Photographic positive, the moon showing the area of Copernicus at scale of 20-inches, glass / gelatin, used at Sydney Observatory, photograph by James Short and H. C. Russell, Sydney, 1891
Sometime around July 1891 Sydney Observatory received a new enlarging lens for the Sydney Observatory astrograph or star camera. This attachment, when combined enabled the observatory to take highly magnified images of double stars, the moon and other objects.
In 1890 H. C. Russell, the Government Astronomer, had made experiments using a Dallmeyer portrait lens and while proud of these photographs Russell felt the new lens combination enabled far more detail to be captured. After a series of trials between April and July 1891 Russell, and the observatory photographer James Short, experimented with the camera, taking photographs of the moon as well as the stars. Russell described these photographs as being, 'Â? finer than anything which has been done, or at least published before.
This photographic plate illustrates the important role the Sydney Astrograph played in the development of astronomy in Australia. it is also important as it is rare surviving examples of early experiments with one of Australia's earliest star cameras.
For more information see associated Powerhouse Theme, 'Sydney Observatory Moon Photographs 1891'.
Geoff Barker, Curatorial, September 2008
Harley Wood, Astrographic Catalogue 1900.0, Sydney Section -52Â° to -64Â°, from Photographs Taken at the Sydney Observatory, New South Wales Australia, volume LIII, V.C.N. Blight, Government Printer, 1971
Russell, H.C., 'Notes on Some Celestial Photographs recently taken at the Sydney Observatory', in Journal and Proceedings of the Royal Society of New South Wales for 1891, Kegan Paul, Tench, Turner & Co., Limited, London, 1892