The Bruce Medalists

 

  Photo courtesy Yerkes Observatory, University of Chicago
Henry Norris Russell
25 October 1877 1925 Bruce Medalist 18 February 1957

Henry Norris Russell spent six decades at Princeton University — as student, professor, observatory director, and active professor emeritus. From 1921 on he also made lengthy annual visits to the Mt. Wilson Observatory. He measured parallaxes in Cambridge, England, with A.R. Hinks and found a correlation between spectral types and absolute magnitudes of stars — the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram. He popularized the distinction between giant stars and “dwarfs” while developing an early theory of stellar evolution. With his student, Harlow Shapley, he analyzed light from eclipsing binary stars to determine stellar masses. Later he and his assistant, Charlotte E. Moore Sitterly, determined masses of thousands of binary stars using statistical methods. With Walter S. Adams Russell applied Meghnad Saha’s theory of ionization to stellar atmospheres and determined elemental abundances, confirming Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin’s discovery that the stars are composed mostly of hydrogen. Russell applied the Bohr theory of the atom to atomic spectra and with Harvard physicist F.A. Saunders made an important contribution to atomic physics, Russell-Saunders coupling (also known as LS coupling). Russell and his Princeton colleagues, R.S. Dugan and J.Q. Stewart, wrote what was for decades the most important astronomy textbook in the United States. Called the “Dean of American astronomers,” Russell was a dominant force in the community as a teacher, writer, and advisor.

Presentation of Bruce medal
Black, A.L., PASP 37, 2-6 (1925).

Other awards
Académie des Sciences, Lalande Prize, 1922.
American Academy of Arts & Sciences, Rumford prize, 1925.
American Astronomical Society, Henry Norris Russell Lectureship, 1946.
Franklin Institute, Ben Franklin medal, 1934.
National Academy of Sciences, Henry Draper Medal, 1922.
Royal Astronomical Society, Gold medal, 1921, presented by A. Fowler, MNRAS 81, 334-50 (1921).

Some offices held
American Association for the Advancement of Science, President, 1933.
American Astronomical Society, President, 1934-37.

Biographical materials
Chapman, D.M.F., “Reflections: Henry Norris Russell,” JRASC 96, 191 (2002).
Cogan, Bruce C., Dictionary of Scientific Biography 12, 17-24.
DeVorkin, David, “Henry Norris Russell,” Sci. Amer. 260, 5, 126 (1989).
DeVorkin, David H., Henry Norris Russell: Dean of American Astronomers (Princeton Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ, 2000) [Excerpt].
Leitch, Alexander, “Henry Norris Russell,” in A Princeton Companion (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 1978).
Russell, Henry Norris, in Thirteen Americans: Their Spritual Autobiographies, ed. by Louis Finkelstein (Kennikat Press, Port Washington, NY, 1953), 31-45.
Shapley, H., Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Science 32, 354-78.
Stratton, F.J.M., Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 3, 173-191 (1957).
Tenn, Joseph S., “Henry Norris Russell: The Twentieth Bruce Medalist,” Mercury 22, 5, 19 (1993).

Obituaries
Joy, Alfred H., Griffith Observer 21, 8, ? (Aug. 1957).
Menzel, Donald, Yearbook, American Philosophical Society, 1958. 139-143.
Moore, Charlotte E., Observatory 77, 67-68 (1957).
Öpik, E., Irish Astronomical Journal 4, 192 (1957).
Spitzer, Lyman, Jr., Science 125, 1133-34 (1957).
Stewart, John Q., MNRAS 118, 311-12 (1958).
Struve, Otto, PASP 69, 223-226 (1957).

Portraits
AIP Center for History of Physics [several]
Princeton University: Astrophysics Faculty in 1949

Named after him
Lunar crater Russell
Martian crater Russell
Minor Planet #1762 Russell
American Astronomical Society, Henry Norris Russell Lectureship
Hertzsprung-Russell Diagram (with Ejnar Hertzsprung)
Vogt-Russell (or Russell-Vogt) Theorem (with Heinrich Vogt)

More references

The Bruce Medalists


Please send comments, additions, corrections, and questions to
joe.tenn@sonoma.edu
JST
2015-11-11