4. Astronomy and print, Fine art, Popular Astronomy, Prints, drawings and watercolours, Astronomical and navigational instruments

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The Central Sun and Theory of the Stellar Universe

4. Astronomy and print

Object details:

Object ID AST0051.10
Description One of a set of 12 hand-tinted astronomical prints with an explanatory card. The publisher is identified on each print as J. Reynolds or James Reynolds of the Strand, London. These cards were first issued by Reynolds in 1846, although he and other publishers continued to produce them throughout the second half of the 19th century. They responded to a perceived market for popular science products and were intended for informal learning within the home. They could be bought in sets or singly and, at a price of 1 shilling, were affordable to middle class audiences. A number of the cards have tissue paper backings and holes in the card in order to allow the user to hold them up to the light and see the stars, planets or phases of the Moon displayed as light areas against a darker background. Several of the more detailed images were drawn and engraved by John Emslie, who also collaborated with Reynolds on another set of diagrams, "Illustrations of Natural Philosophy". Reynolds’ educational diagrams received a prize medal at the International Exhibition of 1862. One of a set of 12 hand-tinted astronomical prints with explanatory card. The image on this card depicts the mid-19th century conception of the Universe, with our Sun as just one of the stars of the Milky Way galaxy. The text at the bottom refers to the ideas of William Herschel (1738-1822) and Johann Heinrich von Mädler (1794-1874), who came up with the Central Sun Hypothesis, suggesting that the centre of the galaxy was located in the Pleiades star cluster, around which the Sun revolves.
Date made 1846-1860

Artist/Maker Reynolds, James
Place made London
Credit National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
Materials paper; engraving
Measurements 292 x 235 mm
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