Schiaparelli, Giovanni Virginio

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Related to Giovanni Schiaparelli: Percival Lowell

Schiaparelli, Giovanni Virginio

(jōvän`nē vērjē`nyō skyäpärĕl`lē), 1835–1910, Italian astronomer. He was director (1862–1900) of the Brera Observatory, Milan. He is especially noted for having detected (1877) on the surface of the planet Mars the markings that he called canali (channels), later misinterpreted as "canals." He showed that meteor swarms travel through space in cometary orbits and suggested that Mercury and Venus rotate on their axes. He discovered the asteroid Hesperia (1861) and several double stars.

Schiaparelli, Giovanni Virginio


Born Mar. 14, 1835, in Savigliano, Piedmont; died July 4, 1910, in Milan. Italian astronomer.

Schiaparelli graduated from the University of Turin in 1854. In 1859 and 1860 he served at the Pulkovo Observatory, where he studied practical astronomy and observation methods. In 1860 he became an assistant at the Brera Observatory in Milan and from 1862 to 1900 served as the observatory’s director.

Schiaparelli developed a theory of meteors; he demonstrated the connection between meteors and comets by establishing in 1866 that the orbits of the Perseid meteor shower and Comet 1862 III coincided, as did those of the Leonids and Comet 1866 I. Schiaparelli is also known for his research on the planet Mars. In 1877 he observed a network of fine, straight lines on Mars, which he called canali (channels). This served as the basis for the hypothesis that held these “canals” to be of artificial construction. The hypothesis now has no supporters. Schiaparelli spent many years observing Mercury and Venus. He determined that Mercury rotates once around its axis in the same time it takes to make one revolution around the sun. He also worked in the field of the history of astronomy, did research on binary stars, and worked in mathematics and meteorology.


“Note e riflessioni intorno alla teoria astronomica della stelle cadenti.” Memorie di matematica e difisica della Societa Italiana delle scienze, 1867, vol. 1, PP. 153–284.
Osservazioni astronomiche e fisiche sull’ assé di rotazione e sulla topografia del Pianeta Marte. (Atti della R. Academia dei Lincei.) Rome, 1878–1910.
References in periodicals archive ?
1783 William Herschel says Mars has four seasons 1877 Giovanni Schiaparelli discovers what are mistakenly believed to be canals 1895 Astronomer Percival Lowell thinks the ``canals'' once channelled water from polar ice caps 1964 Notions of little green man are dispelled by the Mariner probe 1971 Mariner 9 gets a glimpse of what are believed to be dried-up river channels 1975 The Viking experiment finds nutrients can be metabolised on Mars 1966 A martian meteorite lands on Earth,containing what could be a fossilised life form 2004 Beagle 2 is lost and the jury is still out
When 19th-Century astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli described the planet, he said he saw canali, the Italian word for ``channels''.