On This Day in Space! March 23, 1840: First Photo of the Moon

On March 23, 1840, a New Yorker named John William Draper became the first person to take a photo of the moon.

Draper was a doctor, scientist and photographer who studied photochemistry to come up with better ways to take pictures. Before Draper photographed the moon, another photographer Louis Daguerre had tried to do the same, but his image came out fuzzy.

Capturing the moon in a so-called daguerreotype image involved long exposures, and Daguerre had some technical difficulties while tracking the moon’s movement with his telescope. Draper’s first successful photo also took several tries. He took a 20-minute exposure with a 5-inch telescope to create a daguerreotype of the moon, and he publicly announced his results on March 23.

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Catch up on our entire “On This Day In Space” series on YouTube with this playlist.

Email Hanneke Weitering at hweitering@space.com or follow her @hannekescience. Follow us @Spacedotcom and on Facebook

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