Portrait of Giovanni Schiaparelli
Gioavanni Schiaparelli was an Italian astronomer who lived between 1835-1910. He observed patterned straight lines on the surface of Mars, and called them "canali", Italian for channels.
Unfortunately, "canali" was mistranslated into canals, which implied that artificial structures existed on the red planet. This caused a flood of study on Mars, with many scientists expecting to find life there.
Schiaparelli proved that since a comet's tail points away from the sun there must be a repulsive force between the two bodies. He also explained that meteor showers, such as the famous Perseids, result from the dissolution of comet's tails.
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