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

Illustrating the Cosmos

Our research in the Lick Observatory archives has uncovered correspondence and sketches from Étienne Trouvelot, a French artist and astronomer known for his whimsical illustrations of celestial objects. Trouvelot worked with the Lick Observatory's first director, Edward S. Holden, at the U.S. Naval Observatory while Holden was a professor of astronomy there. It seems they continued to communicate throughout Holden's tenure at the Lick. 

We wonder how Trouvelot's relationship with the Lick ultimately impacted the illustrations and photographs created there. Holden created astronomical illustrations in his own scrapbook, but ultimately, he held that  photographic images are much more objective and factual than illustrations. The archives also contain several illustrations created by other astronomers at the Lick Observatory; displayed here are illustrations and sketches by James Keeler, J.M. Schaeberle, and Samuel Langley, as well as images collected in the archives from astronomers at other observatories.

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