Giovanni Virginio Schiaparelli

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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.
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