The Bruce Medalists
||Photo c. 1955, courtesy Yerkes Observatory
|William Wilson Morgan
|3 January 1906
||1958 Bruce Medalist
||21 June 1994
After three years of undergraduate study at Washington and Lee University Bill Morgan joined the staff of the Yerkes Observatory, where he spent his entire career, including three years as director. While at Yerkes he earned bachelor’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Chicago, the latter under Otto Struve. Eschewing theory, he devoted his research to morphology, the classification of objects by their form and structure. He, Philip Keenan, and Edith Kellman introduced stellar luminosity classes and the two-dimensional classification of stellar spectra strictly on the basis of the spectra themselves (the MK system). With Donald E. Osterbrock and Stewart Sharpless he demonstrated the existence of spiral arms in the Galaxy using precise distances of O and B stars obtained from spectral classifications. Morgan invented the UBV system of magnitudes and colors, and, with Nicholas U. Mayall, developed a spectral classification system for giant galaxies. He served as editor of the Astrophysical Journal from 1947 to 1952.
Presentation of Bruce medal
McKellar, Andrew, PASP 70, 129-32 (1958).
American Astronomical Society, Henry Norris Russell Lectureship, 1961.
National Academy of Sciences, Henry Draper Medal, 1980.
Royal Astronomical Society, Herschel Medal, 1983, presented by M.J. Rycroft, Observatory 103, 225-26 (1983).
Morgan, W.W., “A Morphological Life,” Ann. Rev. Astr. & Astrophys. 26, 1-9 (1988).
Osterbrock, Donald E., Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences 72, 288-313 (1997) [html or pdf].
Garrison, Robert F., PASP 107, 507-12 (1995).
McNally, D., QJRAS 36, 175-77 (1995).
Osterbrock, Donald E., Physics Today 47, 12, 82 (1994).
Wilford, John Noble, The New York Times, 24 June 1994, v143, pB13(N) pA25(L), col 1.
Named after him
Minor planet #3180 Morgan
The Bruce Medalists