The Bruce Medalists
||Photo 1896, courtesy Mary Lea Shane Archives, Lick Observatory|
|Frederick Hanley Seares|
|17 May 1873
||1940 Bruce Medalist
||20 July 1964
Frederick Seares was born in Michigan and raised in Iowa and southern California. He earned his B.S. at the University of California, after which he continued his studies in Paris and Berlin. He taught and investigated comets and variable stars for eight years at the University of Missouri, where Harlow Shapley was his student. In 1909 he joined the staff of George E. Hale’s Mt. Wilson Observatory, where he remained for 36 years, fifteen of them as assistant director. He photographed stars in “selected areas” as part of Jacobus C. Kapteyn’s worldwide effort to determine the structure of the sidereal universe. Using photography Seares standardized the stellar magnitude system and extended it beyond the 18th magnitude. He used absorbing wire gauze screens and reduced apertures to compare stars of vastly different brightness. He was a pioneer in measuring and interpreting color indices of stars. He also published extensively on the brightness of the Milky Way compared to that of external galaxies and investigated interstellar absorption and reddening of starlight. For many years he supervised the Mt. Wilson computers (human, usually female) and edited the publications of the Mt. Wilson Observatory.
Presentation of Bruce medal
Joy, Alfred H., PASP 52, 69-79 (1940).
Some offices held
Astronomical Society of the Pacific, President, 1929.
Dieke, Sally H., Dictionary of Scientific Biography 12, 264-66.
Huntington Library, Biographical Note accompanying papers
Joy, Alfred H., Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Science 39, 417-44
PASP 76, 366-67 (1964).
Redman, R.O., QJRAS 7, 75-79 (1966).
Sky & Telescope 28, 3, 123 (1964).
AIP Center for History of Physics
La Web de la Asociación Larense de Astronomía (painting)
Caltech Archives (with W. Mayer, R.C. Tolman, Einsteins)
Named after him
Lunar crater Seares
Minor Planet #11766 Fredseares