“Daguerreotypes Of The Moon” (from The Schoolmate, January 1854; p. 75)
Probably most of our readers will like to hear of this remarkable experiment in daguerreotyping. This wonderful invention has been used for years to amuse the public, and minister to our affections, by presenting faithful portraits of the absent or lost ones. It has now been fairly pressed into the service of the science of astronomy, and has been eminently successful.
A lunar daguerreotype was taken by Mr. S. D. Humphrey, of Canandaigua, N. Y. At a meeting of the Cambridge Scientific Association, in 1849, five of Mr. Humphrey’s pictures were exhibited by Mr. Wells. Since that time Mr. Whipple, the daguerreotypist of Boston, has been very successful in daguerreotyping the moon, using the great reflecting telescope at Cambridge for that purpose. But lately he has quite popularized these lunar transcripts by the newly-discovered art of daguerreotyping on glass. This art, which is called crystalotyping, has never yielded more beautiful results. Mr. Whipple’s crystalotype of the moon ranks among the wonders of the age, and, by its easy reproduction, enables every person, whose cultivated taste leads them to care for such things, to possess a picture of the moon, actually drawn by herself. The picture, let us observe, is a faithful copy of the lunar features—as faithful as an ordinary daguerreotype of a friend’s face. Nothing more curious has ever fallen under our notice.
These pictures are exhibited at the Crystal Palace, where they attract, as they deserve, the attention of the public.
When we consider the minute accuracy with which daguerreotypes may be taken, we can readily perceive that the art may hereafter be applied to great advantage in astronomical research. I once looked at a small daguerreotype of a landscape through a magnifying glass; every little object appeared distinct and life-like. The leaves could be plainly seen upon the trees, and little birds appeared upon the branches, which no one supposed were in the picture. In a distant house, every brick could be counted. It is not improbable, therefore, that we shall be able to take exact likenesses of the sun, moon, and stars, that future astronomers can refer to for assistance in their studies.