Magic Lantern Astronomy Slides

I went to see a friend over the weekend who is a prominent figure in the Magic Lantern Society.

Lantern lectures were one of the most prominent and popular forms of entertainment in the nineteenth century. They were presented in a range of venues including schools, churches, Mechanics’ Institutes and by itinerant lecturers, as well as occurring privately in domestic settings. Popular lectures on scientific subjects such as astronomy were a common theme for such performances and were specially associated with the philosophy of ‘rational recreation’ whereby people, especially the working classes, were encouraged to partake in improving pursuits in their spare time.

He had recently purchased some astronomical slides and wondered if I’d be interested in taking a look and photographing them before they got split up and sold on…

I took the opportunity and spent a wet Saturday, December afternoon going through them…

Now, I’m spending even more time trying to work out what they all are and giving them references, so that I can make a future RAG presentation. I’d like to try and do that in the style of a Magic Lantern Show (via PowerPoint!)¬†Perhaps later in the year, after the summer break…

Something very different for us but a rare chance to see some astronomy history.

For now,¬†here is a beautiful representation of the moon….



All hand painted onto glass and set into wooden frames. Dating from the mid 1800s.


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