Giovanni Schiaparelli not only identified the channels but
he named the “seas” and “continents” of
Mars, and in 1861 he discovered the asteroid 69 Hesperia.
I confess that I see thin white lines connecting the stars of the
Big Dipper when I stare at it in the night sky. It may be
surprising, if we should ever see the world through the eyes and
brain of another species, to discover how much we imagine our
world to suit ourselves. At any rate, we should forgive
Schiaparelli his canali and imagine his joy in
discovering another world with a pattern and a purpose. Maybe we
should even forgive the people who mistranslated
Schiaparelli’s Italian and those who took the unintended
distinction to justify their belief in life on Mars.
See also in The book of science:
Readings on wikipedia: