Roster considered astronomy to be ideally suited to demonstrate the potential applications of photographic techniques. In 1840 John William Draper (1811-1882) captured an image of the Moon in a daguerreotype and since then much progress had been made. The use of astrophotography began to spread, gaining momentum during the second half of the 19th century, a period which saw the participation of many Italian astronomers. Among these Giovanni Battista Donati (1826-1873) and Angelo Secchi (1818-1878), two pioneers in stellar spectroscopy, were passionate advocates of the use of photography to study astronomical phenomena. This was clearly demonstrated by the photographs of a total solar eclipse taken on 18 July 1860 at Torreblanca in Spain by the members of a scientific expedition organized by Secchi.


Picture of the Moon (L.M. Rutherford, 1865)
The Swift’s Comet (M. Wolf, 26 May 1892)
Total solar eclipse, 18 July 1860
The solar eclipse of 1860
Poster with photographic prints of the solar eclipse of 6 March 1867
The Andromeda Galaxy
Equipment used to study astronomical photographic plates