Publisher Information: Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1887.
Mouchez, Ernest (1821-92). La photographie astronomique a l'Observatoire de Paris et la carte du ciel. 8vo. 107, pp. 7 plates, including 4 with original photographs tipped to mounts. Paris: Gauthier-Villars, 1887. 188 x 121 mm. Quarter morocco, marbled boards c. 1887, corners worn. Paper evenly toned, some light foxing in the plate leaves, one signature starting, otherwise very good.
First Edition. In 1880, with the appearance of gelatin-silver bromide plates, "whole programs of astronomical photography were launched, with real scientific vigor and on a scale appropriate to the potential of the photographic medium. Heavenly bodies-stars, galaxies-are visible only by virtue of their emission of light, which can be faithfully recorded on a photographic plate, beyond even the capacity of the human eye. . . . From that moment the 'known' universe was no longer defined by limits of human vision, and, since light is only a small part of the totality of electromagnetic radiation, these limits were pushed further and further back as different wavelengths of light were discovered" (Frizel, p. 278). In 1884 Paul and Prosper Henry, astronomers at the Paris Observatory, adopted photography as a means of augmenting their ability to record stars of the third degree, which give off very little light. They had a special lens made for the purpose, which they used in conjunction with equatorial and refracting telescopes, the movements of which exactly compensate for the earth's rotation in order to prevent any blurring or deformation of the star image during the necessarily long exposure times. In 1887 Rear-Admiral Ernest Mouchez, an astronomer and cartographer, launched a plan to compile a photographic map of the sky, enlisting the help of over a dozen observatories using the Henry's photographic telescope. The present work describes this plan; it includes four striking original photographs of the moon, Saturn and Jupiter. Mouchez, who became director of the Paris Observatory in 1888, expected that a complete photographic star map would be produced by 1891; however, the project still remains incomplete and may never be realized. Frizel, ed., A New History of Photography, pp. 278-79; illustrating one of the plates from this book on p. 273.Book Id: 38082