Lunar crater model by James Nasmyth, 1850-1871.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This plaster model shows the relief of the Moon's surface centred on the crater Archimedes and the Apennine lunar mountains and was made by James Nasmyth (1808-1890), a successful industrialist and engineer and keen astronomer. Nasmyth used a powerful 20 inch reflecting telescope to observe the moon's surface and make drawings, calculating the height of the lunar features by the length of their shadows. These were then reconstructed in plaster and lit carefully to clarify the various features. The resulting photographs produced better results than could be achieved at the time by direct lunar photography. Nasmyth went on to photograph a whole series of his lunar models. They were used to illustrate the book, 'The Moon', that Nasmyth published with James Carpenter in 1871.