Monday, September 10, 2012

Sexy Astronomers of History [No. 2]

Collect 'em all!

Percival Lowell
(Mar 13, 1855 – Nov 12, 1916)
Birthplace:  Boston, Massachusetts
Culture-shaping contribution:  Building the observatory that bears  his name on a high-elevation piece of land, away from city lights, in a climate where cloud cover is infrequent, a standard for terrestrial observatories ever since. His search for the apocryphal "Planet X" helped lead to the discovery of Pluto.
Fun fact:  Lowell spent years observing and sketching Mars, convinced that surface features he saw were canals, and thus proof that Martian life was not only real but an intelligent species. Though his notion was doubted even at the time, he set the public's imagination into motion and his thoughts about civilizations on the red planet influenced science fiction writing, including H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds.