Mirages as both science and art

Particolari della superficie di Marte, 1890 Giovanni Schiaparelli

If you’re never been over to BibliOdyssey I highly recommend a visit. The sub-title for the blog is “Books~~Illustrations~~Science~~History~~Visual Materia Obscura~~Eclectic Bookart” which, well, sums it all up rather nicely. Lots of neat old illustrations, often (but not always) on scientific themes. The themes are interesting, the background info excellent, and the images are frequently just too cool.

The image above is from some of the earliest high quality mapping of Mars in the late 1800’s by Giovanni Schiaparelli, and is part of a really neat set of early modern maps of the red planet. Peacay (BibliOdyssey’s curator) has once again pulled together some great images that are really wonderful to look at in and of themselves, as well as being really cool historic and scientific documents.

Schiaparelli’s (in)famous ‘canali’ turned out to be a kind of optical illusion caused by interactions between light, dust clouds that form in the martian atmosphere, the orbital location and background interference from the planet’s surface itself. If a sketch is made of something that wasn’t really there but you believed it to be there at the time, can you call the result abstract art I wonder? I guess so.

I concur.

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