The English astronomer Richard A. Proctor was already a well-known populariser of science when he published Other Worlds Than Ours in 1870, joining a ferocious debate about the possibility of life on other planets in which Whewell (1853) and Brewster (1854) had also participated.
Taking his cue from the seventeenth-century French astronomer Fontenelle’s classic book The Plurality of Worlds, Proctor discusses Victorian discoveries about the solar system and describes what was then known about each of the planets. He evaluates the habitability of Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus and Saturn in the light of his belief in the possibility of extraterrestrial life. The text includes many illustrations of the planets, a spectacular map of Mars, and theoretical views of the Milky Way. Influenced by Darwin, Proctor had a teleological view of the universe and believed that eventually the cosmos would be filled with living things.
A wonderful and easy to read book that has been in print for a very long time. Don’t confused this edition with some others that have only black and white plates. The artwork is much more fantastic in color, see the attached plates below for some examples.
“Long, however, before the wonders of modern astronomy have been raveled to us, men of inquiring minds have seem to have been led, by an irresistible instinct, to examine into the resemblance which may exist between our world and other worlds surrounding it on every side.” — Richard A. Proctor – B.A., F.R.A.S
Introduction – 1
1 – What Our Earth Teaches Us – 5
2 – What We Learn From The Sun – 17
3 – The Inferior Planets – 50
4 – Mars, The Miniature Of Our Earth – 74
5 – Jupiter The Giant Of The Solar System – 98
6 – Saturn, The Ringed World – 134
7 – Uranus And Neptune, The Arctic Planets – 150
8 – The Moon and Other Satellites – 161
9 – Meteors And Comets: Their Office In the Solar System – 176
10 – Other Suns Than Ours – 204
11 – Of Minor Stars, And Their Distribution In Space – 231
12 – The Nebula: Are They External Galaxies – 262
13 – Supervision And Control – 289
A few of the colorful plates from this edition:
Note: The Author’s picture below is not within the book.