Tech UPTechnologyWhen was the first photograph of the Moon taken?

When was the first photograph of the Moon taken?

1840 . This is the date when humans were able to see what the surface of the Moon looked like in detail. It was thanks to the American scientist John William Draper – who was working at New York University at the time – who captured our satellite with a daguerreotype and a 13-inch reflecting telescope. The exposure time was 20 minutes. Until that time, photography was a completely new art form and astronomers had not yet discovered how useful it could be.

On March 16, 1840, he wrote in his laboratory notebook: “This afternoon I exposed a prepared plate to the rays of the moon which had been transmitted by a double convex lens.” On this plate, a halo-like vignette surrounds the image of the moon, creating a crescent shape that evokes the phases of the moon. The curious thing is that, despite this great milestone, he obtained a rather meager recognition from his contemporaries.

 

The first portrait of the Moon

Fascinated with the chemistry of light-sensitive materials, Draper learned of the process created by Louis Daguerre in September 1839. He went to work trying to improve on Daguerre’s photographic methods, devising ways to increase the sensitivity of silver-soaked plate. in iodine and reduce exposure times. The result, the first portrait of the Moon.

Using the daguerreotype (the first publicly available photographic technique) and adding the beginning of an entire brand of vernacular photography, this snapshot forms an important cultural and scientific documentation. His advancement in technique, with what was basically a handmade telescope attached to a wooden box with a plate coated in volatile chemicals , allowed the viewing of craters, mountains, and valleys on the moon’s surface never seen before.

A true advance in science and photography of the time .

Later, he would go on to produce the world’s first portrait of a woman and the first photograph of the solar spectrum.

As a curiosity, a crater on the surface of the Moon is named after this scientist who gave us our first detailed look at Earth’s natural satellite.

Referencia: Dr. John William Draper, D. Trombino; Journal of the British Astronomical Association, Vol. 90

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