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Mars Globe

Mars Globe

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The cartouche reads: “GLOBE DE MARS / dressé / PAR L NIESTEN / d’après les observations faites / A BRUXELLES & A Milan / NOMENCLATURE SCHIAPARELLI / NOMENCLATURE GREEN / J. Lebèque & Co Bruxelles.”
Since the several planets orbit the Sun at different speeds, Mars is better seen at some times than at others. The opposition of 1877, when the Earth was between Mars and the Sun, attracted widespread attention. This small globe is one result of that attention. It was published by J. Lebèque & Co., in Brussels, Belgium, around 1892. The map was drawn by Louis Niesten, a Belgian astronomer. It incorporates the ideas of Giovanni Schiaparelli, an Italian astronomer who saw dark lines on the surface of the Red Planet and referred to them as “canali” (channels). It also incorporates the ideas of Nathaniel Everett Green, an English artist and astronomer who was famous for his drawings of the planets, and who believed the lines to be an optical illusion.
This globe may have been acquired for the Smithsonian by Samuel Pierpont Langley, the astrophysicist who served as the third Secretary of the Institution, and who established the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. In 1900, perhaps in reaction to Nicola Tesla, a quixotic inventor who announced plans to communicate with Martians, the Smithsonian published a lengthy account of Mars and the Martian controversy.
Ref: “Aréographie. Description physique de la planète Mars,” Ciel et Terre 13 (1892): 195-211.
Articles on Mars in (1900): 157-172.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
ca 1892
associated person
Niesten, Louis
Schiaparelli, Giovanni
Green, Nathaniel Everett
J. Lebeque & Co.
place made
Belgium: Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest, Brussels
globe: 4 in; 10.16 cm
overall: 22.7 cm x 9.6 cm; 8 15/16 in x 3 25/32 in
overall: 8 3/4 in x 3 7/8 in; 22.225 cm x 9.8425 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Medicine and Science: Physical Sciences
Measuring & Mapping
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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