The name means "dark chamber," and has been used by scientists for celestial photography, drawings, etc.
It was a concept perhaps first discovered by the Chinese in the 5th century B.C. Leonardo da Vinci drew diagrams for a camera obscura in the 15th century but did not claim invention for it. Roger Bacon used one to obtain a safe image of the sun, and eclipses, in the 13th century. There are a few in the U.S.: San Francisco, Central Park (NYC), and Portland (ME), that I know of.