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The Art of JAMA
September 15, 2015

Falling Stars as Seen From the Balloon: Albert Tissandier

JAMA. 2015;314(11):1100-1101. doi:10.1001/jama.2014.11979

Travels in the Air is a 19th-century narrative of balloon ascents by meteorologist James Glaisher (1809-1903), astronomer Camille Flammarion, science journalist Wilfrid de Fonvielle, and chemist Gaston Tissandier. Falling Stars as Seen From the Balloon, by Albert Tissandier (1839-1906), is a chromolithograph from Travels in the Air that illustrates de Fonvielle’s balloon flight of November 14-15, 1867, to view the Leonid meteor shower. In this romantically shaded image, the trajectories of several meteors are superimposed in the night sky. In 1867 an observer would have had to look directly into the moonlight to see the Leonids, but hundreds of meteors were visible despite the glare.