Friday, 21 November 2008

1874 - Lunar Photography

Source: WIRED Magazine

The article in WIRED and also the video below intrigued me as much for the cleverness and ingenuity of astronomers and photographers around 1870 as the example of open mindedness and appreciation by other scientist and photographers.

Quoted from WIRED:

If you wanted close-up photos of the moon in the late 1800s, you were pretty much out of luck. Unless, of course, you built incredibly detailed plaster models of lunar craters and then snapped carefully lit pictures of them.

And that's exactly what an engineer and astronomer did in 1874 to tremendous acclaim.

James Nasmyth, the inventor of the steam hammer, and James Carpenter, then at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich, England, released a hugely successful book, The Moon: Considered as a Planet, a World, and a Satellite, illustrated by their incredible moon mock-ups. The august journal Nature gave the book a rapturous review.

"The illustrations to this book are so admirable, so far beyond those one generally gets of any celestial phenomenon, that one is tempted to refer to them first of all," the reviewer wrote. "No more truthful or striking representations of natural objects than those here presented have ever been laid before his readers by any student of Science; and I may add that, rarely if ever, have equal pains been taken to insure such truthfulness."

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