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A 19th-century artist’s astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today.

French artist Etienne Léopold Trouvelot sketched gorgeous illustrations of planets, star clusters, meteor showers, and eclipses in the 19th century.

French artist Etienne Léopold Trouvelot sketched gorgeous illustrations of planets, star clusters, meteor showers, and eclipses in the 19th century.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 1

The Orion nebula, as Etienne Léopold Trouvelot drew it (left), and as NASA telescopes captured it (right). Credit: E. L. Trouvelot, from The New York Public Library; NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI

  • French artist Etienne Léopold Trouvelot sketched gorgeous illustrations of planets, star clusters, meteor showers, and eclipses in the 19th century.
  • He worked for the Harvard College observatory, using a telescope with a grid etched into the glass eyepiece and sketching his astronomical observations on grid paper.
  • Trouvelot published 15 of his sketches as pastels. They’re some of the best-preserved astronomical drawings of the 19th century.
  • Some illustrations are incredibly accurate, documenting moon craters and solar flares with scientific precision. Others are more creative and abstract, projecting Trouvelot’s artistic expression onto the cosmos.
  • Today, sophisticated observatories and space telescopes snap images of the same celestial phenomena that Trouvelot captured more than 150 years ago. Here’s how the 19th-century drawings compare to contemporary photos.
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Etienne Léopold Trouvelot spent hours peering at planets, star clusters, and solar eruptions through a telescope with a grid etched into its glass eyepiece.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 2

Three sketches of craters on the moon, produced in 1872 by Etienne Léopold Trouvelot. Credit: SSPL/Getty Images

Born in France in 1827, Trouvelot is most famous for bringing gypsy moths with him to the US. The invasive insect would go on to spread across North America, devouring more than 300 species of trees and shrubs.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 3

In 1896, workers attempted to eradicate gypsy moth larvae from a large elm tree near Etienne Trouvelot’s home in Malden, Massachusetts. Credit: Library of Congress

But Trouvelot was also an artist, and he got a job sketching astronomical observations at Harvard College’s observatory. He drew what he saw through the gridded telescope.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 4

People look at a drawing by Etienne Leopold Trouvelot called “Total Eclipse of the Sun” (1882) on July 1, 2019, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Credit: Thomas Urbain/AFP/Getty Images

Over time, he turned many of those sketches into pastels and published 15 of them in The Trouvelot Astronomical Drawings Manual. This one shows sunspots.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 5

Credit: E. L. Trouvelot, from The New York Public Library

These are dark patches of reduced temperatures that temporarily appear on the sun’s surface.

More than 150 years later, photographic observatories on Earth and sophisticated telescopes in space are capturing the subjects of Trouvelot’s drawings.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 6

An active region on the sun, with dark sunspots. Credit: NASA/SDO/AIA/HMI/Goddard Space Flight Center

Compared to the real thing, some of his art is shockingly accurate, like this drawing of plasma bursting from the sun’s surface.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 7

Credit: E. L. Trouvelot, from The New York Public Library

NASA now has plenty of footage of flares and eruptions on the sun. Many of the explosions look just like Trouvelot’s illustration.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 8

A solar flare, captured November 1, 2014. Credit: NASA/Solar Dynamics Observatory

In other drawings Trouvelot appears to have taken more artistic liberties, like this tribute to the aurora borealis.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 9

Credit: E. L. Trouvelot, from The New York Public Library

In reality, those green and purple ribbons aren’t usually so linear.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 10

The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) is seen over the sky near Rovaniemi in Lapland, Finland, October 7, 2018. Credit: Alexander Kuznetsov/Reuters

His depictions of the sun and moon in particular were exquisitely detailed.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 11

Credit: E. L. Trouvelot, from The New York Public Library

He captured this 500-mile-wide region of the moon, called Mare Humorum, or Sea of Moisture, with camera-like precision.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 12

Mare Humorum, imaged in 1966. Credit: The Lunar and Planetary Institute

Trouvelot’s illustration of Jupiter includes the planet’s Great Red Spot, a raging cyclone large enough to swallow the Earth.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 13

Credit: E. L. Trouvelot, from The New York Public Library

It looks different than today’s photos, but that’s probably because the Great Red Spot has been shrinking and getting more circular since astronomers began observing it about 150 years ago.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 14

This Hubble Space Telescope view of Jupiter, taken on June 27, 2019, reveals the giant planet’s trademark Great Red Spot. Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center) and M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley)

Astronomers had been peering at Saturn for centuries by the time Trouvelot sketched it.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 15

Credit: E. L. Trouvelot, from The New York Public Library

But in recent decades, spacecraft like NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope have gotten closer, sharper looks.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 16

NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope captured this image of Saturn on July 4, 2020. Two of Saturn’s icy moons are visible: Mimas at right, and Enceladus at bottom. Credit: NASA, ESA, A. Simon (Goddard Space Flight Center), M.H. Wong (University of California, Berkeley), and the OPAL Team

Trouvelot’s depiction of Saturn was straightforward, but his Mars was more abstract.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 17

Credit: E. L. Trouvelot, from The New York Public Library

Perhaps he caught the planet during a dust storm, but nothing on its surface today makes such a dramatic swirl.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 18

The Hubble Space Telescope took this snapshot of Mars in the 1990s. Credit: Steve Lee University of Colorado, Jim Bell Cornell University, Mike Wolff Space Science Institute, and NASA

Looking beyond our solar system, Trouvelot spotted the Orion nebula — a dense cloud of gas that constantly forms new stars, 1,500 light-years from Earth.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 19

Credit: E. L. Trouvelot, from The New York Public Library

NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes have captured Orion in three different light spectra, revealing gas layers of the stellar nursery.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 20

A composite image from NASA’s Spitzer and Hubble Space Telescopes shows the Orion nebula in visible, ultraviolet, and infrared light. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/STScI

This image is color-coded for different molecules. The yellow smudge at the center is home to four massive stars, which heat and ionize hydrogen and sulfur gas in the surrounding cloud of green. The red and orange represent clouds filled with carbon-rich organic molecules.

Trouvelot also turned his telescope to the Hercules constellation to capture the cosmic glow of its dense star cluster.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 21

Credit: E. L. Trouvelot, from The New York Public Library

Hubble can zoom in much closer, though. The result is an exquisite, colorful portrait of more than 100,000 stars at the cluster’s center.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 22

A Hubble Space Telescope composite image of the core of the M13 star cluster. Credit: NASA/ESA/Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA); Acknowledgment: C. Bailyn (Yale University), W. Lewin (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), A. Sarajedini (University of Florida), and W. van Altena (Yale University)

Trouvelot captured another eerie glow here on Earth: the zodiacal light.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 23

Credit: E. L. Trouvelot, from The New York Public Library

This triangular gleam appears on the horizon when dust orbiting the sun reflects its light towards the night side of Earth.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 24

The zodiacal light in Skull Valley, Utah on March 1, 2021. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Trouvelot captured other celestial phenomenon that didn’t require a telescope as well — like this comet that surprised the world in the summer of 1881.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 25

Credit: E. L. Trouvelot, from The New York Public Library

Today, comets passing close to Earth are heavily documented by amateur and professional photographers.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 26

Comet Neowise streaks past an Orthodox church over the Turets, Belarus, early Tuesday, July 14, 2020. Credit: Sergei Grits/AP Photo

Trouvelot also sketched the paths of dozens of meteors — small space rocks that burn up in Earth’s atmosphere as our planet passes through a field of space debris.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 27

Credit: E. L. Trouvelot, from The New York Public Library

In the drawing above, he was likely sketching the Leonids during their peak in mid-November. The shower comes from debris left in Earth’s orbit by the Tempel-Tuttle comet.

That drawing resembles long-exposure images that capture the dozens, or even hundreds, of shooting stars that streak across the skies every hour during meteor showers.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 28

The Geminids meteor shower over the Mexican volcano Popocatepetl in the Mexican state of Puebla in the early hours of December 14, 2004. Credit: Daniel Aguilar/Reuters

Trouvelot also took an interest in eclipses. He sketched this partial lunar eclipse, when Earth’s shadow blocked much of the sun’s light from hitting the moon, in October 1874.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 29

Credit: E. L. Trouvelot, from The New York Public Library

With modern cameras, the shadowed region of the moon during a partial eclipse appears much darker than in Trouvelot’s pastel.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 30

A partial lunar eclipse in Brasilia, Brazil, July 16, 2019. Credit: Ueslei Marcelino/Reuters

He also drew a total solar eclipse. It depicts the sun’s outer atmosphere, called the corona, shining from behind the darkened moon.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 31

Credit: E. L. Trouvelot, from The New York Public Library

The corona is only visible during a total solar eclipse. In photographs, it’s more subtle.

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The sun’s corona shines from behind the moon during a total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017. Credit: NASA/Carla Thomas

Trouvelot studied the Milky Way arcing across the night sky in 1874, 1875, and 1876 for this illustration.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 33

Credit: E. L. Trouvelot, from The New York Public Library

But today’s astronauts can capture a far more vibrant and breathtaking Milky Way from space.

A 19th-century artist's astronomical drawings are stunningly accurate. Compare them to NASA images today. 34

Astronaut Scott Kelly posted this photo of the Milky Way, as seen from the International Space Station, on August 9, 2015. Credit: NASA/Scott Kelly

Published by Morgan McFall-Johnsen.

Source: businessinsider.com

Nguồn: https://www.businessinsider.com/19th-century-astronomy-drawings-match-nasa-images-today-2021-9
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Navy Phan is an editor at Justbartanews. She edits nature, space, mystery, and interesting facts on Science. She hopes she can bring more interesting and useful information to all Justbartanews's readers.

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