Percival Lowell

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Lowell, Percival,

1855–1916, American astronomer, b. Boston, grad. Harvard, 1876; brother of Abbott Lawrence Lowell and Amy Lowell. He visited Korea and Japan, where he acted as counselor and foreign secretary to the Korean Special Mission to the United States and wrote several books about East Asia. Becoming interested in astronomy, he established (1894) the Lowell Observatory at Flagstaff, Ariz., and devoted himself to making personal observations. It was his belief that Mars was inhabited and that the striations on the Martian surface were artificial waterways. He also contended that there was a planet beyond Neptune (seemingly confirmed in 1930 by the discovery of Pluto, but Pluto is now regarded as a dwarf planetdwarf planet,
a nonluminous body of rock or gas that orbits the sun and has a rounded shape due to its gravity. Unlike a planet, a dwarf planet is not capable of clearing its orbit of smaller objects by collision, capture, or other means.
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). From 1902 he was nonresident professor of astronomy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Among his many writings on astronomy are Mars and Its Canals (1906) and The Genesis of Planets (1916).


See biography by A. L. Lowell (1935).

Lowell, Percival


Born Mar. 13, 1855, in Boston; died Nov. 12, 1916, in Flagstaff, Ariz. American astronomer. Investigator of the planet Mars.

Lowell graduated from Harvard University in 1876. In 1894 he constructed his own observatory near Flagstaff. As a result of many years of observation, he established the nature of the seasonal variations, including visibility, of the “canals” on the Martian surface, which had been discovered by G. Schiaparelli. In 1915, Lowell calculated the orbit of a planet that was subsequently discovered in 1930 and named Pluto. His principal works were printed in publications of the Lowell Observatory.


In Russian translation:
Mars i zhizn’ na nem. Odessa, 1912.

Lowell, Percival

(1855–1916) astronomer; born in Boston, Mass. (brother of Abbott and Amy Lowell). Born to wealth, he prospered in business, then spent the years 1883–93 in Asia, which he wrote about in such books as Soul of the Far East (1888). By the early 1890s he was concentrating on astronomy, and he used his personal fortune to build and staff an observatory (now the Lowell) in Flagstaff, Ariz. From 1894 on, he directed important research there, but he became most famous for predictions: the existence of another planet, confirmed by the discovery of Pluto in 1930; and the existence of intelligent life on Mars, nullified by space probes.