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questions as t

e, when Mars would be in opposition,—or in other words, when, during its revolution upon its orbit, it comes nearest to the Earth. These occurrences of about every two years are holidays of

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pleasure and enjoyment to me. There are, however, rarer oppositions of Mars, which occur only twice in a century, when the distance between us is reduced to the smallest limit; and it has been my good fortune to get a finer view of this heavenly body at this shorter distance than will few human beings at present alive. It can well be imagined what a supremely interesting event this was to me. Days before its culmination did I watch its progress approaching nearer and nearer to the Earth. Each succeeding night exhibited to me its slowly magnifying proportions, and the greater distinctness of

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objects on its surface. Here was a world of beings, no doubt, with aims and enterprises like ours, rolling headlong through the heavens with a known velocity of fifty

hese, then

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-four thousand miles an hour. This planet was now[Pg 78] approaching, hourly, its greatest possible proximity to the Earth. That I should lose no time in devouring, as I ma

, that my

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y say, this unusual spectacle, I had provided my telescope with a kind of clockwork contrivance, by which it exactly kept pace with Mars on its westward course. During these few


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