The history of photography is full of iconic moments. Many of these are visual records of the world’s most extraordinary and unforgettable people, places and events. Others changed the way we see the world and the universe forever. Whether you’re into astrophotography or all things space, this historic eclipse photo should definitely be of interest to you.
Among the challenges that scientists face throughout the history of astronomy is obtaining photographic evidence to support their theories and observations. It’s either the technology wasn’t available to them back then, or the objects they are observing are so far away that it’s very challenging to image them in the visible light spectrum. The Vox “Darkroom” episode above tells us about one of these scenarios: taking photos of distant stars while the sun is out. Of course, it’s only possible through a total solar eclipse — at the right place and the right time.
While there are now many photos of total solar eclipses, only one of them is special. Taken on May 29, 1919 in Sobral, Brazil, the photo was instrumental to testing one of the components of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. In turn, it became the photo that made Einstein a celebrity. That makes it a very important photo in the fields of science and history!