Photograph of a Total Solar Eclipse (1860)


Warren de la Rue, total solar eclipse of 1860 in Spain. Stanford Solar Center
Warren de la Rue, total solar eclipse of 1860 in Spain. Stanford Solar Center

I previously blogged about our understanding of eclipses during the age of myth and early Indian astronomy. With this 1860 image by Warren De La Rue, we enter the photographic era of eclipse.

Taken during the July 18, 1860 total solar eclipse in Rivabellosa, Spain, this breathtaking image is one of our earliest photograph of this fantastic astronomical event. As discussed in this Stanford Solar Center entry, De La Rue was a "gentleman scientist." Specifically, he inherited his father's financial printing business and became richly successful printing national currencies and the like.

In his spare time, he kept a daily photographic record of solar activity. According to Getty Images, he used the Kew Photoheliograph, a camera telescope built in 1857 by Andrew Ross and designed by De La Rue himself.


About the Author: Robert Lamb spent his childhood reading books and staring into the woods — first in Newfoundland, Canada and then in rural Tennessee. There was also a long stretch in which he was terrified of alien abduction. He earned a degree in creative writing. He taught high school and then attended journalism school. He wrote for the smallest of small-town newspapers before finally becoming a full-time science writer and podcaster. He’s currently a senior writer at HowStuffWorks and has co-hosted the science podcast Stuff to Blow Your Mind since its inception in 2010. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling with his wife Bonnie, discussing dinosaurs with his son Bastian and crafting the occasional work of fiction.