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Common, Andrew Ainslie

Born Newcastle upon Tyne, England, 7 August 1841

Died Ealing, (London), England, 2 June 1903

Andrew Common demonstrated the value of using large reflecting telescopes to photograph celestial objects. Through his improved techniques for guiding telescopes, which made possible comparatively long exposures, Common proved that photography could record substantially greater detail than could be seen with the naked eye.

Common's father, Thomas Common, a distinguished surgeon of the North country who was renowned for his treatment of cataract, died during Andrew's infancy, and economic misfortunes beset the family. During those years of hardship, when Common was about 10, his mother borrowed a telescope for him from Dr. Bates of Morpeth. Although Common showed great interest in the instrument, he had no real opportunity to exercise his astronomical inclinations for many years thereafter and, instead, struck out on his own at a very young age to seek training and