Skip to content

Please be aware that some material may contain words, descriptions or illustrations which will not reflect current scientific understanding and may be considered in today's context inaccurate, unethical, offensive or distressing.

Paper, 'On the photographic spectrum of comet (Wells) I,1882' by [William] Huggins

Reference number: PP/2/18

Date: 1882


Huggins writes: 'On the evening of Wednesday, May 31, I obtained a photograph of the spectrum of this comet with an exposure of one hour and a quarter. A spectrum of a Ursæ Majoris was taken through the other half of the slit, on the plate, for comparison. The photograph shows a strong continuous spectrum extending from about F to a little beyond H. In this continuous spectrum I am not able to distinguish the Fraunhofer lines. In this comet therefore, at this time, the original light giving a continuous spectrum must have been much stronger relatively to the sunlight reflected than was the case in the comet of last year. It should be stated that the greater faintness of the present comet made it necessary to use a more open slit, which would cause the Fraunhofer lines to be less distinct; but the lines G, H, and K are to be clearly seen in the star’s spectrum taken under the same conditions.'

Annotations in pencil and ink. Includes a diagram of the spectrum.

Subject: Spectroscopy / Astronomy

Received and read 15 June 1882.

A version of this paper was published in volume 34 of the Proceedings of the Royal Society as 'On the photographic spectrum of comet (Wells) 1,1882'.

Reference number
Earliest possible date
Physical description
Ink and graphite pencil on paper
Page extent
4 pages

Creator name

William Huggins

View page for William Huggins

Use this record


William Huggins, Paper, 'On the photographic spectrum of comet (Wells) I,1882' by [William] Huggins, 1882, PP/2/18, The Royal Society Archives, London,, accessed on 26 February 2024

Link to this record

Embed this record

<iframe src="" title="Paper, 'On the photographic spectrum of comet (Wells) I,1882' by [William] Huggins" allow="fullscreen" frameborder="0" width="100%" height="500px"></iframe>

Related Publications

Related Fellows

Explore the collection

  • Proceedings Papers

    Dates: 1882 - 1894

    The archival collection known as 'Proceedings Papers' is comprised of manuscripts and occasional proofs of scientific papers sent to the Royal Society which were read before meetings of Fellows and printed in full in the Proceedings of the Royal Society.

    View collection