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The photograph of the sky or astrophotography Since the early years of the twentieth century, it has played an increasingly important role in astronomical research. It offers two substantial advantages over visual observation: first, it gives the possibility to fix details of the observed object that the astronomer can then analyze in the laboratory; second and most important, it allows us to perceive objects invisible to the human eye.

By placing a photographic film in the primary focus of a telescope, while automatically tracking the movement of the stars, it is possible to make exposures of a few hours, collecting small amounts of light from very weak and distant objects.

The first astronomical photographs were taken in 1840, shortly after the invention of the photographic plate, by the American John W. Draper and had as its theme the Moon. In 1842, physicist G. A. Majocchi photographed the solar eclipse of July 8. In 1958, the English amateur astronomer Warren de la Rue invented photoheliography and began the realization of a series of daily photographs of sunspots and spots. The stars, and in particular Vega, were first photographed in 1850 in the United States by W. C. Bond. In 1881, photography is also used for the analysis of comets and nebulae by G. Huggins and J. Janssen, first director of the Meudon Astrophysical Observatory, near Versailles.

Other applications of astronomical photography have been: the investigation of asteroids initiated in 1891 by Max Wolf, as well as the study of polar auroras, of the zodiacal light, of shooting stars.

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• Astronomical photography, Astrophotography

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