First Photograph of the Moon

On this date in 1839, French painter and physicist, Louis Daguerre, took the first “photograph” of the Moon.  Unfortunately, later that same year, his laboratory burned down and destroyed his notes and the image.

This image is a daguerreotype from 1851 taken by John Adams Whipple.

A daguerreotype is the photographic process discovered by Daguerre that involves an iodized silver plate in a camera being exposed to external light… the image could be made to last if the image on the plate was exposed to mercury fumes during development and then fixed by running the plate through a solution using common salt.

Daguerreotypes were very popular in the mid 1800s. President Abraham Lincoln used the technology to have his image saved. And the process was used to document portions of the Civil War. But, the process needed such a long time with the “lens” open that an image of a Parisian street seemed to show no people on it, since they moved before their image could be captured!

Photography has made leaps and bounds since the dangerous use of mercury, but you can read more about Louis Daguerre by clicking here and here.


Eileen Loan

Eileen Loan

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