The Bruce Medalists

 

  Photo ©Royal Astronomical Society
Herbert Hall Turner
13 August 1861 1927 Bruce Medalist 20 August 1930

Herbert Hall Turner was born in England and educated at the University of Cambridge. After serving as chief assistant at the Royal Greenwich Observatory for nine years, he spent most of his career as Savilian professor of astronomy at the University of Oxford. One of the leaders in the worldwide effort to produce an astrographic chart of the sky, he developed improved methods for obtaining both positions and magnitudes from photographic plates. He was adept at training unskilled workers to take part in this enormous project. He also edited several volumes of measurements of variable stars and took part in seven eclipse expeditions. Most of his later work was in seismology; he compiled and published worldwide earthquake data starting in 1918, and he discovered the existence of deep-focus earthquakes in 1922. Long eager to promote science to the public, he wrote a number of books and some 400 columns in Observatory called “Oxford Notebooks.” He held high office in several astronomical and seismological organizations. Turner is generally credited with coining the term parsec, and it was he who forwarded to its Lowell Observatory discoverers the suggestion of an eleven-year-old Oxford resident that what was then considered the ninth planet be named Pluto.

Presentation of Bruce medal
Benfield, Bernard, PASP 39, 2-8 (1927).

Some offices held
Royal Astronomical Society, President, 1903-05.

Biographical materials
S[ampson, R[alph] A[llen], Proceedings of the Royal Society A, 133, i-ix (1931).
Bullen, K.E., Dictionary of Scientific Biography 13, 500-01.
Tenn, Joseph S., “Herbert Hall Turner: The Twenty-Second Bruce Medalist,” Mercury  23, 1, 27 (1994).

Obituaries
Aitken, R.G., PASP 42, 277-80 (1930).
Cannon, Annie J., Popular Astronomy 39, 59-66 (1931).
London Times, 1930, reprinted in JRASC 24, 402-05 (1930).
Dyson, F.W., Nature 126, 318-19 (1930).
Fotheringham, J.K., The Oxford Magazine, Oct. 16, 1930, pp. 1-4.
H[ollis], H.P., Observatory 53, 290-96 (1930).
P[lummer], H.C., MNRAS 91, 321-34 (1931).

Photos
Caltech Archives (with wife and G.E. Hale. Search for "Hale +Turners")
International Seismological Centre (with John Milne)

Named after him
Lunar crater Turner
Minor Planet #1186 Turnera

More references

The Bruce Medalists


Please send comments, additions, corrections, and questions to
joe.tenn@sonoma.edu
JST
2016-01-31