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Paul Henry (French, 1848–1905) / Prosper Henry (French, 1849–1903)
Nebuleuse de la Lyre
Albumen silver print, from glass negative
22.8 x 16.4 cm (9 x 6 7/16 ins)
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Gift of Arnold H. Crane, by exchange, and Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1993, Accession Number: 1993.219
Curatorial description (Accessed: 9 January 2018)
Astronomers at the Paris Observatory, brothers Paul and Prosper Henry inherited in 1872 a project begun twenty years earlier--the mapping of the heavens by means of painstaking observation, calculation, and notation. When their survey approached the Milky Way, the brothers found that the galaxy proved too dense and complex to chart by eye. They solved the problem by constructing a photographic telescope with an extraordinarily precise mechanism for tracking the stars across the night sky during exposures as long as one hour.
This photograph of the Ring Nebula in the constellation Lyra shows but a three-degree section of the firmament, 1,956 light-years from earth. Once a star similar to our own sun, the nebula was formed when the star exploded, releasing gasses from its outer shell into space.