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Monday, August 21, 2017

Solar Eclipse Collections at the Smithsonian

Are you excited about the eclipse today? So are we! Over the centuries, people have long been fascinated by solar and lunar eclipses. The Smithsonian Institution has many eclipse related and inspired collections. Check some of them out on the Smithsonian Collections Search Center.

Here are a few highlights:

This National Portrait Gallery photograph from 1869 depicts John A. Whipple (center, left) and the Harvard Observatory team photographing a rare solar eclipse. An inventor and photographer, Whipple was also the first person to photograph the moon's surface in great detail in 1851.
John A. Whipple and the Harvard Astronomical Expedition to photograph a rare solar eclipse (1869). National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Larry J. West, NPG.2007.127.
Astronomical Photographer and Professor Henry Draper took this photograph of a total solar eclipse on July 29, 1878. You can read more about Draper and his scientific family in the National Museum of American History’s Draper Family Collection finding aid on the Smithsonian Online Virtual Archives (SOVA).

Photograph of the Corona 1878, [photograph reprint], National Museum of American History, Archive Center, AC0121-0000001.
In 1901, future Smithsonian Secretary Charles G. Abbot, then working at Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, traveled to Sumatra to study a solar eclipse. Though cloudy weather prevented a perfect viewing for Abbot, but colleagues stationed in other locations were able to gather data. Read more about Abbot's adventures from the Smithsonian Institution Archives: The Best-Laid Plans of Mice and Astronomers

1901 Sumatra Eclipse Expedition, Smithsonian Institution Archives, Image Number 94-12603

If you want to learn more about how to view the solar eclipse safely, check out the National Air and Space Museum’s website for some great videos including this one on fun ways to view the eclipse.

Stay safe everyone and happy eclipse viewing!

Emily Moazami, Assistant Head Archivist

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