Jonathon Swift and the Moons of Mars

About a quotation from Gulliver's Travels by Jonathon Swift which predicts the two moons of Mars over a hundred years before they were discovered.


From: MORRIS TOMACH (Brooklyn, N.Y.)

Nowhere in The People's Almanac is there mention of Jonathan Swift, or his famous book, Gulliver's Travels. I believe you might be interested in the quotation I'm enclosing from that book.

From Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, first published in London in 1726:

They spend the greatest part of their lives in observing the celestial bodies, which they do by the assistance of glasses far excelling ours in goodness. For although their largest telescopes do not exceed three feet, they magnify much more than those of an hundred yards with us, and at the same time show the stars with greater clearness. This advantage hath enabled them to extend their discoveries much further than our astronomers in Europe; for they have made a catalogue of ten thousand fixed stars, whereas the largest of ours do not contain above one third part of that number. They have likewise discovered two lesser stars, or satellites, which revolve about Mars, whereof the innermost is distant from the centre of the primary planet exactly three of the diameters, and the outermost five; the former revolves in the space of ten hours [modern estimate: 7 hr. 39 min.], and the latter in twenty one and an half [modern estimate: 30 hr. 18 min.]; so that the squares of their periodical times are very near in the same proportion with the cubes of their distance from the centre of Mars, which evidently shows them to be governed by the same law of gravitation that influences the other heavenly bodies.

Phobos and Deimos, the two moons of Mars, were discovered by the American astronomer Asaph Hall in 1877, 151 years after Swift's description.

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