The Face of the Moon

19. Rutherfurd, Lewis Morris (1816-1892).

"Third Quarter, Sept. 16, 1870," [lunar photograph] facing p. 230 in: Proctor, Richard A. The Moon. -- New York: D. Appleton and Co., 1873.

One solution to the problem of reproducing photographs for publication was simply to make positive paper prints and paste them into books. This was expensive, time-consuming, and not always aesthetically pleasing, but it solved the difficulty of capturing tone in a black-and-white medium. Richard Proctor, the greatest popularizer of astronomy in the nineteenth century, used this expedient in his treatise on the moon. In addition to numerous lithographs and wood engravings, and a large folding lunar map by T.W. Webb, there are three photographic prints of the moon by the American Lewis Rutherfurd, whom Proctor called the greatest lunar photographer of the age.

image - click to enlarge

Rutherfurd in 1864 had built the first refracting telescope with an "actinic" rather than a visual focus, which is to say it was designed specifically for the violet light waves (the actinic or chemical rays) that affect the photographic plate, rather than the waves to which the human eye is receptive. The photograph exhibited here was taken at Rutherfurd's observatory in New York City on September 16, 1870.

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