In the footsteps of Ebenezer Porter Mason and his nebulae

In 1839 Ebenezer Porter Mason (1819-1840) produced detailed drawings of the Omega Nebula (M17), the Trifid Nebula (M20) and the eastern part of the Veil Nebula (NGC 6992 and 6995). He used a 12-inch (30cm) reflector that he and his friends had built at Yale College, which at the time was the largest telescope in the USA. The drawings were remarkable for their accuracy and for his adoption of a new technique for delineating gradients in nebulosity using isophotes, or lines of equal brightness. This paper reviews his life and his observations, comparing his results with those of the modern amateur astronomer.

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