History of Astronomy : Acta Historica Astronomiae : Vol. 9

Photography and labour history of astrometry: The Carte du Ciel

Charlotte Bigg, Cambridge, UK


The Carte du Ciel, launched in 1887 by Paris Observatory director E. Mouchez, was a significant impetus to the institutionalisation of photographic astrometry internationally. The adoption of mechanical means of representation, meant to increase speed and precision in the recording of data, brought with it unsuspected social and material changes, however. Great numbers of unskilled workers, mostly women, were recruited to treat the growing amounts of information supplied by the plates; while the mechanisation of work led to an ever greater standardisation of practices, thus giving the new astrometry a distinctly 'industrial' flavour.

Bibliographical details:

Charlotte Bigg: Photography and labour history of astrometry: The Carte du Ciel. In: Klaus Hentschel, Axel D. Wittmann (Eds.): The Role of Visual Representations in Astronomy: History and Research Practice (Acta Historica Astronomiae ; 9). Thun ; Frankfurt am Main : Deutsch, 2000, p. 90-106.

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