A 19th-century French-born artist Etienne Leopold Trouvelot had a job at Harvard College’s observatory, and he created sketches of astronomical observations. Although Trouvelot himself is less well-known for his astronomical art, he had mesmerizing, stunningly accurate astronomical drawings.
Today, Trouvelot’s arts are digitized and made available by the New York Public Library. Also, a crater on Mars bears his name.
We have curated Trouvelot’s drawings for you and added NASA’s photos to compare them.
With NASA’s Mars Expedition Rovers, we have more detailed images of Mars than ever before. Still, you can see how Trouvelot included similar shading, and the spots in his drawing resemble those around the left edge of NASA’s photo.
Check out that Great Red Spot and the bands on Jupiter’s surface! NASA’s Juno recently reached Jupiter and sent back a less clear image, as well, but we can look forward to much more detail soon as Juno circles Jupiter 37 times at varying altitudes to photograph its surface.
This image of Jupiter and its moons Io and Ganymede was acquired by amateur astronomer Damian Peach on Sept. 12, 2010, when Jupiter was close to opposition. South is up and the “Great Red Spot” is visible in the image.
No telescope required for this one. Anyone who has stepped outside to check out a Lunar Eclipse can verify the accuracy—it even shows the very slight illumination of the moon’s eclipsed surface.
The enhanced spectrum of NASA’s photo wasn’t available in Trouvelot’s time, but you can spot the same curvature of the nebula (though it’s the reverse of the NASA image) and the denser center.
The Great Globular Cluster in Hercules, one of the brightest globular star clusters in the northern sky. Telescopic views reveal the spectacular cluster’s hundreds of thousands of stars.
There’s nothing quite like looking up at the Milky Way on a clear night to make you feel incredibly small. In Trouvelot’s drawing you can spot a bit of sea and a ship at the bottom—perhaps he was contemplating his own insignificance by the sea when he did this study.
NASA astronaut Reid Wiseman captured this image from the International Space Station and posted it to social media on Sept. 28, 2014, writing, “The Milky Way steals the show from Sahara sands that make the Earth glow orange.”
Try not to sing “Total Eclipse of the Heart”. I personally enjoy Trouvelot’s added artistic flair (or flare, if you want to be punny) on this one.
The Hinode satellite observing our sun captured images of the moon traversing the face of the sun during a solar eclipse this week. On Wednesday, July 22, 2009, a total eclipse of the Sun was visible from within a narrow corridor that traverses half of Earth.
Our ability to get detailed imagery of the Sun has dramatically improved, but zoom in on NASA’s image and you’ll see Trouvelot actually created a spectacular representation of sun spots.
This image from NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory on March 16, 2015, shows two dark spots, called coronal holes. The lower coronal hole was one of the biggest observed in decades.