Our First View Of The Earth From Mars-a Martian Courtship
From: To Mars Via The Moon
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
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
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
"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
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
"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.
Next: Celestial Phenomena Seen From Mars-m'allister Receives A Practical Lesson In Gravitation
Previous: The Secret Of The Carets-the Sun As Seen From Mars