Spectral lines

1814 Spectral lines

The book of science

Tom Sharp

Joseph von Fraunhofer physics Spectral lines

Spectral lines


Spectral analysis

Joseph von Fraunhofer was an orphan apprentised to a glassmaker. His workhouse collapsed and he was buried in the rubble, but he was rescued by Prince Maximilian Joseph, who subsequently ensured that Joseph was treated better and could continue his education.

Early opticians ground their own lenses; von Fraunhofer constructed his own furnace, invented and made his own glass, designed and built machines for grinding and polishing lenses, and designed his own optical instruments. He designed and built telescopes and microscopes, and he invented the spectroscope.

Like the other glassmakers of his time, he was poisoned by heavy metal vapors and died young.

The absorption lines in the solar spectrum are still named Fraunhafer lines.

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