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THE ASTRONOMICAL SOCIETY OF THE PACIFIC
“109th ANNUAL MEETING”
Chicago, 1997

HISTORY SESSIONS
Presented by the ASP History Committee

History I: The Yerkes Observatory Centennial
Sunday, 29 June, Regency C,
Hyatt Regency Hotel

INVITED LECTURES

9:00 DEARBORN: THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO’S FIRST OBSERVATORY
Thomas R. Williams, Rice University

When the Dearborn Observatory of the old University of Chicago was placed in service in April 1866, it was equipped with what was arguably the finest telescope in the world. But the observatory failed to emerge in its early years as a leading astronomical institution. We will discuss the Dearborn Observatory’s origins, its accomplishments, and the factors that contributed to this failure to live up to expectations, and we will describe the struggle to preserve the observatory in the face of the university’s financial collapse.

Tom Williams’ interest in the history of astronomy developed out of his life-long avocation as an amateur astronomer. He elected to pursue the history of astronomy in retirement, and he is now a graduate student in history at Rice University. His other astronomical interests have included variable stars and comets. He served as president of the American Association of Variable Star Observers from 1985 to 1987 and again in 1993.

9:45 YERKES OBSERVATORY 1892-1950: THE BIRTH, NEAR DEATH,
AND RESURRECTION OF A SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH INSTITUTION

Donald E. Osterbrock, Lick Observatory, University of California, Santa Cruz

Yerkes Observatory, financed by robber baron Charles T. Yerkes, and built around “the largest and best ... telescope in the world,” the 40-inch refractor, underwent changing fortunes under its first three directors. George Ellery Hale founded it as a centerpiece of the new science of astrophysics, but then left to start Mount Wilson Observatory; Edwin B. Frost allowed Yerkes to decline slowly for twenty-eight years; Otto Struve revitalized it as an astrophysical research center and then departed for Berkeley in 1950.

Donald E. Osterbrock is a research astronomer and former director of Lick Observatory, a Bruce medalist of the ASP, and a historian of American astronomy in the big-telescope era. He has written on Lick, Mount Wilson, and Palomar Observatories, and his latest book, Yerkes Observatory 1892 - 1950: The Birth, Near Death, and Resurrection of a Scientific Research Institution, was just published by the University of Chicago Press in honor of the Yerkes centennial.

10:30 Break

11:00 THE MAGNIFICENT HISTORIC INSTRUMENTS OF YERKES OBSERVATORY
John W. Briggs, Yerkes Observatory, University of Chicago

Yerkes Observatory of the University of Chicago is home to the largest refracting telescope in the world. The story of this telescope and the people who built it remains a captivating tale to this day. We will share highlights of the history of the Great Refractor, illustrated with many delightful--and some disastrous--historical slides. We will also share insight on other famous instruments associated with Yerkes, including the Kenwood 12-inch, the Bruce astrograph, and the Snow horizontal solar telescope, as well as the venerable astronomers who used them.

John W. Briggs has been observatory engineer at the University of Chicago’s Yerkes Observatory since 1990. In 1994, he served as a winter-over scientist at Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station for the Center for Astrophysical Research in Antarctica, which is headquartered at Yerkes, and presently he is deployed at Apache Point Observatory in New Mexico, assisting with the start-up of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey. John’s favorite hobby is the history of telescopes. He is an enthusiastic member of the Antique Telescope Society, and his collection includes items from small eyepieces to huge equatorials.

11:45 "IT IS COLD AND DISAGREEABLE HERE":
E.E. BARNARD’S WORK AT YERKES OBSERVATORY

William Sheehan

After growing up desperately poor in Nashville, Tennessee, Edward Emerson Barnard won early recognition as an indefatigable observer and discoverer of comets. He joined the original staff of the Lick Observatory and in 1892 achieved international fame for his discovery of the fifth satellite of Jupiter. Barnard was lured away from Lick to Yerkes by George Ellery Hale and S.W. Burnham--and the chance to use the great 40-inch refractor. Barnard remained an “observaholic” to the end of his life, despite the generally poorer observing conditions and desperately cold winters at Yerkes. At a time when Hale and others were doing pioneering work in astrophysics, he belonged to an older school. He took numerous photographs of comets and the Milky Way and carried out many measures of the stars in globular clusters. Though he did not achieve quite the sensational results at Yerkes he had earlier in his career, this “man who was never known to sleep” greatly inspired others by his phenomenal dedication to his work.

William Sheehan’s critically acclaimed book, The Immortal Fire Within: The Life and Work of Edward Emerson Barnard, was published by Cambridge University Press in 1995. He is also the author of Planets and Perception, Worlds in the Sky, The Planet Mars, and In Search of the Planet Vulcan.

12:30 Break

2:00 THE EDUCATION OF EDWIN HUBBLE: CHICAGO, OXFORD AND YERKES
Gale E. Christianson, Indiana State University

Deferring to his father’s wishes, Edwin P. Hubble entered the University of Chicago in 1906, with the goal of becoming a lawyer instead of pursuing the astronomy of his dreams. As a Rhodes scholar, he spent three years at Oxford mastering the intricacies of English jurisprudence and Spanish literature. Only after his father’s death, in 1913, was he free to enter the Ph.D. program in astronomy at the University of Chicago, and he spent much of the next three years at Yerkes Observatory. We will see how Hubble’s educational trajectory produced both an accomplished man of letters and the most distinguished astronomer of the twentieth century.

Gale E. Christianson is Distinguished Professor of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of history at Indiana State University, where he teaches courses in biography, the history of science, and historiography. His six books include biographies of Isaac Newton and Loren Eiseley and Edwin Hubble: Mariner of the Nebulae.

2:45 W.W. MORGAN: PATTERNS IN THE UNIVERSE
Robert F. Garrison, David Dunlap Observatory, University of Toronto

William Wilson Morgan strongly influenced the direction of astronomical research during the middle half of the 20th century. He lived and worked at Yerkes Observatory from 1926 until his death in 1994. By separating the “thing itself” from its calibration, he laid the philosophical groundwork for developing his systems of classification. As a result of their purity, they are still in use today. The MK System of spectral classification, the UBV system of photometric classification, and the Yerkes system of galaxy classification are all part of the legacy of his grand vision of patterns in the universe.

Robert F. Garrison is professor of astronomy and associate director of the David Dunlap Observatory of the University of Toronto and director of its southern observatory in Chile. A student of W.W. Morgan, he is a leader in the field of Morgan-Keenan spectral classification and author of a book on the subject.

3:30 S. CHANDRASEKHAR AND THEORETICAL ASTROPHYSICS AT YERKES OBSERVATORY
Roy H. Garstang, JILA, University of Colorado, and National Institute of Standards and Technology

Chandra worked on problems in theoretical astrophysics at Yerkes Observatory from 1937 to 1964. We review some of the work he did during that time. His first major work was writing his book on stellar structure. This was followed by investigations on stellar dynamics, various statistical investigations, the study of the importance of the negative hydrogen ion causing absorption in stellar atmospheres, and the theory and applications of radiative transfer. We stress his method of working and the enormous labor which his investigations involved.

Roy Garstang was educated in mathematics at Cambridge University and spent many hours discussing both astronomy and Cambridge with Chandra at Yerkes Observatory in 1951-52. A professor of physics and astrophysics at the University of Colorado from 1964-94, he has worked on atomic spectroscopy, solar spectroscopy, atoms in high magnetic fields, light pollution modeling, and sundial errors.

 

HISTORY II: General History of Astronomy
Monday, 30 June, Adler Planetarium

INVITED LECTURES

9:00 THE HISTORY OF ASTRONOMY COLLECTIONS AT THE ADLER
Bruce Stephenson, Adler Planetarium and Astronomy Museum

When Max Adler founded the first planetarium in the western hemisphere in 1930, he also purchased and donated to it a major European collection of scientific instruments. From this core the Adler’s collection of historic astronomical instruments has grown into one of the largest in the world. Particularly strong in astrolabes, armillary spheres, and sundials, the collection also includes important old telescopes, navigational instruments, surveying and drawing instruments, and a number of important orreries. The Adler’s rare book collection emphasizes books from 1450-1850 about astronomy, scientific instruments, and related subjects.

Bruce Stephenson, a historian of astronomy, is director of the Adler’s history of astronomy department and curator of the Adler’s collections. He has published two books on Johannes Kepler, and he is a visiting scholar in the University of Chicago’s Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

9:45 ECLIPSE EXPEDITIONS TO REMOTE PLACES
Katherine Bracher, Whitman College

Though total eclipses of the sun frequently occur in difficult places for scientists hoping to observe them, astronomers have gone to considerable lengths to be in the right spot for the brief moments of totality. Such expeditions have included trips to the coast of Labrador and northwestern Canada in 1860, to the top of Pike’s Peak in 1878, to remote coral atolls in the South Pacific (1883, 1930, 1937), and to the Aleutian Islands (1948).

Katherine Bracher has been professor of astronomy at Whitman College for thirty years. Since 1983 she has been a member of the ASP’s history committee and responsible for the column “Echoes of the Past” in Mercury. She is also a past chair of the American Astronomical Society’s Historical Astronomy Division. Her interests include eclipses, archaeoastronomy, and the astronomical knowledge of the ancient Greeks.

10:30 Break

CONTRIBUTED PAPERS

11:00 THE DOMELESS TELESCOPE PROJECT AT THE PIC DU MIDI OBSERVATORY
Emmanuel Davoust, Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées

During the Second World War, and despite extreme adverse material conditions, Bernard Lyot and the astronomers at Pic du Midi Observatory were teeming with ideas for new instruments. They completely transformed the existing 50-cm reflector into a 60-cm refracto-reflector, and made extensive studies for a 150-cm domeless telescope, with a helium-filled and refrigerated tube, for very high resolution imaging observations. Paradoxically, the end of the war also marked the end of this ambitious and bold project.

Emmanuel Davoust is an astronomer at Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées in Toulouse, France. His main fields of research are starbursts in galaxies and collective properties of galaxies in clusters. He published The Cosmic Water Hole in 1991, and he is currently researching the history of French astronomy.

11:15 THE FRUSTRATIONS OF A VETERAN ASTRONOMICAL OPTICIAN: ROBERT LUNDIN, 1882-1962
John W. Briggs, Yerkes Observatory, University of Chicago, and
Donald E. Osterbrock, Lick Observatory, University of California, Santa Cruz

Robert Lundin, apprenticed in 19th century optical craftsmanship but employed in 20th century fabrication and engineering, suffered many frustrations during a nonetheless productive career. Son of Carl A.R. Lundin, a senior optician at the famous American firm of Alvan Clark and Sons, Robert grew up building telescopes. As a teenager, he assisted with such projects as the 40-inch objective for Yerkes Observatory. After his father’s death in 1915, he became manager of the Clark Corporation and was responsible for many smaller, successful refractors and reflectors. Lundin also completed major projects, including a highly praised 20-inch achromat for Van Vleck Observatory and a 13-inch used at Lowell Observatory to discover Pluto. But a 1929 dispute with the owners of the Clark Corporation led to Lundin’s resignation and his creation of “C.A. Robert Lundin and Associates.” This short-lived firm built several observatory refractors, including a 10 1/2-inch for the retired chairman of General Electric, but none were entirely successful, and the Great Depression finished off the company. In 1933, Lundin took a job as head of Warner & Swasey’s new optical shop, only to experience his greatest disasters. The 82-inch reflector for McDonald Observatory was delayed for years until astronomers uncovered an error in Lundin’s procedure for testing the primary mirror. A 15-inch photographic lens for the Naval Observatory was a complete failure. Under pressure to complete a 24-inch Schmidt camera, Lundin seems to have attempted to deceive visiting astronomers. After retirement in the mid 1940s, Lundin moved to Austin, Texas, the home of his daughter, where he died. His difficulties should not obscure his success with many instruments that continue to serve as important research and education tools.

11:30 SHERBURNE W. BURNHAM: THE CHICAGO COURT REPORTER AND OUTSTANDING DOUBLE-STAR ASTRONOMER
Donald E. Osterbrock, Lick Observatory, University of California, Santa Cruz

S.W. Burnham completed his formal education at 18, learned shorthand on his own, and became a secretary in New York City. He developed an interest in astronomy and bought a small telescope in London. During the Civil War he became a court reporter for the Union Army in occupied New Orleans, and then moved to Chicago. Burnham’s extremely good vision, unrivaled powers of concentration, and great self-confidence made him an excellent double-star observer, completely self-taught in astronomy.

In 1869 he bought a new 6-inch Clark refractor. With it he observed by night from his home in the South Side after working all day at the courthouse. In 1879 he took his telescope to Mount Hamilton, California, on a vacation to test that site before Lick Observatory was erected there. After returning to Chicago he observed with the 18 1/2-inch Clark refractor of Dearborn Observatory. In 1888 he joined the original staff of the Lick Observatory. However, Burnham soon clashed with Director Edward S. Holden, and in 1892 he returned to Chicago, now as a reporter for the U.S. District Court. When the University of Chicago built Yerkes Observatory, Burnham joined its staff as a volunteer, observing double stars regularly with the 40-inch refractor two nights each weekend.

11:45 ROSE O’HALLORAN: FIRST LADY OF THE ASP
Rudi Paul Lindner, University of Michigan

Rose O’Halloran was the first woman to join the ASP and contributed to PASP and other journals for nearly thirty years. From her top-story apartment in San Francisco she observed solar activity and long-period variable stars with a Brashear refractor that George Davidson gave her. For many years she was the only woman to hold high office in a major astronomical society. This talk recovers and assesses her astronomical work and comments on her career as a marker of the position of women in the astronomical community.

Rudi Paul Lindner is a professor of history at the University of Michigan, where he specializes in the histories of Turkey, the Byzantine Empire, and astronomy.

12:00 Break

1:30 “SHOOTING STARS”: WOMEN DIRECTORS OF THE METEOR SECTION OF THE BAA.
Kristine Larsen, Central Connecticut State University

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, British women were welcomed into amateur astronomical societies and clubs. A particular case of interest is the British Astronomical Association (BAA). Women contributed significantly to the work of the BAA, especially the Meteor Section. This paper will reflect on the contributions of three women who served as directors of the Meteor Section--Fiammetta Wilson, A. Grace Cook, and Catharine Stevens.

Kristine Larsen is associate professor of physics and earth sciences at Central Connecticut State University. She is interested in women in the history of astronomy and astronomy pedagogy.

1:45 THE ASTRONOMICAL ORIGIN OF THE ALPHABET
Sallie Teames, Fort Worth Independent School District

The Proto-Semitic alphabet was the immediate predecessor of the early Semitic alphabets of the Hebrews, Phoenicians, and Arameans. Each of the twenty-two letters in the Proto-Semitic alphabet matches a constellation or asterism in or along the ecliptic. Not only do they match in shape and pattern, they also fall in the same general order, with only two constellations being out of sequence in the alphabetical order. The matching of certain letters is strengthened by the association of certain aspects of Mesopotamian sky lore, and by the fact that most of the corresponding letters in the Ugaritic cuneiform alphabet (1500-1200 BC) also match the same constellations.

Sallie Teames is a member of the Texas Society of Astronomy Educators, ASP, AAVSO, AAE, and the Fort Worth Astronomical Society and a 1995 Tandy Teacher Scholar. She teaches science in Fort Worth and conducts local, state, and national teacher workshops in observational astronomy, hands-on science, learning styles, variable star observing, archaeoastronomy, astrophotography, and student investigative research.

2:00 AN EXAMINATION OF THE WORK OF GUSTAVE SCHLEGEL AND JULIUS STAAL ON ANCIENT CHINESE CONSTELLATIONS
Jeanne E. Bishop, Westlake Schools Planetarium

In 1875 Gustave Schlegel published Uranographie Chinoise, which has a remarkable hypothesis: that some Chinese constellations are as old as 15,600 BC. Most Chinese scholars have concluded that Chinese history started with the Shang dynasty in 1766 BC. Thus Schlegel’s ideas were, and are, clearly contradictory. Julius Staal, a planetarium director whose career covered three continents, translated Schlegel’s book and did research with a Zeiss planetarium projector to produce the detailed Stars of Jade in 1986. Staal died in 1986, and his ideas have not been disseminated widely. This paper will explore the hypothesis of the great age of the four large Chinese seasonal figures: the blue dragon of spring, the red bird of summer, the white tiger of autumn, and the black tortoise of winter. The relationship of smaller ancient Chinese sky figures to ancient Chinese culture also will be considered.

Planetarium director Jeanne Bishop has published widely on planetariums and astronomy education. She has received numerous awards, including a Presidential Award in Science Teaching and the ASP’s Brennan award in 1995. She is a past president of the International Planetarium Society, long-time chair of its Committee on Astronomical Accuracy, and co-author of a high school science textbook.

 

HISTORY III: Astronomy from Difficult Places
Monday, 30 June, Regency D, Hyatt Regency Hotel, Chicago

INVITED LECTURES

4:35 ASTROPHYSICS IN THE UNITED STATES ANTARCTIC PROGRAM
John T. Lynch, National Science Foundation

The modern U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP) began with the International Geophysical Year (IGY) in 1956-57, the focus of which was Earth and the near-Earth space environment. The USAP vision was expanded to the sun and heliosphere when, in 1959, Martin A Pomerantz installed a neutron monitor in McMurdo, Antarctica. Much of the history of astrophysics in the USAP is directly related to Pomerantz’s pioneering efforts in several fields. The focus of the talk will be on the period between the IGY and the establishment, in 1991, of the Center for Astrophysics in Antarctica.

John Lynch is the Program Director for Antarctic Aeronomy and Astrophysics in NSF’s Office of Polar Programs. He was formerly the Program Scientist for Space Physics at NASA Headquarters. He also has worked as a researcher in space physics at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Wisconsin. Mt. Lynch, a 3340-m mountain in Antarctica, is named for him.

5:05 A HUNDRED YEARS OF SCIENCE AT THE PIC DU MIDI OBSERVATORY
Emmanuel Davoust, Observatoire Midi-Pyrénées

The Pic du Midi Observatory, situated on an isolated summit of the Pyrénées mountains at an altitude of 2890 m (9470 ft), was always very hard to reach, and living there was difficult. Its history is a lesson in courage. It is also a lesson in creativity, because astronomers took advantage of the remarkable quality of the site in many ways, to study planets and, later, to prepare for the Apollo missions. They also invited geophysicists, botanists, and cosmic ray physicists to conduct experiments there, and the Observatory became a successful center for multidisciplinary studies.

 

Presented by the ASP History Committee

Katherine Bracher, Whitman College
Roy H. Garstang, University of Colorado
Kevin Krisciunas, University of Washington
E.C. Krupp, Griffith Observatory
Donald E. Osterbrock, UCO/Lick Observatory, University of California, Santa Cruz
Joseph S. Tenn, Sonoma State University (Chair)
Craig B. Waff
Barbara Welther, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
Thomas R. Williams, Rice University

JST
1998-02-11