Leo Brenner, his Mars channels and the Mars mosses
Occasional travelling might be considered as a means to broaden our personal horizon,
e.g. in order to learn that seafaring needn't be pure romance nor pittoresque cliché
consisting of white sailors' suits.
Ocean liner in a shipyard at Mali Losinj, Croatia
As we are tardigrade enthusiasts and microscopists we tend to
stick to our microscope eyepieces, of course. Moreover, water is essential in order to
study our favorite critters. Nevertheless we enjoy being distracted from time to
time - and hopefully there will always a back to our beloved microscope - as you will see in
the following example.
Thanks to a small booklet published by the Astronomical Society of Mali Losinj
(see literature) we became aware of the Mali Losinj astronomy past with its
prominent astronomer Leo Brenner. Without those friendly hints one would
never guess today that Leo Brenner had mounted a 7 inch front lens diameter refractor
on the (still existing) typical mediterranean villa. We have outlined the silhouette
of the no more existing telescope on the following photograph by means of a few red lines.
Sketch of Leo Brenner's observatory
on a mediterranean villa at Mali Losinj (in use and physical existence between 1894 and 1908).
From this observatory Leo Brenner studied the planet Mars (among other astronomical objects).
Conditions were good as light pollution was non-existent at this time. On the basis of his studies Leo Brenner
published a Mars map with no less than 164 (!) linear Mars channels.
But, as you will probably know, all those channels turned out as optical illusions later on.
Nevertheless, until to the 1960s some scientists continued to assume that at least
some "primitive" forms of life might be existent on Mars. In particular lichens and mosses were suggested,
because of the channels and the assumed water therein. This is one of the moments when tardiologists
tend to awake and start dreaming about potential tardigrade inhabitants on Mars.
Sad enough, up to now no one was able to find any moss on Mars - but water appears to be existing.
You know: it is our hope that dies last ;-).
It is a pity that Leo Brenner - being a somewhat flamboyant personality -
was not so much interested in the creatures living very close to him. Today we know that he was virtually
surrounded by potential Mars inhabitants: the tardigrades.
We are going to show just one here, found very close to Leo Brenner's former
Marine tardigrade from the Losinj island (Croatia).
Image width ca. 50 µm.
Literature and links
Dorian Božicevic: Lošinj & Astronomy for more than a Century.
Mali Lošinj 2009. ISBN 978-953-55836-2-2.
Wikipedia entry (in German) about Leo Brenner .
by Leo Brenner depicting his "Mars channels", named as a "object of month" (somewhere in 2012) by the library of the Vienna University.
© Text, images and video clips by
Martin Mach (email@example.com).
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