• Detail: Tracing Luminaries: Plate No. I6914 (Small Magellanic Cloud)

    2022

    Edition of 8

    One of a portfolio of six gilded intaglio prints with chine collé. These prints were editioned from laser engraved cast acrylic plates, inked with transparent base, and then printed onto a starlight-exposed cyanotyped Okuwara collé on Hahnemühle Copperplate. The image was then revealed with 24 karat gold leaf.

    Plate Description:

    Observatory: Harvard College Observatory, Cambridge, Massachusetts

    Telescope: 8-inch Draper Doublet, Voigtlander Reworked by Clark

    Date Exposed: 8 September 1892; Exposure: 13 minutes

    Right Ascension: 18 hours, 48 minutes; Declination: +38.2 degrees

    Class: L; Quality: 4

    Plate Events: Marks removed; plate scanned for DASCH (2010-01-28T17:01:16).

    Marked by: This plate appears to have been marked by more than one woman, although no initials appear on the plate jacket and thus their identities are not known for certain.

    Curatorial & Astronomical Notes: This plate appears to have been marked in a style that indicates it was used in the study of Proper Motion. The plate number is referenced in the notebooks of Henrietta Swan Leavitt’s in her study of variables in the Small Magellanic cloud. She notes the plate number and “Var. off edge” in her 1903 notebook on page 11, dated 28 October.

  • Tracing Luminaries: Plate No. I6914 (Small Magellanic Cloud)

    2022

    Edition of 8

    One of a portfolio of six gilded intaglio prints with chine collé. These prints were editioned from laser engraved cast acrylic plates, inked with transparent base, and then printed onto a starlight-exposed cyanotyped Okuwara collé on Hahnemühle Copperplate. The image was then revealed with 24 karat gold leaf.

    Plate Description:

    Observatory: Harvard College Observatory, Cambridge, Massachusetts

    Telescope: 8-inch Draper Doublet, Voigtlander Reworked by Clark

    Date Exposed: 8 September 1892; Exposure: 13 minutes

    Right Ascension: 18 hours, 48 minutes; Declination: +38.2 degrees

    Class: L; Quality: 4

    Plate Events: Marks removed; plate scanned for DASCH (2010-01-28T17:01:16).

    Marked by: This plate appears to have been marked by more than one woman, although no initials appear on the plate jacket and thus their identities are not known for certain.

    Curatorial & Astronomical Notes: This plate appears to have been marked in a style that indicates it was used in the study of Proper Motion. The plate number is referenced in the notebooks of Henrietta Swan Leavitt’s in her study of variables in the Small Magellanic cloud. She notes the plate number and “Var. off edge” in her 1903 notebook on page 11, dated 28 October.

  • Tracing Luminaries: Plate No. A3657 (Jupiter)

    2022

    Edition of 8

    One of a portfolio of six gilded intaglio prints with chine collé. These prints were editioned from laser engraved cast acrylic plates, inked with transparent base, and then printed onto a starlight-exposed cyanotyped Okuwara collé on Hahnemühle Copperplate. The image was then revealed with 24 karat gold leaf.

    Plate Description:

    Observatory: Harvard Boyden Station, Arequipa, Peru

    Telescope: 24-inch Bruce Doublet

    Date Exposed: 27 June 1899; Exposure: 174 minutes (shutter closed 54 minutes)

    Right Ascension: 13 hours, 54 minutes; Declination: -10.3 degrees

    Class: L; Quality: 4

    Plate Events: Marks removed (2021-02-04T14:16:43); plate not yet scanned for DASCH at the time of this printing.

    Marked by: This plate was marked by Sylvia Mussells, possibly Henrietta Swan Leavitt, and three to four other unidentified women; the various ink types suggest that the markings span the turn of the century to 1930s/40s.

    Curatorial & Astronomical Notes: This plate shows the planet Jupiter and was used to confirm the discovery of Jupiter’s 8th moon, which was later named Pasiphae. The plate jacket was notated by Sylvia Mussells indicating this plate was used in identifying 22 new galaxies, which at that time were still referred to generically as “nebula”; The plate jacket also notes, in an unidentified hand, that the plate was used in magnitude measurements at Harvard Observatory. The plate appears in Henrietta Swan Leavitt’s notebook entitled “Book XXXV: Objects looked up by Request” and is noted on pages 7 and 8, dated June 13, 1914 for research related to Jupiter’s moons. This plate survived the flood of 2016 with minimal damage to the markings.

  • Tracing Luminaries: Plate No. AM1079 (Variable star in Pegasus & Markab)

    2022

    Edition of 8

    One of a portfolio of six gilded intaglio prints with chine collé. These prints were editioned from laser engraved cast acrylic plates, inked with transparent base, and then printed onto a starlight-exposed cyanotyped Okuwara collé on Hahnemühle Copperplate. The image was then revealed with 24 karat gold leaf.

    Plate Description:

    Observatory: Harvard Boyden Station, Arequipa, Peru

    Telescope: 1-inch, 1.5-inch Cooke Lenses

    Date Exposed: 02 October 1901; Exposure: 61 minutes

    Right Ascension: 23 hours, 00 (1855) minutes; Declination: +15.1 degrees

    Class: L; Quality: 3

    Plate Events: Marks removed; plate scanned for DASCH (2019-04-25T17-40-34).

    Marked by: This plate appears to have been marked by one, possibly two women, although no initials appear on the plate jacket and thus their identities are not known for certain. However, the plate was used in Henrietta Swan Leavitt’s research, and it is possible that she and/or her assistants made the markings.

    Curatorial & Astronomical Notes: This plate appears on page 28, dated 06 October 1904 in Henrietta Swan Leavitt’s notebook titled “Miscellaneous Observations,” which spans the years 1904 to 1910. The star that is encircled by the woman’s mark is Markab, which is the third-brightest star in the constellation Pegasus. The star that the tail of the woman’s mark is pointing to is a variable star, today known as HD 218155.

  • Tracing Luminaries: Plate No. I20197 (Variable stars in Taurus & The Pleiades)

    2022

    Edition of 8

    One of a portfolio of six gilded intaglio prints with chine collé. These prints were editioned from laser engraved cast acrylic plates, inked with transparent base, and then printed onto a starlight-exposed cyanotyped Okuwara collé on Hahnemühle Copperplate. The image was then revealed with 24 karat gold leaf.

    Plate Description:

    Observatory: Harvard College Observatory, Cambridge, Massachusetts

    Telescope: 8-inch Draper Doublet, Voigtlander Reworked by Clark

    Date Exposed: 10 February 1898; Exposure: 16 minutes

    Right Ascension: 3 hours, 50 minutes; Declination: +27.0 degrees

    Class: L; Quality: 4

    Plate Events: Marks removed; plate scanned for DASCH (2017-12-20T13-14-14).

    Marked by: This plate was marked by Williamina Paton Fleming.

    Curatorial & Astronomical Notes: This plate was used in Williamina Paton Fleming’s work identifying a variable star in the region of the star Algol in the constellation Taurus, although Algol does not appear on this plate. The plate appears in Fleming’s 1905 notebook on page 72, dated 21 July, in which she notes “Meas. to det. pos. of comp. stars” likely meaning measured to determine position of comparable stars to Algol. The plate’s jacket shows that later measurements were taken by Evelyn Leland, referencing pages 92-94 in book 30.

  • Tracing Luminaries: Plate No. A12855 (Large Magellanic Cloud)

    2022

    Edition of 8

    One of a portfolio of six gilded intaglio prints with chine collé. These prints were editioned from laser engraved cast acrylic plates, inked with transparent base, and then printed onto a starlight-exposed cyanotyped Okuwara collé on Hahnemühle Copperplate. The image was then revealed with 24 karat gold leaf.

    Plate Description:

    Observatory: Harvard Boyden Station, Arequipa, Peru

    Telescope: 24-inch Bruce Doublet

    Date Exposed: 16 November 1923; Exposure: 90 minutes

    Right Ascension: 5 hours, 26 minutes; Declination: -69.0 degrees

    Class: L; Quality: 4

    Plate Events: Marks removed; plate scanned for DASCH (2011-10-06T15-27-28).

    Marked by: This plate appears to have been marked by multiple women, although no initials appear on the plate jacket and thus their identities are not known for certain.

    Curatorial & Astronomical Notes: This plate images an area within the Large Magellanic cloud, which is a satellite galaxy of the Milky Way visible from Earth’s southern hemisphere and is the fourth-largest galaxy in our Local Group. At the time of this printing, the notebooks of the Harvard Computers that date beyond 1918 have not yet been processed by the Smithsonian and Harvard archiving efforts, and thus there is no information about possible inclusion of this plate number in the women’s notebooks and hints into who may have marked the plate. However, it is suspected that the markings on this plate are consistent with galaxy and globular cluster count work, as well as star magnitude measurements, which was a priority in the women’s work between the 1930s and 1940s.

  • Tracing Luminaries: Plate No. B20645 (Small Magellanic Cloud)

    2022

    Edition of 8

    One of a portfolio of six gilded intaglio prints with chine collé. These prints were editioned from laser engraved cast acrylic plates, inked with transparent base, and then printed onto a starlight-exposed cyanotyped Okuwara collé on Hahnemühle Copperplate. The image was then revealed with 24 karat gold leaf.

    Plate Description:

    Observatory: Harvard Boyden Station, Arequipa, Peru

    Telescope: 8-inch Bache Doublet, Voigtlander, reworked by Clark

    Date Exposed: 19 October 1897; Exposure: 133 minutes (?)

    Right Ascension: 0 hours 5 minutes (?); Declination: -74.1 degrees (?)

    Class: L; Quality: 4

    Plate Events: Marks removed, likely around 2009-02-03T14:34:05; Plate not scanned for DASCH; Plate was added to The Williamina Fleming Collection, a collection created to preserve around 600 marked plates, even though the marks from this plate had been removed.

    Marked by: This plate was marked by Henrietta Swan Leavitt and possibly her assistants.

    Curatorial & Astronomical Notes: This plate was used in Henrietta Swan Leavitt’s 1908 groundbreaking paper titled, 1777 Variables in the Magellanic Clouds, which compared Cepheid variable stars, and eventually led to her far-reaching discovery of the period-luminosity relationship. This plate number is noted on pages 9 (13 April), 19 (14 April), 31 (15 April), 37 (17 April), 49 (18 April), 54 (18 April), 67 (19 April), 87 (25 April), 94 (27 April), 108 (28 April), 110 (29 April), 112 (29 April), 117 (10 May), 131 (16 June), 150 (04 October) in Leavitt’s 1905 notebook.

Tracing Luminaries:

Tracing Luminaries is a new print edition—a portfolio of 6 prints housed in a custom handmade folio—made in collaboration with Island Press, which will be released and available in early September. Please join the Studio News mailing list to receive the forthcoming announcement. Once the edition is released, Blumenfeld’s project essay, a curatorial essay, and additional images of the folio and print process will be added here. Stay tuned!

Tracing Luminaries is featured in the August 2022 issue of National Geographic! You can find the article on pages 15-18 in the print magazine, which is available at newsstands everywhere or can be ordered directly from Nat Geo’s website. You can also click here to read the digital version!

 

 


2021, Island Press (Photo: Jake Eshelman)

2021, Island Press (Photo: Jake Eshelman)

2021, Island Press (Photo: Jake Eshelman)

2021, Island Press (Photo: Jake Eshelman)