The Cyanometer: Measuring the Blueness of the Sky in 1789

cyan

A cyanometer (from cyan and -meter) is an instrument for measuring ‘blueness’, specifically the colour intensity of blue sky.

It is attributed to Horace-Bénédict de Saussure and Alexander von Humboldt. It consists of squares of paper dyed in graduated shades of blue and arranged in a color circle or square that can be held up and compared to the color of the sky.

Horace-Bénédict_de_Saussure

De Saussure is credited with inventing the cyanometer in 1789. De Saussure’s cyanometer had 53 sections, ranging from white to varying shades of blue (dyed with Prussian blue) and then to black, arranged in a circle.

De Saussure concluded, correctly, that the color of the sky was dependent on the amount of suspended particles in the atmosphere.

Image via Colossal.
Portrait via Wikimedia Commons.
Quoted text via Wikipedia.

This entry was posted in Gadgets, History, Science by Heretic. Bookmark the permalink.

About Heretic

I design video games for a living, write fiction, political theory and poetry for personal amusement, and train regularly in Western European 16th century swordwork. On frequent occasion I have been known to hunt for and explore abandoned graveyards, train tunnels and other interesting places wherever I may find them, but there is absolutely no truth to the rumor that I am preparing to set off a zombie apocalypse. Nothing that will stand up in court, at least. I use paranthesis with distressing frequency, have a deep passion for history, anthropology and sociological theory, and really, really, really hate mayonnaise. But I wash my hands after the writing. Promise.

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