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Frank Edmondson

Margaret Edmondson and her husband Frank Edmondson, celebrated publication of his book, AURA and its U.S National Observatories, with a "signing." AAS Meeting, June 1997.

Frank Edmondson graduated from Indiana University in 1933, and received a Master's degree in 1934 based on a thesis and professional experience while holding the Lawrence Fellowship at the Lowell Observatory. He continued as a member of the staff in 1934-35.  He was at Harvard 1935-37, and received Ph.D in June 1937. He returned to I.U. in the fall of 1937 as Instructor in Astronomy. He was appointed by President William Lowe Bryan shortly before he retired and Herman B Wells became President. He became chairman when Professor W.A. Cogshall retired.

Dr. Edmondson oversaw the growth of the Department of Astronomy to its present strength during his years as chairman from 1944 to 1978. The period of largest development occurred after 1948 when a regular Ph.D. program was established after Dr. Goethe Link donated his personal observatory and 0.9 m telescope to the university. Also during this period, the Indiana Minor Planet Center was established and nearly 7000 astrographic plates for asteroid orbit studies were taken with a 10-inch telescope at the Goethe Link Observatory. These plates are now archived at the Lowell Observatory.

He was a member of the Minor Planet Commission of the International Astronomical Union (IAU), and was its Vice President (1967-70) and President (1970-73). He was chairman of the U.S. National Committee of the IAU in 1963-64. He was Treasurer of the American Astronomical Society for 21 years (1954-75).

Frank's book

"AURA and its US National Observatories", Cambridge University Press, New York, 1997. Based on personal participation (NSF Program Director for Astronomy 1956-57 and member of the AURA Board of Directors (1957-83), plus 10 years (1978-88) searching archives and taping 85 oral histories. Writing the book took another 5 years, and it was accepted for publication in 1994.

Daniel Kirkwood Chair in Astronomy

Since 1985, Frank Edmondson, now Professor Emeritus of Astronomy at IU Bloomington, and his wife, Margaret, now deceased, started and contributed regularly to an endowment fund for establishing a Kirkwood professorship or chair. On December 10, 1999, Edmondson completed the professorship, made possible by a charitable gift annuity from the I.U. Foundation. Later the same year, an anonymous donor added funds to double the endowment, converting the professorship to a fully endowed chair, and also created another endowment in support of the WIYN Observatory in Arizona. IU is a founding member of the WIYN consortium which designed, constructed and is now using the facility at Kitt Peak, about 50 miles southwest of Tucson. In August, Catherine Pilachowski came to IU from the WIYN Observatory to become Professor of Astronomy and holder of the Daniel Kirkwood Chair of Astronomy.

Margaret Edmondson

Margaret Edmondson was born in 1914 and passed away in January 1999. She was the youngest daughter of Henry Norris Russell, the noted astronomer. She met her future husband, Frank, in 1934 at the Lowell Observatory. They married and settled in Bloomington where Frank joined the faculty and became Professor of Astronomy and later the chair of the Department of Astronomy for 34 years.

At Indiana University, Margaret earned degrees in zoology (an AB with high honors) and an MA in genetics. She was elected to Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi. She did genetics research in the laboratory of the Nobel Laureate Professor Herman Muller.

Frank endowed two Margaret Russell Edmondson Awards at I.U. in her memory. One is awarded annually by Phi Beta Kappa, and the other is awarded annually by Sigma Xi.

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