go to HOME


  The research archive of Gary W. Ewer regarding the history of the daguerreotype

On this day (September 27) in the year 1850, the following article appeared in the "Boston Daily Evening Transcript": - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - PHOTOGRAPHY APPLIED TO ASTROGRAPHY. By the following letter, addressed to a friend in London, and by him communicated to us, it will be seen that Mr Mayall claims the credit of having first "daguerreotyped the Heavens;" 433 West Stand, 13 August, 1850. Dear Sir: I am extremely obliged for your kind note and papers in relation to the application of Photography to the mapping out of the Heavens, an idea which struck me in 1845, and which I successfully carried out three years ago, as specimens will show that are now in the hands of several scientific men in London--a very beautiful copy of the moon and an occulation of a star, in the possession of Prof Taylor, of Guy's. In fact, I had a reflecting telescope of 9 inch aperature made for the purpose, (Gregorian) and put the Daguerrian plate in the place of the little metal, but my images were taken instantaneously, and think a refractor by no means applicable to the subject even if equitorially mounted. The length of time, 30 seconds, would prevent a correct image being taken, and I know it is not possible with high powers to prevent tremor and consequently distortion. I am but too happy to learn that the subject is being followed out by a gentleman of the talent and perseverance of Mr Bond, and shall be happy to furnish him with all the experience I accumulated while investigating the subject, which, by the by, I am preparing to resume this following winter. Believe me ever yours, very truly, J. E. MAYALL. (A note from Gary: I've received occasional comments from some recipients about the long list of email addresses that precedes the message. As I send these messages with the entire distribution list in the "bcc" field, you really shouldn't be seeing the list's addresses. However, some older e-mail programs apparently do not hide the list from the viewer. My apologies if this is the case with you, but I am unable to send this in any other way.) ----------------------------------------------------------------- 09-27-96

Return to: DagNews