Title graphic for the exhibit: From Eyeballs to Electrons page title: Master Photographer

E. E. Barnard at the telescope Edward Emerson Barnard guiding the first version of his wide-field camera.

Several of Lick's early staff astronomers made important use of photography, and indeed contributed significantly to its development and wide acceptance as an essential observing tool. Among them was one of the first true masters of celestial photography, Edward Emerson Barnard.

Barnard had learned photography the hard way. As a child in Nashville, Tennessee, he was forced to leave school to support his family, taking work as a portrait photographer's assistant. Years later, as a member of Lick's original scientific staff, Barnard combined his photographic know-how, his consummate skill as an observer, and the fine observing conditions on Mount Hamilton to produce breathtaking wide-field photographs of the Milky Way and comets which stand among the great accomplishments—and most compellingly beautiful images—in astrophotography.

Telescopes of the time had fields of view too narrow to record the glittering fields of stars, great clouds of luminous gas, and inky regions of dust strewn across the Milky Way. To make them visible, Barnard needed a camera with both a wide field and substantial light grasp. He found it in the Willard lens, made for portraiture but adapted by Barnard for celestial photography. His resulting Milky Way photographs revealed our galaxy as it had never before been seen.

Click on the thumbnails below for more on the work of E. E. Barnard. Barnard at the 36-inch refractor E. E. Barnard Barnard's eclipse camera at Bartlett Springs, CA, 1889 Corona, 1889 Willard lens Willard lens star clouds in ophiucus Nebula in Ophiuchus Comet Brooks Comet IV 1889