The Sun and Solar Phenomena

One of a set of 12 hand-tinted astronomical prints with an explanatory card. The publisher is identified on each print as J. Reynolds or James Reynolds of the Strand, London. These cards were first issued by Reynolds in 1846, although he and other publishers continued to produce them throughout the second half of the 19th century. They responded to a perceived market for popular science products and were intended for informal learning within the home. They could be bought in sets or singly and, at a price of 1 shilling, were affordable to middle class audiences.

A number of the cards have tissue paper backings and holes in the card in order to allow the user to hold them up to the light and see the stars, planets or phases of the Moon displayed as light areas against a darker background. Several of the more detailed images were drawn and engraved by John Emslie, who also collaborated with Reynolds on another set of diagrams, "Illustrations of Natural Philosophy". Reynolds’ educational diagrams received a prize medal at the International Exhibition of 1862.

One of a set of 12 hand-tinted astronomical prints with explanatory card. The main image shows the Sun with several sunspots, and smaller images at the top show the relationship of the Sun and Earth during the day and night and at different seasons. Small vignettes at the bottom give artistic renderings of a Transit of Mercury, The Sun at Midnight at the North Cape of Europe and an Annual Eclipse. A bar down the left hand side of the main image shows the comparative size of the planets as seen from the Sun (to Neptune, discovered in 1846), and a bar on the right shows the changing appearance of sunspots on different parts of its disc. Captions to these images and a short introduction provide further information.

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