The lunar crater 'Plato', 1844.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Pastel sketch in crayon by James Nasmyth (1808-1890. Working directly from the eyepiece of his 20-inch reflecting telescope, he used his considerable artistic skill to produce this portrayal of the lunar surface. A succesful industrialist and engineer, Nasmyth made extensive observations of the Moon. Using his drawings he calculated the height of the lunar features by measuring the length of their shadows. He then made relief models that were photographed to produce results better than could be then achieved using direct lunar photography. Nasmyth photographed a series of these models, which were used to illustrate the book, 'The Moon' that he co-published with James Carpenter in 1871. Plato is a crater approximately 95 kilometres in diameter which is located near to the lunar north pole.