Physical description

Red hard covered book of 318 pages. Includes early images of planets as seen through a J. Browning Telescope.

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.

Publication type


Inscriptions & markings

stamped 'Evansford Public Library'


Richard Anthony Proctor (23 March 1837 – 12 September 1888) was an English astronomer who produced one of the earliest maps of Mars in 1867 from 27 drawings by the English observer William Rutter Dawes. He used old drawings of Mars dating back to 1666 to try to determine the sidereal day of Mars. His final estimate, in 1873, was 24h 37m 22.713s, very close to the modern value of 24h 37m 22.663s.<br/><br/>Proctor was already a well-known populariser of science when he published this book, joining a ferocious debate about the possibility of life on other planets. The crater Proctor on Mars is named after him.