Saturday 4 April 2020

Astronomy in Yorkshire # 6 4th April 1871 Mars over Halifax

Astronomy in Yorkshire # 6,  April 4th  1871 Mars over Halifax

On April 4th 1871 Yorkshire astronomer Joseph Gledhill who was assistant astronomer to Edward Crossley and who owned Crossley carpets in Halifax was using Crossley's 9,3 inch Thomas Cooke telescope from his observatory to observe Mars.

Here is his report

April 4th 11 hours. The northern and southern snows were well seen; it was on its eastern side, and near the middle portion of the curve.

A dark band surrounded the south pole; near its western extremity it had a dark spot in it. Close to this broad band was the base of a large triangular dark spot. The base was parallel to the southern band; the apex of the triangle extended to the north beyond the centre of the disc. To the west of the apex, but near it, was seen a small narrow dark patch, lying east and west. Another dark spot lay some distance to the east.

Other minor featrures were seen, but none deserving of remark, except a very bright spot on the south west edge of the disc, not far from the southern snow cap. It lay within the dark southern band, and at its western end. It closely resembled the snow about the south pole in shape and size.

Owing to the extreme unsteadiness of the air and the bad weather, no measurements could be obtained: and therefore, no engravings are herewith sent. The drawings have , however been lithographed as rpough pictorial memoranda for future reference.

Mars drawing by Gledhill April 4th 1871

It is interesting to note that astronomers were still referring to the ice caps of Mars in the 1870s as snow caps. There was still no indications of the canals on mars, that story would not begin until 1877 when the Italian astronomer Schiaparelli drew features that people thought were canal like.

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