The "first" of everything is very special and same is the case with the first image ever taken of our Sun. When was it taken? Where was it taken? Who took it? How was it taken? Questions like these always fascinate us and are the sole motivation behind this article.
Everything evolves with time and when it comes to space science, the field of astrophotography is one of those fields which has evolved the most. Today, we have several advanced photography techniques to capture the celestial bodies, but, this wasn't the scenario 174 years ago when our Sun was captured for the first time. The process used for this purpose was "Daguerreotype", which was really the first ever known photography technique. In this technique, a metal plate was treated with chemicals that made it light-sensitive.Later, that plate was exposed to a scene and was then treated with different chemicals to stop the exposure.
Armand Hippolyte Fizeau and Jean Bernhard Leon Foucault were two of the greatest physicists of the nineteenth century who successfully obtained the first image of Sun using this technique on April 2, 1845 at at the Royal Observatory in Königsberg, Prussia (now Kalinigrad in Russia). Apart from their photographic achievements,Fizeau and Foucault are also known for the development of terrestrial methods for a more accurate determination of the speed of light,which paved the way for many advances in all branches of science.
The 5 inch vintage photo of the Sun, taken by Fizeau and Foucault, showed many details including the star’s relatively sharp edges along with a handful of sunspots. According to the then Director of the Paris Observatory, Francois Jean Dominique Arago,"the two Physicists took a series of Daguerreotype images of the Sun during that period, which were the first to successfully capture the face of our star. However, only one of these images has survived, dated the 2nd of April 1845, showing clearly the presence of sunspots on its surface, and as such is one of the most important astronomical photographs ever taken".
No doubt, today we have many other high resolution and refined images of sun taken with advanced lenses , but this first image of Sun, taken by Fizeau and Foucault, 174 years ago will always have it's own importance in the history of astrophotography !