Astronomer, Architect (1861 – 1944)
Eugene Antoniadis was the greatest Greek astronomer of the modern era and one of the greatest observational astronomers of all time. A self-taught, multi-talented scientist, Antoniadis gained widespread recognition and respect for his work on planet Mars, placing his name among those of the greatest observational astronomers, namely Giovanni Virgionio Schiaparelli and Nicolas Camille Flammarion.
Antoniadis was from Constantinople. He did not attend university and did not have a degree in astronomy. He worked for most of his life in France, being invited there for the first time in 1893 by Flammarion to become his assistant after witnessing young Antoniadis’ exceptional skills on astronomy. He served as member of the board of administration of the French Astronomical Society as well as chairman of the Department of Mars of the British Astronomical Association.
Like every great mind, Antoniadis began by challenging the beliefs that were held by the astronomical establishment. As an observational astronomer, he proved that the infamous and so-called Martian canals, which were thought to be water channels flowing on the surface of Mars, built by an ancient Martian civilization, were in fact optical illusions created by the telescope. This discovery, along with all the work he compiled on Mars paved his way to become one of the most significant scientific authorities on astronomy, especially on Mars.
As director of the Meudun Observatory, Antoniadis compiled extensive research on the surface of planet Mars, publishing numerous papers on the solar sun spots, planets Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and his rings, the moon, Ganymedes and on shooting stars and comets. Antoniadis was the first to acknowledge the existence of weather changes such as windstorm on the surface of the red planet, years before being confirmed by NASA. One of his most significant contributions was compiling the very first accurate maps of the surface of Mars, attributing Greek names to hills, craters and mountains that have been preserved and are used to this day. Furthermore, he created the Antoniadi Scale, a system of categorizing weather conditions when viewing the stars at night.
Antoniadis was also an architect, a professional chess player, a writer, amateur archaeologist and artist. He wrote a book of three tomes on the art and architecture Hagia Sophia called Expression of Hagia Sophia, considered a monumental work in its field. He became a champion in chess by studying the moves of other professionals, ultimately winning first place in the chess tournament of Paris 1907 against Frank Marshall.
Eugene Antoniadis was awarded multiple times for his contributions in the scientific community. While never having been officially trained as an astronomer, he triumphantly became the world’s greatest amateur observational astronomer, his work accepted worldwide among astronomers. It is thanks to his extraordinary genius that modern astronomy knows so much about Mars and it is thanks to him that Mars speaks speaks Greek to this day.
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