and fortunate of mortals!
And then, to look upon a Martian courtship! To see the rich flushes mount to the cheeks of the lovers--their softly glowing luminous eyes, their absorbed attention in each other, and their mutual deference and response to the most slightly indicated wish! Ah, it was indeed a scene to gladden the heart of the father of one of them!
Eleeta's beauty, the sweetness of her disposition, and most charming and lovable ways endeared her so to me that I did not wonder Merna found them so attractive and satisfying; and my most fervent aspirations ascended for their happiness, both now and in the future.
With the Martians there is no false modesty about their courtships; all is natural, proper, and dignified; every one may see and every one enters into the true spirit of the thing. Mere flirtations, such as we are so familiar with, are quite unknown, as they would be contrary to all the natural instincts of the people. Everything upon Mars is honest, true, and straightforward--open and above-board. This must necessarily be so, in consequence of the Martians' powers of intuition, for any attempt at imposition or deceit would at once be detected.
I had an illustration of this when I asked Merna, "How they dealt with their criminals?"
"We have none to deal with," he replied, "and you will understand why, when I tell you, that if any one committed a crime, however small, and it was desired to find out the offender, it would be impossible to escape detection. He might fly to the other side of our world, but the intuitions of our experts would at once make them aware of his hiding-place; besides, he could not conceal what was on his mind from any one with whom he associated.
"In the earlier times when only a small proportion of the Martians were endowed with these powers to any large extent, there were occasional crimes; but as they were always detected, crime soon ceased to exist.
"Thus you will see that, quite apart from their high standard of morality, the Martians soon found that crime was a folly."
There was another love affair apparently developing which did not afford me so much satisfaction as that to which I have just alluded.
I noticed that John and Siloni were very frequently together; and, whatever might be the case with the latter, I had very little doubt that John was smitten with his companion's charms. It was, perhaps, nothing to be wondered at, for Siloni was indeed a very nice girl, with beautiful features, dark hair, and dark eyes; whilst John was well-built, fully six feet in height, with black hair and moustache, and very good-looking; altogether a fine and attractive man, and it had often been a matter of surprise to me that he had never married.
Still, such a complication as this had never entered my mind when I came to Mars, and I was rather perplexed to know how best to deal with the situation. However, I thought it would be well to wait a little while and see how the matter shaped itself before taking any action.
CELESTIAL PHENOMENA SEEN FROM MARS--M'ALLISTER RECEIVES A PRACTICAL LESSON IN GRAVITATION.
Mars is really an ideal world for an astronomer to live in, its skies being so clear, the air so thin and pure, and the stars shining so brilliantly.
Besides these advantages, the rapid movements of the two satellites of the planet result in a constant succession of celestial phenomena which afford very frequent opportunities for most interesting observations. Changes in the phases of the two moons, eclipses, occultations, transits, &c., are constantly occurring, so there is nearly always something to attract our attention to the Martian sky.
We have already seen several of these phenomena, and I will now describe what we have observed.
Early one evening when we were out with Merna, we looked up at the sky and saw the two moons a considerable distance apart, but approaching each other from opposite directions, Phobos appearing to move very rapidly. Both were near the full phase, Deimos being more nearly full than Phobos; and we watched them drawing closer and closer together till Phobos passed right in front of Deimos so as to hide it entirely. This is termed an occultation; and both the satellites had become full when the occultation occurred; but when they were again clear of each other both were beginning to wane.
This sight may be seen anywhere near the Martian equator about every ten hours.
The movements of Phobos seemed very peculiar to us who had lived upon the earth and seen all the celestial bodies appearing to move in the same direction.
I have already alluded to the fact that Phobos is only 3700 miles above the surface of Mars, and moves so rapidly that it makes more than three complete revolutions round the planet whilst the latter is turning only once on its axis.
The effect of this very rapid revolution of the satellite, which has no counterpart, so far as we know, in our Solar system is that, instead of rising in the east and setting in the west as all the other heavenly bodies appear to do, Phobos appears to rise in the west, cross the sky, and set in the east.
The moon and planets all actually move from west to east; the apparent reverse of this being caused by the more rapid movement of the earth on its axis, giving the other bodies the appearance of moving from east to west. If, however, our moon is closely watched, and its position with regard to a fixed star carefully noted, it will be found that in the course of a short time its real movement has been eastward, and that its position with regard to the fixed star has changed, although the revolution of the earth has appeared to carry both westward.
Phobos is 36 miles in diameter. Its actual period of revolution round the planet is 7 hours and 39 minutes, but, owing to the movement of Mars on its axis in the same direction, it appears to take a few minutes over 11 hours to complete one revolution.
Near the equator, Phobos is seen above the horizon for about 4-1/4 hours, and is below it about 6-3/4 hours. According as the place from which it is viewed is farther from the equator so will the time of visibility of Phobos be decreased, until when latitude 69 is reached in either hemisphere, it will cease to become visible at all. This is owing to its nearness to the planet; and, Mars being small, the curve of its sphere is sharp, so that the horizon is more limited than on the earth, and the satellite is shut out from view anywhere above latitude 69 by the body of the planet.
Another peculiarity is that, when in the zenith, Phobos appears twice as large in area as it does when near the horizon, and notwithstanding its very small size, Phobos appears rather larger than our moon, because it is so near to the planet.
The length of the Martian "night" is about 12 hours and 20 minutes, and during this very short time Phobos may be seen to rise in the west, set in the east, and rise again once more in the west. Consequently it will be evident that it must travel very rapidly across the sky. It really moves over a space of 32-1/2 in a single hour--a great contrast to the slow and stately movement of our moon, which only passes over half a degree in an hour.
Moreover, Phobos may be seen to rise as a new moon, pass through its phases to the full, wane, and again become new, all in the course of a single Martian night; or it may be seen twice full and once new during the same time.
Even this does not exhaust the list of phenomena, for, being so close to Mars, Phobos is very frequently eclipsed by the shadow of the planet. On the other hand, the sun may be eclipsed by Phobos something like fourteen hundred times in the course of a Martian year; and, as already mentioned, the other satellite is often occulted by Phobos--sometimes when both may be only at the half full phase, and these occultations look very peculiar.
Deimos, being only 10 miles in diameter and about 12,500 miles from the surface of the planet, does not give rise to so many phenomena as the nearer satellite: still they are very numerous.
It revolves round the planet in 30-1/4 hours, but appears to take 131-1/2 hours to do so, being above the horizon about 60 hours, and below it nearly 72 hours. These are the times as seen from the equator; but, as in the case of Phobos, the farther the place is from the equator the shorter is the period that Deimos is seen above the horizon, until, when latitude 82 is reached in either hemisphere, it ceases to become visible at all.
Our moon, being so very much more distant from our earth, could be seen from both the poles.
Deimos also passes nearly twice through all its phases whilst it is above the horizon, viz. during about 60 hours, and may be seen twice full and twice new in that time.
Eclipses of Deimos by the planet and occultations of it by the other satellite are very frequent. Being so small, it can never cause an eclipse of the sun, but it transits the sun as a dark spot about one hundred and twenty times during the Martian year.
This is really a very inadequate list of the phenomena connected with the satellites, but it will be seen that the number is enormous compared with the few eclipses of the sun or moon seen on the earth during the course of one year. Certainly Mars is an astronomer's world!
Merna heard my statements respecting these movements and phenomena as I explained them to my two friends; and when I had finished, he remarked, "You seem to be fairly well posted in these matters, sir?"
"Yes," I said; "thanks to our astronomers, both professional and amateur, all these things have been very carefully calculated; and, with the exception of a few doubtful points, we probably know nearly as much about them as the Martians themselves do."
M'Allister then turned to me and said, "Professor, you told us that the two satellites of Mars revolved round the planet in a certain time, but in each case you afterwards said they appeared to take a much longer time to do so. I'm rather puzzled to understand how that can be."
"It's really a simple matter, M'Allister," I answered, "and I think I can make it clear to you. While the satellite is making one revolution round the planet the latter is turning on its axis in the same direction as the satellite is moving, following it up in fact; and you will I think understand that in these circumstances the people on that part of the planet where the moon is visible must necessarily keep it in view for a longer period than would be the case if the planet were not revolving in the same direction.
"You have been used to being on board a ship; so suppose your vessel was steaming twelve miles an hour and there was another vessel at anchor just twelve miles ahead of you, you would reach it in just one hour, would you not?"