Moon model by James Nasmyth

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Model of a portion of the moon

Models of portions of the moon's surface were made by James Nasmyth to provide illustrations for his book entitled 'The Moon considered as a Planet, a World and a Satellite', written with John Carpenter and published in 1874.

How it works

The plaster models of the moon's surface were illuminated by sunlight and photographed to provide the book's illustrations. Nasmyth considered that these gave more faithful representations of the moon's surface than could at that time be obtained by photography through a telescope. At the time, photography was not sufficiently advanced to adapt to astrophotography. Thus James Nasmyth and John Carpenter used their combined drawings of the lunar surface to laboriously create large-scale plaster models of various areas of the lunar surface. They then took photographs of the models, created stunning panoramas for the time. Unfortunately, though they did a magnificent work and appear to have the altitude of the mountains correct, the slope grades were wildly inaccurate. They also used an expensive printing technique no longer used, called woodburytypes <> to represent the pictures accurately.

In the Science Museum's Records

Inv. No: 1899-60