Photography in Stellar Astronomy


    A RADIO talk by the late Dr. Annie J. Cannon, entitled “The Story of Starlight”, delivered on January 18 last, from Harvard Observatory, appears in the Telescope of May–June. A short description is given of the developments in spectroscopy since 1666 when Newton bought a crude prism at a country fair, “to try therewith the phenomena of colour“. It is remarkable that two hundred years elapsed before Newton's work was carried to fruition, but when the potentialities in the study of spectra were realized, there was joy in being an astronomer. As Sir William Huggins remarked, “Those were the days when there was something worth while to do in astronomy”. Dr. Cannon gives a brief account of photographic developments with special reference to the work of Harvard, where there are half a million negatives, which may be likened to a library of first and only editions, the whole forming the sole record of events observed in the stellar universe during the last half–century. The brief survey includes the important discovery of Miss Leavitt on the relation between the period of pulsation of a Cepheid variable star and its candle–power—a discovery which provides the data for determining the distances of these stars. This radio talk will be read with interest by the amateur astronomer.

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    Photography in Stellar Astronomy. Nature 148, 369 (1941) doi:10.1038/148369b0

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