The man you are thinking of is the American astronomer, William W. Campbell. His work in observing Mars via spectroscopy was published in the “Chronicle” this year. I am not sure if you recall, but spectroscopy is the study of visible light that is dispersed through a prism and separated by wavelength. The goal of Campbell’s research is to better understand the atmosphere on Mars and the conditions of life on that planet.
Campbell’s observations are entirely by visual methods, and next year, 1895, he hopes to photographically observe the spectrum so that his detractors will be appeased. His work is vital since past spectroscope tests on Mars were all conducted with small telescopes at stations near sea level and in very moist localities.
On Mount Hamilton, Campbell used a powerful telescope and spectroscope at a favorable and dry climate. Because the observatory is at a higher altitude, he eliminated the lower 4200 feet of atmosphere and aqueous vapor. When he conducted his tests this year, the southern location of the observatory and the northern position of Mars allowed him examination of the planet at near zenith.
His work proves that the Martian atmosphere does not contain aqueous vapor. Without water, life as we know it, cannot exist. I hope this information satisfies your curiosity regarding alien life on the red planet.
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