Using a telescope, chemistry professor John W. Draper took the first known photograph of the moon – a Daguerreotype print – from his rooftop observatory at New York University in March of 1840. Also using a telescope, ChaseDesign industrial designer Carlos Suarez took a digital photo of the moon from the deck of his home in 2015. While not such a monumental achievement, this latter photo had its challenges.
“Once you have the moon in your crosshairs,” Carlos noted, “you only have about a minute to take the photo, because the earth is spinning while you’re looking.”
His interest in astronomy was kindled by astrophysicists Carl Sagan and Neil deGrasse Tyson, and enabled by the gift of a telescope, a Celestron 114mm Equitorial. At nightfall and soon after, when the planets are at their brightest, Carlos can see the icecaps on Mars, the six largest of Jupiter’s 67 moons, and Venus, shrouded in its clouds of sulphuric acid. But only the moon is close enough for a photograph.
The Moon by Carlos Suarez
Seeing the moon so clearly takes away none of its wonder. “When you can truly understand a natural phenomenon and unweave its secrets,” Carlos says, “it becomes even more awe inspiring.”
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Banner painting above, a detail from "The Astronomer" (1668) by Johannes Vermeer