The Face of the Moon

29. Observatoire de Paris .

Atlas Photographique de la Lune / Exécuté par M. M[aurice] Loewy et M. P[ierre Henri] Puiseux.-- Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1896-1909.

The Paris Observatory Atlas, as it was usually called, contained 80 large photographs of different regions of the moon, taken over the course of 14 years. The photographs are not all to the same scale, and the entire face of the moon was not covered, but nevertheless it was unequalled as a photographic atlas until 1960, and the quality of the plates has perhaps never been surpassed. One interesting feature of the photographs is that a hand operated shutter was used to give the brightest areas the least exposure on the negatives. The final prints were produced by the unusual sand photogravure technique.

image - click to enlarge

The plate labelled "Aristarchus-Kepler-Grimaldi" presents a grand view of the Ocean of Storms. Schröter's Valley stands out near Aristarchus at the bottom of the detail shown, as does the ray system from Olbers at the right. Particularly striking is the white smear above center. This feature is unique on the near-side of the moon and is possibly the result of an impacting comet. Now known as Reiner Gamma, it is also of historical interest, because Riccioli gave it the name Galilaeus on his 1651 map. When Galilaeus turned out to be a white spot, and not a crater, the name (now Galilaei) had to be reassigned to the insignificant pair of craters just below and to the right. Riccioli won the final round against his Copernican adversary.

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