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Photographs of the Milky Way and Comets Made with the Six-inch Willard Lens and Crocker Telescope during the Years 1892 to 1895. Publications of the Lick Observatory, Volume XI
First edition of Edward Barnard's famous photographs of the Milky Way, the first such photographs ever taken. As The Dictionary of Scientific Biography makes clear, Barnard’s photographs of the Milky Way and of comets were highly significant to both the history of astronomy and the history of photography: “Of great importance was the beginning Barnard made in photographing the Milky Way. It can fairly be said that, although photography had been used in astronomy to a limited and somewhat experimental extent, it was not until Barnard's wholesale use of it that the technique became a vital and spectacular part of regular astronomical observing. His initial labors in this area were not easy, because funds for equipment were scarce, and he was the junior member under a somewhat crusty and autocratic director, E. S. Holden. Barnard was obliged to use a small telescopic camera, contrived from a 2 1/2-inch portrait lens with a focal length of thirty-one inches, initially strapped to the side of a 6 1/2-inch telescope for want of a suitable mounting and guiding arrangement. With so small a telescope, exposures were necessarily very long; moreover, photographic materials were still rather primitive and insensitive. Nevertheless, Barnard's Milky Way photographs revealed a wealth of both bright and dark nebulae, and star-clouds hitherto unknown. The long exposures (up to six hours) were made with extreme difficulty and required great patience, for the guiding telescopes were without illuminated reticles. He was obliged to use fine iron wires for cross hairs, and to throw the image of a bright star out of focus, maintaining equal intensity in all four quadrants separated by the wires' silhouette. Many of these remarkable photographs of the Milky Way and clusters, as well as of comets, were later assembled into Volume 11 of the Publications of the Lick Observatory” [offered here] (D.S.B I: 465). “The astronomical photographs which Professor has made… with the ‘Willard’ lens of the Lick Observatory… are the first photographs made to show the structure of the Milky Way… we must certainly admire, not merely the skill, but the courage of a man who could, under the very shadow of the 3 6inch refractor, demonstrate the merit of a lens which could be bought for a few shillings. How sobering that the very structure of our Milky Way Galaxy was revealed by a 6 inch portrait lens costing ‘a few shillings’ (Block and Freeman, Shrouds of the Night, 146). CONDITION & DETAILS: First edition. 4to. 46 pp; 129 plates, each with a detailed explanation of the plate on the verso. Ex-libris with only small plate on front paste down and small blind stamp on the title page. No spine markings whatsoever. ILLUSTRATION: Frontispiece; 129 large plates. Complete. EXTERIOR: Bound in original black cloth. The binding is slightly shaken and the rear hinge, though split, has been professionally reglued and the binding remains quite solid. The edge tips are a bit rubbed, more so at the spine where there are small areas where the cloth has worn away. INTERIOR: Complete. Bright and very clean throughout. & &
      [Bookseller: Atticus Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2013-08-01           Check availability:      Biblio    

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