Catchers of the Light Books


"This book is truly a magnum opus, a labour of love, and a great work of scholarship. It is authoritative, detailed, thorough, superbly illustrated, well referenced, and all-encompassing. There is no nook or cranny of the history of astronomical photography or its proponents that has not been investigated, noted, and embellished with a relevant image. It is worth every single cent of its price. It is an essential addition to every astronomy library. Anyone with even a vague interest in the development of astrophysics will need to have this book to hand; it is a vital and reliable starting place for any historical research into the last two centuries of astronomical endeavour." Professor David W. Hughes, 'Observatory' magazine, February 2015. Read Full Review Here:

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Imaging the diverse bodies to found in our Solar System, its planets, asteroids, comets, natural satellites and meteors proved to be a difficult challenge for the pioneers of Astrophotography.
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IV.2 William Usherwood
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IV.2 William Usherwood
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William Usherwood (1821-1915), a commercial photographer from Walton-on-the-Hill, Surrey, England, took the first ever photograph of a comet when he captured Donati’s comet from nearby Walton Heath, Surrey on the 27th September 1858, beating George Phillips Bond from Harvard Observatory by a night! Unfortunately, the photograph taken by Usherwood has been lost.


Document profile:

Number of Pages: 24

Number of Snippet Panels: 12

Number of Photographs/Illustrations: 27

Number of Notes/References: 44



The author is indebted to the following people without whom the research on William Usherwood could not have been done:


Jay M. Pasachoff, Roberta J. M. Olson and the late Martha L. Hazen for their pioneering work on discovering the true circumstances regarding William Usherwood and George Bond’s attempts to photograph Donati’s Comet;


Peter Franklin (2x Great Grandson) and his mother Patricia Franklin (Great Grand Daughter), descendents of William Usherwood; for providing me with a great deal information, photographs and documents relating to his life and work. Unfortunately they were not able to provide me with a copy of William Usherwood’s photograph of Donati’s comet, or even the original. If anybody knows about the whereabouts of these images, then they will have in their possession one of the most historically important photographs ever taken;


Thanks also to:,, the Harvard College Observatory, the London Metropolitan Archives, MAPCO, the Ordnance Survey, for the use of the following items: text extracts from original sources, genealogical information, photographs, maps, drawings and illustrations included in this eBook.


IV.2 William Usherwood
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The 'Catchers of the Light' eBooks on the History of Astrophotography can NOW be read on Windows PCs & Androids, Apple Macs and iPads. 

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William Usherwood, was a miniature artist and 'wedding & baby' photographer who much to the annoyance of the astronomical community, became the first person to successfully image a Comet.

Dr. Stefan Hughes began his career as a professional astronomer, gaining a 1st Class Honours degree in Astronomy from the University of Leicester in 1974 and his PhD four years later on the 'Resonance Orbits of Artificial Satellites due to Lunisolar Perturbations', which was published as a series of papers in the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London. After graduating he became a Research fellow in Astronomy, followed by a spell as a lecturer in Applied Mathematics at Queen Mary College, London. Then came a ten year long career as an IT Consultant. In 'mid life' he spent several years retraining as a Genealogist, Record Agent and Architectural Historian, which he practiced for a number of years before moving to the Mediterranean island of Cyprus, where for the past ten years he has been imaging the heavens, as well as researching and writing the 'Catchers of the Light' - A History of Astrophotography.

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