Martian Irrigation Canals
As bizarre as it may seem now, in the late 19th and early 20th centuries it was commonly believed that there were artificial canals on Mars. The rumor started in 1877 when Italian astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli observed long, linear features on Martian surface through his telescope. He named the features "canali," which translates to "channels" or "canals" in Italian. Schiaparelli did not intend for the term to be interpreted as "artificial" canals; he actually meant simply "narrow waterways." But the coined phrase took on a life of its own, and some people even believed that Martian intelligent life had constructed a canal system to bring water from the polar regions to its cities.