The 'Catchers of the Light' is very different from any other book you will have read. Although it is about a technically difficult subject, it is not written in the style of a dull and dreary textbook, but presented as a family history that will have an appeal to a wide audience., Yet it is not a work of hearsay and anecdotes, but tells the true stories of the lives of a band of ordinary people who did extraordinary things; based on information obtained from original records and contemporary accounts of the people who knew them.
In its pages is presented a vast amount of new and unpublished material, even on the more well known of the pioneers featured in the book. It does not rely on internet biographies or blogs, but goes to the primary records for its sources. In the case of several of the pioneers, the basic 'hatch, match and dispatch' information has been found to be incorrect.
For example, every other biography of the pioneer photographer, Frederick Scott Archer states that he was born in 1813 at Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire, the son of a butcher. In actuality he was neither born in 1813 or at Bishops Stortford. Even his father was not an ordinary butcher, but more of a leading local citizen.
The same basic biographical errors have been found in several other pioneeride additions, including Richard Leach Maddox, William Parsons and Isaac Roberts. By consulting thousands of similar records a truly accurate and proveable picture of the lives of these pioneers has in many cases, been written for the first time.
The book also makes use of 'Snippets'. These are boxes of text which provide additional information to that contained in the main text, or which describe a particular photograph, or give further explanation on a particular subject relevent to the Chapter.By reading just the 'Snippets' only, an alternative version of the Chapter is provided, which is independent of the main text. The reader therefore gets two books for the price of one!
Catchers of the Light is divided into nine Parts (I-IX), each covering a specific aspect of the subject:
- I: Origins of Astrophotography;
- II: Lunar Astrophotography;
- III: Solar Astrophotography;
- IV: Solar System Astrophography;
- V: Deep Space Astrophotography;
- VI: Photographic Astronomical Spectroscopy;
- VII: Photographic Sky Surveys;
- VIII: Astrographs;
- IX: Modern Digital Age
In the nine parts are contained fully researched and referenced biographies of 46 pioneers of Astrophotography, told as a story of their life and work, rather than as a turgid treatise.
The following men and women are to be found in the pages of the book; who are the 'Catchers of the Light':
- Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre (1787-1851);
- Joseph Nicephore Niepce (1765-1833);
- Frederick Scott Archer (1814-1857);
- Richard Leach Maddox (1816-1902);
- John William Draper (1811-1882);
- Maurice Loewy (1833-1907),
- Pierre Henri Puiseux (1855-1928) ;
- William Henry Pickering (1858-1938);
- Armand Hippolyte Leon Fizeau (1819-1896);
- Jean Bernard Leon Foucault (1819-1868);
- Warren De La Rue (1815-1889);
- Pierre Jules Cesar Janssen (1824-1907);
- John Adams Whipple (1822-1891);
- William Usherwood (1821-1915);
- Pierre Paul Henry (1848-1905);
- Mathieu Prosper Henry (1849-1903);
- Maximillian Franz Joseph Cornelius Wolf (1863-1932);
- William Cranch Bond (1789-1859);
- George Phillips Bond (1825 -1865);
- Benjamin Apthorp Gould (1824-1896);
- Henry Draper (1837-1882);
- Isaac Roberts (1829-1904);
- William Edward Wilson (1851-1908);
- James Edward Keeler (1857-1900);
- Edward Emerson Barnard (1857-1923);
- Williamina Paton Strevens Fleming (1857-1911);
- Lewis Morris Rutherfurd (1816-1892);
- Father Pietro Angelo Secchi (1818-1878);
- William Huggins (1824-1910);
- Margaret Lindsay Murray (1848-1915);
- Edward Charles Pickering (1846 - 1919);
- Hermann Vogel (1841-1907);
- Wilhelm Oswald Lohse (1845-1915);
- Julius Scheiner (1858-1913);
- Edwin Powell Hubble (1889-1953);
- Milton Lasell Humason (1891-1972);
- Amedee Ernest Barthelemy Mouchez (1821-1892);
- David Gill (1843-1914);
- William Parsons (1800-1867);
- Andrew Ainslie Common (1841-1903);
- George Willis Ritchey (1864 1945);
- Henri Chretien (1879-1956);
- Bernhard Voldemar Schmidt (1879-1935); .
- Eugen von Gothard (1857-1909);
- Alfred Rordame (1862-1931);
- Marcel De Kerolyr (1873-1969).
In addition to the biographies, the book also contains nine summary chapters, one on each of the nine aspects of the Astrophotography.
The following eight Appendices are included:
- Appendix A: Astrophotography Timeline
- Appendix B: 109 Important Astronomical Photographs;
- Appendix C: The Chemistry of Photographic Processes;
- Appendix D: Telescope Optical Systems;
- Appendix E: Charge Coupled Devices (CCDs);
- Appendix F: Useful Formulae;
- Appendix G: Glossary of Terms;
- Appendix H: The Astrophotographers’ Family Pedigrees.
Number of Pages: 1556
Number of Snippet Panels: 1064
Number of Photographs/Illustrations: 1843
Number of Notes/References: 2170