Reading Nature, Observing Science: Examining Material Practices in the Lick Observatory Archives and Kenneth S. Norris Papers

Great Spiral Nebula, photographer unknown (likely James Keeler), 1899.

This is a four-hour exposure of the Great Spiral Nebula using the 36" Crossley reflector. Note the loss of detail described by Perrine or "faint nebulosity" described in the letters here; compare with the image of the spiral galaxy from 1914. N.B.: This is now known as the Whirlpool Galaxy. Astronomers did not yet understand the difference between nebulae and galaxies, believing that they were of the same nature. Most thought that all of these distant structures were contained within the Milky Way galaxy itself. The difference was confirmed in the 1920s; the work of one of the Lick's astronomers, Heber Curtis, contributed in part to this development.

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