First photo of a total solar eclipse ever taken, shot in 1851

Posted: August 5, 2017 in Uncategorized
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The first successfully captured photograph of a total solar eclipse, this daguerreotype was shot on July 28, 1851, by Prussian photographer Johann Julius Friedrich Berkowski.

Here’s a little history lesson to help you pass the time between now and the next total solar eclipse on August 21st. The photograph above, a daguerreotype captured almost exactly 166 years ago, is the first successfully-captured photograph of a total solar eclipse.

The photo was captured by master daguerreotypist Johann Julius Friedrich Berkowski, a Prussian photographer who was commissioned by the Royal Prussian Observatory at Königsberg to do what nobody else had managed up until that point: capture an appropriately-exposed photograph of a total solar eclipse.

Up until that point, every photograph taken had been over or under-exposed, and/or didn’t capture sufficient contrast between the bright corona and the obscuring disk of the moon.

According to a paper in the journal Acta Historica Astronomiae, the photograph was captured using a small refracting telescope attached to the hour drive of the 15.8-cm Fraunhofer heliometer. Berkowski began exposing the image shortly after totality, and the final daguerreotype took 84-seconds to capture.

To learn more about this photograph, click here: http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/2005AcHA…25..128S

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