The first photograph of the Moon was taken 181 years ago

John William Draper, a chemistry professor at New York University, took the first successful photograph of an astronomical object, the Moon, on March 23, 1840, now 181 years ago.

The achievement was made possible by taking a 20-minute long daguerreotype image using a 13-inch reflecting telescope.

The first known attempt at astronomical photography was that of the Frenchman Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, inventor of the daguerreotype process named after him, who in 1839 tried to photograph the Moon. Tracking errors when guiding the telescope during long exposure meant that the photograph came out as a blur.

Therefore, Draper’s image is considered the first in the history of astrophotography. In 1843, Draper made daguerreotypes of the solar spectrum that revealed new infrared and ultraviolet lines, Wikipedia reports.

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