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

The Lick Observatory: Eclipse Expeditions

Between 1889 and 1932 the Lick Observatory astronomers conducted 17 expeditions across 6 continents to observe and photograph eclipses. These expeditions strove to answer the following questions:
What is the solar corona?
Why does the sun have a corona?
Can General Relativity be proved?
And, are there other planets or unknown bodies revolving around the sun?

John M. Schaeberle designed
a 40ft portable telescope that was used in different configurations for the majority of these expeditions. To defray costs, the Lick relied on volunteers in each location to assist with the setup and manipulation of the telescope and photographic equipment. During this time, the Directors of the Lick saw the documentation and analysis of eclipses as a core contribution of the Lick to the field of astronomy, both in attempting to answer the questions posed above, but also simply to record and archive the eclipses for posterity.

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