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By National Science and Media Museum on

The Universe in the Storeroom: Photographing the Stars

As the Hubble telescope turns 34, explore objects in our collection which were used to take early images of the universe.

The Hubble Telescope turns 34 today. But long before this technology was available, astronomers used astrophotography to map the position of the stars and to research the chemical makeup of the universe.

The Science Museum Group collection holds the cameras and equipment of the astronomer and chemist who invented photographic dry plates—William de Wiveleslie Abney—at our National Collections Centre in Wroughton.

In this video, Head Curator Charlotte Connelly and Assistant Curator Saquib Idrees share a behind-the-scenes peek at some of the early photographic technology used to photograph the stars. Then artist, photographer and senior camera nerd at West Yorkshire Cameras Adam French gives a demonstration of how dry plate photography is used today.


Film by Solvig Choi, CDP PHD Researcher at the University of Leeds and National Science and Media Museum.


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