Historical views of Mars

05 June 2018 09:00 till 14 June 2018 23:00 - Location: Hall, TU Delft Library, Prometheusplein 1, Delft

From Christiaan Huygens to Chriet Titulaer

In the beginning of astronomy  mythological elements played a large role in the depiction of sky objects. The focus was mostly on the moon and the sun. Gradually this focus shifted to other sky objects such as Mars.  

Christiaan Huygens discovered Mars in 1659 with his handmade telescope. He made the first drawing of Mars. Mars stands out for its red colour. That’s why this planet  was named after the Roman god of war Mars. The famous French astronomer Flammarion said about Mars in 1880:  “Her light is reddish and gives the impression of fire"...  “The burning star of Mars presided over combats; on the field of battle of Marathon or in the dark pass of Thermopylae, the imprecations of the victims accused it of barbarity, while the fact is that man has no enemy but himself, and the innocent planet soars in space without suspecting the influences of which it is accused”. These depictions of Mars show the heritage of astronomy as a social science.  

Since Huygens, Mars has always been an object of fascination. Chriet Titulaer (a Dutch astronomer, television presenter and popular science and technology writer) stated in 1992: "I believe that there will be a manned Mars landing before 2020, but that the first step on that planet will be set  by a Japanese".   

Exhibited will be: 

  • Books from the Trésor collection
  • a reflecting telescope by B.E. van der Bildt (1800-1825) 
  • a celestial globe (1825-1850)
  • a celestial globe (after 1945)