Oral History Transcript — Dr. Kathy Haramundanis
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Kathy Haramundanis; October 20, 2005
ABSTRACT: Katherine Haramundanis is an astronomer, the daughter of astronomers Sergei Gaposchkin and Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin. This interview covers her home life in Lexington, Massachusetts, and growing up in the atmosphere of the Harvard College Observatory in the 1940s and 1950s. Description of parents' offices. Early schooling at Lexington Grammar and at Buckingham. Relations with siblings; caring for Peter Gaposchkin and relations with parents. Reflections on parents. Exposure to astronomy, career plans, interest in languages, decision to attend Swarthmore and matriculation in 1954. Decision to study Russian and interest in Russian culture; earlier contacts with Harvard faculty and students -- Jesse Greenstein and R. N. Thomas; mother's relations with Whipple and Menzel; Shapley's retirement; mother's interest in moving to the University of Chicago; recollections of Bart Bok; changes at Harvard College Observatory; recollections of Sputnik. Meets John Haramundanis through Peter at Boston University; the Smithsonian at Harvard; husband's work in mathematics; Yoshihido Kozai; hired by Smithsonian in 1958; satellite tracking and analysis of satellite positions and brightnesses; growth of SAO and its working atmosphere; prepares special SAO reports; star catalogue work and the reduction of systematic errors in the FK4 system; additional training at Boston University; production of the SAO Star Catalogue; sense of competition with mother; star catalogues and geodesy; shift to the Celescope Project at Whipple's request just before launch in 1968; role in data production; identifying star fields and filter reductions; Camera 2 failure; reduction protocols; recollection of Robert Davis; calibration problems drew HCO staff attention; Charles Lundquist and Andrew Young's involvement; mother's reaction to calibration problems and inaccurate data; production of Celescope catalogue; grant writing.
DeVorkin:Letís start with a biographical background profile: when and where you were born; and even though it might sound odd, what were the family circumstances under which you first saw life?
Haramundanis:Okay. This is not from memory, but from what Iíve been told. I was born in Boston on January 25, 1937. My parents were Sergei Gaposchkin and Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin. I had at that time one older brother, Edward Michael, and later there was a younger brother, Peter John Arthur.
DeVorkin:Where did you live?
Haramundanis:We lived in Lexington, Massachusetts. My parents had formerly lived in Cambridge, and then after Edward was born, they moved to Lexington.
DeVorkin:What are your first memories of your home life?
Haramundanis:[Chuckles] This is going to sound funny. Being in a crib and hearing my younger brother crying in his crib.
DeVorkin:So you do have those kinds of memories.
Haramundanis:I do have that memory. This three-story house; the attic is the top story, and thereís a main floor and a second floor where the bedrooms were, and the three of us children shared one bedroom for quite a while. Thatís why I was in the same room, I guess, with my brother and heard him, because he was three years younger than I am. I think I was about three at the time. But because my father had asthma, he was always striving to ensure that the house was as free of dust as possible. So they put down linoleum on what were beautiful hardwood floors. In the dining room, there was a pattern under the linoleum, and I remember that pattern because many years later when we took up the linoleum, I recognized the pattern. He told me that the linoleum was put down in 1941, so that memory goes back that far.
DeVorkin:What was the nature of your household from your perspective? Who basically ran the house? And what kinds of activities did you have as children?
Haramundanis:Well, I think as kids we were all kind of crazy because the three of us were always getting into trouble. But in terms of how the house actually ran, my mother was clearly the scientist first, although she was a strong, comforting mother. She did all the cooking and things of that nature. But my father did the housework in terms of cleaning, washing the floor. My mother did the laundry, but he would often hang it outside. Particularly during the war years, which I remember that were not necessarily happy memories, although there was one very happy time for all of us when we went out and spent part of the summer at a small cottage that my father built by himself, where there was no water — we had to haul in water — on a farm that they bought (this is described in the autobiography). That was a very happy summer for me because I think itís when we were all together as a family. My mother traveled quite a bit for her astronomical meetings, although I didnít know then specifically what it was for, so there were times when my father was left alone with us three children. But when we were very small, there was a housekeeper who, I think, came in during the day. I remember her, in fact, because I have a memory of her standing at the kitchen sink in front of the window. I was coming into the room and she was standing on the other side of the room, because she had blonde hair in a page bob that was very popular in that period. Her name was Violet. I remember her as a very loving, nurturing type of individual. But then she left and we had another woman who actually lived in the house. She occupied one of the bedrooms, which may be why all three kids were put into one bedroom, because the house has only three bedrooms, and for five people and then six people, it was a little complicated. She was with my parents, I think, until the middle of the war or 1941, í42, something like that. Then I think because the war work became so important, everybody was doing war work, Iím not sure what they did in terms of handling babysitting chores at that point, because we were all still pretty small.
DeVorkin:Did you have a family where reading was important? That in your own upbringing you felt it was an important part of your parentsí life?
Haramundanis:Absolutely. Reading was crucial. For me, one thing that happened was, must have been in the late 1940s, that my grandmother, who lived in England, died. She was the only grandparent that was still living when my brothers and I were born. My fatherís parents had died in the 1920s in Russia, and my motherís father had died in 1904 when she was small. She talks about that in the autobiography. So her mother was still living and, in fact, visited Lexington once. I donít remember this because I think it probably occurred maybe just before I was born or maybe when I was so small that I donít remember it. We did visit Britain once when I was one and a half, but I have no recollection of that. So this grandmother was the only one who was still alive when we were young. Then she died in one of the later years of the war. I think she was just old. It doesnít have anything specifically to do with the war, except perhaps indirectly. She did live in London, and so obviously went through the war in that place. But anyhow, she died, and my mother inherited most of her things, and so I remember two huge boxes of books coming. They were these great, big, wooden crates that came and were deposited on the lawn in front of our house. They were so large you couldnít get them into the house. So then there was this unpacking. That was such a revelation to me. I mean, we had books, certainly, but here were just racks of all sorts of books.
DeVorkin:And not astronomy books?
Haramundanis:No. I think probably no astronomy books whatsoever. But because my motherís father had been an historian and her mother had had fairly eclectic reading interests, and they covered a broad range of things. But it was just a delight for me to go into this unknown library and then find these books of all different kinds.
DeVorkin:What did you read? What did you find, if you can recall?
Haramundanis:Oh, what did I read? I read so many things itís hard to say.
DeVorkin:Was it history or English literature orÖ?
Haramundanis:Yes. It was certainly both of those. But there were a lot of things in German, which I could not read, because my motherís mother was German. And in fact, my mother, too, was reasonably fluent in German. When my parents were first married, they spoke in German. In fact, that was a problem when we started school because in a way our first language could have been German. It was confusing when we were in school because we didnít know which word was from which language. That kind of thing. So they stopped, at that point, speaking German commonly in the house and started speaking English. Part of that was, of course, that my father had spent over 10 years in Germany and he was fluent in German. He knew some English, but it wasnít as fluent as his German.
DeVorkin:Certainly by the time I met him in the 1960s he had no problems.
Haramundanis:Right. But I remember when I was in high school, one of my friends called me on the telephone, and my father answered. She said, ďGee, your father has such a strong accent.Ē And of course, I couldnít hear it. [Laughs] But she said clearly he did. But he had not a Russian accent, but a German accent, I think.
DeVorkin:When did you first realize who your parents were?
Haramundanis:Well, thatís a good question. Probably when I was pretty young. A lot of it was because of the way all my friends reacted. They obviously knew something about my parents before I realized that they were prominent in one way or another. In fact, not long ago I went to a high school reunion, and they still ask about my parents. You know? [Laughs] So they were known in the town, not only because of the fact that they both were working at Harvard University, but also because they were moderately active in various town things, like my mother taught Sunday School in the church, during the war they were both wardens, for example, and my father was very active in the Russian War Relief so he was always contacting people. So they were active in the sense that they were trying to do various things in the community. They continued to do that for a long time.
DeVorkin:What are your first impressions of Harvard College Observatory? Did your parents take the children routinely to the office, or was that a very special event?
Haramundanis:I think it became sort of routine at one point because when we were older — in high school, for example — we didnít have anyone at home at that time, so we would go home, and then we would get bored. Weíd say, ďWell, letís go to Cambridge.Ē So weíd hop on a train, and weíd go to Cambridge. That was just sort of the kind of thing that we would do. We would show up, and probably we werenít necessarily always welcome because kids in the research environment is not necessarily the best thing. But they were all very patient and very good about it and so forth. My father had an office in a sort of out of the way place, which at that time was the plate stacks; itís not that any more. It was on the ground floor in that building, so it was kind of out of the way. Sometimes we would go in, in fact not through the door, but through the window. I was a little embarrassed not long ago when I visited Dorrit Hoffleit at Yale when she told me they (my parentís colleagues) knew all about the window.
DeVorkin:So your mother and father did not share an office?
Haramundanis:No. I donít think they ever shared an office.
DeVorkin:The impression that other people have is that they did — the way people talk about it, it sounds like they did. Thatís very interesting that you can correct that impression.
Haramundanis:Right. Well, of course, it may have varied from time to time. I know his being on the ground floor in what was a plate stack area at that time, was one period. Then there was a time, much later (because, of course, remember, they worked here for many years), they were on the second floor; I guess it would be in the same building, but up one floor, or maybe itís the third floor. There were three floors in that building. The business office today is on the second floor. There was a big office on the third floor. They had a big area with her office in the back with the windows looking out over what is now the driveway. She had a small office in the back, then, there was a large prior office where they often had assistants who were reading and examining plates. And he had a small office kind of around the corner from there. So they were in the same sort of area, but physically, they had separate offices still, even though they were connected. It was like there was this big connecting room: he had something on this side, and hers was way around the corner. So they were close to each other from that point of view, but they werenít physically in the same office. I donít think they ever sat, for example, across two tables from each other. I donít ever remember that configuration.
DeVorkin:What were their offices like, starting with your momís office? Was there something characteristic about it?
Haramundanis:Yes: piles of paper. Thatís probably characteristic of a lot of people. But my father was a little bit more methodical about how he kept his office. I guess it goes also with the fact that for him it was easier to sort of keep the house straightened out than for her. It was just her nature. She said once something like (and I think itís in the autobiography), ďYes, my papers may be messy, but my mind is not.Ē [Laughter] Because she obviously had a very clear thought process about the things that were important to her, but the physical attributes around her, she just kind of ignored them. I donít think she noticed it — it wasnít really important to her. She always knew where to find something if she needed it.
DeVorkin:Thatís the big question. So she was never constantly berating herself for trying to find something.
Haramundanis:Never happened. Of course, the other characteristic, sadly, is the smoking. Her cigarette ashtray was always overflowing. She would forget to empty it, and it was a problem.
DeVorkin:Was that a problem between your father and his asthma and your mother?
Haramundanis:They never discussed it. I donít know that they made a connection. My recollection of the asthma was that there was an Astronomical Society meeting; I think it was in Columbus, Ohio. We went there as a family. And because they were always very short on money, we stayed in a place that was like an old farmhouse where they rented out some rooms. They didnít have adequate blankets, so my father used as a blanket something that was kind of like an old rug: it was just really old and really dusty. And he got an asthmatic attack. I remember going with him to the doctor. It was an emergency visit right there when they were in Columbus so that he could get some medication. So I think it really got focused at that time. So thatís why he became so careful about dust in the house, because he attributed his asthmatic condition to that.
DeVorkin:So that was his first attack?
Haramundanis:That I know of. Itís possible he had had some before and never mentioned it. I mean, I donít know. But that would have been in the 1940s. I donít think they ever connected it with cigarette smoking. Today, people would. But in that day, there were a lot of things people didnít know, and I think that was one of them.
DeVorkin:Taking you back to the late í40s. You were a teenager. Everybody was living at home. Iíd just love to get an idea of what a dinner was like at the Gaposchkinís.
Haramundanis:It was always very interesting, because they often talked about what was happening at work. In fact, that was definitely our exposure to the scientific interests that they both had. A lot about the politics at the observatory; a lot about how they were going to be managing, Okay. Thereís this happening, and whoís going to go? Are they both going to go? Or whatís going to happen with that?Ē Some stuff about us kids, but I probably blotted most of that out. [Laughter] But certainly, we always had dinner together, unless for some reason somebody was away. It was a really important part of our daily existence.
DeVorkin:As children, did you have a role in the house to help the house operate — chores and stuff like that?
Haramundanis:Oh, absolutely. I actually canít say too much about my brothers, but I certainly had a fair amount. I did a lot of dishes. I spent a lot of time taking care of my younger brother, Peter, because he had some developmental problems that I guess everybody knows about. Nowadays, I think some people might say he had a mild form of autism. But Iím not sure. Iíve never heard that diagnosed specifically by a doctor; itís just sort of my cut on it. I certainly felt a very strong responsibility for him. In fact, when I was in the third grade, because he was having some obvious developmental issues, they were unable to put him into a first grade. So they put him into a transition grade at the Buckingham School here in Cambridge. I was going to grammar school in Lexington.
DeVorkin:These were all public schools?
Haramundanis:Buckingham School is a private school, but the Lexington grammar school I was going to was a public school.
DeVorkin:So you went all through public school.
Haramundanis:Except for that one year when they took me out of the Lexington school and put me into the Buckingham School so that I could be there with Peter. We were not in the same grade, but I could be there during the day for him to have assurance that there was a family member nearby.
DeVorkin:How did you feel about that?
Haramundanis:It was complicated.
DeVorkin:Itís quite a bit of responsibility.
DeVorkin:How old were you?
Haramundanis:Well, I was in third grade, because I returned to the public school in the fourth grade. I remember the main thing for me was a reaction to the fact that in the third grade I sort of severed my relationship with my friends in the public school and I never really got it back again. When youíre away for a year, itís a big change.
DeVorkin:When youíre in third grade, yes.
Haramundanis:So in any case, I went by it. But the point is that it was a change that didnít make a lot of sense to me. But, I did it. Itís what my parents decided to do.
DeVorkin:So your parents asked you to do it or told you that it had to be done?
Haramundanis:I donít know. I canít remember that. I donít recall that we had a discussion about it.
DeVorkin:Aside from that, was the Buckingham School for you in the third grade perceptively better than the public school? Or was there no difference?
Haramundanis:It was different. It was certainly different. There was one subject (I canít remember whether it was math or reading) where I was ahead of the people in the private school. I attributed that to what I had been doing in the public school, but it might not be the case; it might have been just a different school and they taught it differently. But there was no course in which I was behind the kids in the private school. But in this one course, and it was either math or reading where I was ahead. So I just noticed that it was different. Also the way they handled the school lunches was a little different. So it was a learning experience. To be fair, I never asked my parents specifically why did they do this, and itís possible that they decided to do it because it was a better opportunity for me. I mean, I donít know. I have no real understanding. But the concept was, ďWell, youíre his sister.Ē And in fact, my father even to the day he died kept saying to me, ďYou know, take care of Peter.Ē Peter actually is a very independent guy. [Laughs] He doesnít need anybody to take care of him! But it was just their perception, particularly my fatherís perception that he needed somebody to take care of him. In fact, I think my mother was more matter-of-fact about this. She recognized Peter had certainÖI donít like to call them emotional issues, but they had to do with the emotional connection with other people. He canít express it the way other people can express it, but he certainly has feelings like everybody else. In any case, it just was my situation that, I think because I was the girl and because I was older, there was an expectation on my fatherís part in particular that I would do something to help to take care of Peter. Thatís all.
DeVorkin:I guess you canít say exactly how that affected you, but would you say this was an important watershed in your life where it set your sense of where you fit in the family?
Haramundanis:Oh, probably. Iím sure it had a big impact. But this was also when I was pretty young, and at a time when I still had a very close relationship with my father. I always had a closer relationship with my father than with my mother, and I think thatís partly because he was more kind of like the caregiver when we were small. In fact, I think my older brother also feels the same way. But as we got older, in particular, for myself as a teenager, I had very major disagreements with my father.
Haramundanis:All kinds of things. Just his expectations of me. I remember once — and this is an extreme example, and it only happened once — I was a teenager, and I would go out to see my friends. One time I came home, and it was latish, like 10:00 at night, and for some reason, he was very angry with the fact that I had gone out. So we had a big argument, and he thrashed me with a yardstick, which he had never done before. I was so outraged that I just ran out of the house. I used to carry his photograph in my wallet, and I took the wallet out of my pocket and I threw it into a field. And I never found it again; it was gone forever, which is fine. But the point is that I had a very close relationship with him, and then this, on top of a lot of other small things, just blew it for me. I just never could trust him again, which was too bad.
DeVorkin:Did your mother and father put up a united front with the children as far as discipline and stuff like that?
Haramundanis:Yes, by and large, they did.
DeVorkin:So you guys didnít try to pit one against the other?
Haramundanis:Yes, Iím sure we did. Peter, in particular, was an expert at this. I remember, I donít know, maybe he was four or something. When he didnít get something he wanted, he would run into the other room, throw himself down on the floor, and start crying and yelling and banging his hands and feet and saying, ďCome on, look at me, Iím crying! Come and look at me, Iím crying!Ē And we would all say, ďCome on, Peter. Stop it,Ē or something like that. But also, of course (and I used this a little bit myself; it came to be kind of a little mantra in the household), if I could say, ďPeter and I want to do this,Ē then they would agree. Iím sure I used it to my advantage many times.
DeVorkin:From what you know about the American conception of the typical family, would you say that the Gaposchkin family was a typical family as you were growing up?
Haramundanis:I donít know whatís typical. I mean, certainly, we had parents and children. In that regard, we were typical. But I think the thing that made us different — and in fact, I heard this from the parents of some of my friends — was that my mother worked. It wasnít only that she worked, but she was in a moderately prominent position. Being connected with Harvard University in those days was pretty important. I mean, it still would be. Some of them thought she shouldnít be doing that — the women, in particular. I never heard that from a man, but the mother of one of my friends might say, ďThe reason you kids have problems is because your mother works.Ē This kind of thing. Youíd hear it. So what could you do about it? [Laughs]
DeVorkin:When did you realize that not only did your mother work, and not only was she at Harvard, but that she was regarded as the most important, certainly female, astronomer in the world?
Haramundanis:Probably when I was in high school. I came to get an increased appreciation of that. I remember, in fact, she became chairman of the department when I was in college. I heard about this through the newspaper. They didnít call me. We didnít have a calling relationship. Calling on the telephone was something that we didnít do a lot of; it was expensive. So I heard about it, and I sent her a card of congratulations.
DeVorkin:Were you at college at this time?
Haramundanis:Yes. I was not at home. In fact, that was a requirement. I was not going to live at home when I was in college.
DeVorkin:That was your requirement.
Haramundanis:That was my requirement.
DeVorkin:Okay. Weíll get back to that. So you read about it in the newspaper.
Haramundanis:Yes, and so I sent her a card. In fact, somebody might have mentioned it to me because there was a small astronomy department at Swarthmore.
DeVorkin:Peter Van de Kamp?
Haramundanis:Peter Van de Kamp was there, and Arnold Willer, I think, was another professor there.
DeVorkin:Yes, I donít know the name. How about Sarah Lee Lippincott?
Haramundanis:She mustíve been there, but Iím not sure that I interacted with her. I took one astronomy course. I didnít have a lot of back and forth with the people in the astronomy department. I had met Peter Van de Kamp a number of years before because (I donít remember which year it was; it might have been í48) we took a trip to the West Coast, and we may have gone through Pennsylvania on our trip and stopped because I remember visiting Van de Kamp and his family. I believe it must have been on that trip.
DeVorkin:Okay, letís now move back. I want to get an appreciation for how you started thinking about your own life and your own career and where astronomy might have been in that.
Haramundanis:When I was small, on the order of seven or eight, I remember my younger brother and I spending a lot of time drawing astronomical pictures. Like we would draw pictures of a solar system and identify all the bodies in the solar system — great big charts and things like that.
DeVorkin:This is your older brother?
Haramundanis:My younger brother. I donít know that my older brother participated in this particular kind of exercise so much. It was more my younger brother and me. I spent a lot of time with my older brother, too. I remembered those things more when I was a little older, like we all used to go to the movies together and things of that nature. Anyhow, we were interested in astronomy. We knew our parents were astronomers. For example, my father sometimes took me when he went observing at the Agassiz Station. I didnít actually see him at the camera, although I went in to see the telescope and stuff like that. He would be there in the middle of the night, and I would be in the cottage sleeping. I didnít stay with him all night in the cold observatory dome, but I would be with him during some of that period. Edward did the same thing. I donít know if Peter did. So we obviously knew astronomy was so important to our parents, and we studied it in a kind of ad hoc fashion. In school, there wasnít much opportunity to study astronomy, and so I didnít. When I was in high school, I took various math courses and so forth, and I took a physics course, but I didnít take biology or chemistry, which I later regretted because I thought it would have been a good plan to have done so. But I had started to focus on languages at that time, so my main goal was to take as many languages as I could. One of the motivations there (although Iím not sure I articulated it in my own mind at that time) was that I had a great admiration for my motherís education. She was, of course, educated in Britain, and she knew Latin and Greek as well as English, and also had this exposure to a lot of science. I wanted to sort of replicate some of that, but in the school system where I was, you couldnít do all of those things; it just wasnít possible. So I decided to concentrate on languages as opposed to science. I could have taken a more science-oriented program, and I think both of my brothers did because they certainly went more strongly into science than I did. So I focused on languages, and I took Latin and French and Spanish, which was the maximum that I could get — they didnít give any other languages. I was more determined to work in the languages area as opposed to science. Also, to be frank, I was rather turned off of science because of the interaction that I saw between my parents. My mother was so focused on her scientific career that she sometimes, I felt, treated my father rather badly and forced him to take care of us children when she had a scientific activity to participate in.
DeVorkin:Was there a clear pecking order then?
Haramundanis:Absolutely, yes. It was clear she was in charge in that area, totally, and he was not.
DeVorkin:Did he seem to fret about that?
Haramundanis:In some ways I donít think he minded, but in other ways I think it bothered him. So itís hard to know. I never knew my father when he was in his early 30s. Of course, he had a terrible life. He was a refugee in his 20s, a refugee again in his 30s. I mean, it has an impact on you. I corresponded a little bit with one of his friends he knew when he was studying in Berlin, a gentleman who lives now in Switzerland. Actually, he may no longer be living at this point. But after my father died, I had a correspondence with him. He was also an astronomer. He said a couple of things about my father, which suggests that various circumstances ultimately had a long-term effect on him. One was that he always kept himself a little bit separate from the other students because, of course, my father was a Russian and the other students were mostly Germans. But mostly, it wasnít to do with agreement on things, but just that my father was used to his Russian food. He would go to the market on his own and get his food and prepare his own dinners and rather than eating in the mess hall with the other students. Thatís the kind of thing he mentions some of this in his 3-volume autobiography/history.
DeVorkin:Yes, itís very different.
Haramundanis:Right, and I think it was, partly, what he was used to. I remember my father sometimes would cook for us very simple meals, but they were always delicious.
DeVorkin:He really did have a facility for that.
Haramundanis:He did, yes. Right, he certainly did. In fact, my father, Iím glad to say, taught me, for example, how to do things so that Iím handy around the house with a hammer and nails and saw. I can fix things my husband is totally blitzed on when it comes to it. ďYes, Iíll fix that. Sure.Ē My mother couldnít do this, but my father was good at it. I remember once at the farm they had, I was up on the roof of the two story chicken house with him, pounding in nails to put on whatever it was, asphalt shingles, or maybe it was tarpaper, I donít remember. But the point is that we were up there together, and thatís how I learned how to use a hammer. So he gave me a lot of those skills that are definitely useful on a day-to-day basis, and not something that my mother would have been very familiar with.
DeVorkin:So you became interested in languages. Was there any encouragement from your parents one way or another?
Haramundanis:I donít know, maybe. I was going to say I didnít think, by and large, that they specifically thought about the career trajectory for any of us. But in retrospect, perhaps thatís not true. Certainly I think my mother had an influence in Edwardís going to Cambridge for a year after he finished his undergraduate degree.
DeVorkin:Where did he go?
Haramundanis:He went to Tufts for his undergraduate degree. In fact, he said to me ruefully more than once — because he studied to be an electrical engineer at Tufts. He said the year they graduated all of the engineering changed. He had learned about vacuum tubes, and then the transistors came out, and it was a whole new thing. Everything he had learned — or not everything, but a large of it — was down the tubes. [no pun intended.]
DeVorkin:Oh, yes. Thatís quite interesting. Is there anything else we need to talk about or understand about your early training, about your family life, or possibly teachers that you had in high school who were influential in determining the course of your life?
Haramundanis:No. I think, mainly, it was my interest in languages, which I didnít specifically get — well, there was one teacher. I donít know that she influenced me, but it was my Latin teacher. She was so enthusiastic about what she was teaching, and she was the first language teacher that I had. In fact, if anything, her enthusiasm for this area and the way she taught it, it was inspirational. But I had already decided to go into languages; thatís why I started taking Latin, because not everybody took Latin in those days. So that was important. I was never particularly inspired by either my math or my physics professors. They were okay. I liked algebra best. That was great. But again, the teaching was not particularly inspirational. I remember thinking about this a little bit when my mother wrote The Dyerís Hand because remember, she dedicated that book to her three teachers. In fact, in 1949, she and I took a trip to Europe, and she introduced me to one of these teachers. So she obviously had this strong relationship with her teachers that was part of an important motivation, I believe, in her life. In fact, a number of years later after she died, I went to visit Newnham College, because I wanted to see what were the circumstances where she lived and studied. They were very kind to me. I stayed there for a couple of days and slept in a dormitory. I walked around the campus a little bit. I saw the little observatory that she mentions in the book. I asked them, ďWhere are your classrooms?Ē And they said, ďWe donít have any classrooms,Ē because, I guess, people do go to class, but they go somewhere else to do that. Primarily, they have science experts or subject experts where they have either just one-on-one meetings with the individual students, or maybe itís a small group, two or three students, with a professor. Thatís how they get their interaction rather than in formal classrooms, which is the traditional way that American universities are set up. I never had that kind of a situation either in a public school or at Swarthmore to have a strong, one-on-one, weekly relationship with a professor.
DeVorkin:Is that something that appealed to you?
Haramundanis:I think itís an excellent idea. One of the things that I did notice about Newnham is that it has, in addition to my mother, who may be its most distinguished graduate today (who knows what will happen in the future), Rosalind Franklin, who made such a contribution to the DNA research, she was a graduate of this school, and there are others as well. So they got it right somehow. In fact, I donít know if anyone has studied the difference between the educational systems and the results there of, because I think they obviously must be doing something right in this area, and weíre not doing it quite right enough.
DeVorkin:Thatís quite right.
Haramundanis:Weíre in agreement on that.
DeVorkin:Letís find out how you chose Swarthmore.
Haramundanis:Well, itís an interesting question. I applied to five schools. Not sure I could remember all of them now. As I said, my requirement was I had to be away from home, because I felt at that point, because of the difficulties I was having with my father, I just couldnít survive if I stayed at home. They were fine with that. I mean, I never got any disagreement. I think my father kept saying, ďWell, you really want to go to Harvard, donít you?Ē And I said, ďNo, no, no, I donít want to go to Harvard. I need to be away from home, really away from home.Ē Swarthmore was one of the five that accepted me. My mother had had a grad student, (Richard N.) Dick Thomas, whom you must know or know of. He died, unfortunately. But I met him when I was a kid, and I canít remember when. I donít know, ten, eleven, twelve, something like that, when he was a student here. I liked him very much. I really admired him. He was so full of energy. He was obviously really bright, could comprehend things extremely quickly. Very fast thinker, I guess, is the way I thought of him. For some reason, my mother asked him for his opinion about the five schools, maybe because we were friends. I knew him, but I didnít know him that well. He didnít have any children at least not at that time. Later, I think he had one daughter. So she asked him, and his recommendation was Swarthmore as opposed to one of the other schools. I think one of the schools was the University of Colorado, and I canít remember why I had applied there. But maybe thinking, ďWell, if nobody else takes me, maybe I can go there.Ē
DeVorkin:But this was definitely for languages, not for astronomy.
Haramundanis:Well, as an undergraduate, yes, you do have to have a focus. You do have to have a major, but youíre still at the stage where youíre still exploring different areas. But definitely not for astronomy — I was not planning to study astronomy.
DeVorkin:What were your years at Swarthmore? When did you enter and when did you graduate?
Haramundanis:I entered in 1954, which was the year that I graduated from high school, and I graduated from Swarthmore in 1958. So four years later. When I got there, my adviser was a French teacher, and she wanted me to study French, to focus on French, for that to be my major. But I had already determined, and this was really I understood later for psychological reasons, that I wanted to study Russian. Swarthmore didnít have a full program in Russian, but they said, ďOkay, you can do this, but youíre going to have to go to some other schools as well.Ē So I ended up, to get all of the Russian requirements for my degree, going to five different schools, which worked out. I got my degree in Russian. I went to Swarthmore, I went to Bryn Mawr, I went to the University of Pennsylvania, I went to Haverford, and then I spent one summer at the Middlebury Language School. Which was a great experience — I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to study any language.
DeVorkin:You must have had a serious facility, a good facility, to have attained that. Is that a fair thing to say?
Haramundanis:Well, yes, fair. Iím not as fluent, for example as my younger son who also decided to study Russian, many years later, and he went two years to Middlebury. He also had the opportunity to go to Russia, where he spent six months. He is much more fluent in Russian than I am. But yes, I can read Russian and I can speak Russian a little bit. Oddly enough, I rarely spoke Russian with my father.
DeVorkin:That was my next question.
Haramundanis:Yes, right. Almost never. He called me ďLittle TatorkaĒ, which means someone who doesnít speak Russian very well.
DeVorkin:But this might have been somehow because of your father? Or you donít think so?
Haramundanis:Well, yes, Iím sure it was connected with him, of course. I felt the need to understand the Russian culture more, I think, because I had difficulty understanding him. And of course, it was connected with my difficulties getting along with him.
DeVorkin:Itís very personal.
Haramundanis:It is very personal, right. Not necessarily the best career decision, but sometimes you need to make these decisions.
DeVorkin:Exactly. Let me back up, unless thereís something we have to cover during your Swarthmore years. It sounds like you moved around to five different colleges, and of course, the Philadelphia area has wonderful schools.
Haramundanis:Yes, it does. It was a great opportunity. In fact, I got to see many different schools and have some interaction with the different student bodies. I was just going to these schools to take the classes because I was residential at Swarthmore during this whole period.
DeVorkin:Was there an agreement among these schools?
DeVorkin:So you didnít have to re-matriculate or do anything?
Haramundanis:No, they arranged it all. I gave them my requirements, and they had certain degree requirements. If you were doing it in French, these are the things you would take. Now weíve got to deliver the equivalent in Russian. I donít know if they have a Russian program today, they may not. But it was engineered so that it could meet my needs and also the requirements of the College.
DeVorkin:Thatís quite interesting. Knowing that this existed, that it made sense. What I want to do is to take you back to your teenage years and ask you about your contacts with the Harvard College Observatory faculty and whom you remember there. You mentioned R. N. Thomas. Anyone else? If I were to go through a set of names, like Bok and others.
Haramundanis:I probably had contact with almost all the faculty members during that period largely because my parents would periodically have these garden parties, and everybody would come. So it was easy to get to know both the members of the faculty and also their spouses. Sometimes their children, although I donít remember a lot about their children. One of the people, actually not so much on the faculty but as a student, was Jesse Greenstein. Jesse Greenstein made a big impression on me. I thought he was wonderful. One of the things that I felt, rightly or wrongly, about my mother was that, yes, she was a great scientist, but she was a little inhuman about it. Jesse Greenstein proved to me that you could be very human and still be a great scientist. I always admired that about him because he had a very personable way. Probably of all the people whom I met, Greenstein was the one I really liked the best.
DeVorkin:Very interesting. What Iím getting at, of course, is the relationship between the faculty and how you may have become aware of it. You said that your parents would talk observatory politics at the table. Did you pay any attention?
Haramundanis:Some. By and large, as kids you donít really care about that. But I know that my mother had a lot of frustrations. We started out, when we first had our email conversations, talking about Dr. Whipple. Dr. Whipple was, of course, a friend, and my mother never seemed to have any antagonism to him. It was Menzel for whom she had the greatest antagonism for some reason, and I suspect, based upon what she said in her autobiography, that that stems back to the early days when Shapley was making decisions about who would work on what. So I think it just goes back to that.
DeVorkin:Well, it goes back to 1924, í25.
Haramundanis:Oh, right, in the Russell era. It was a major issue for her. I remember that as being one of the main things.
DeVorkin:Yes. It was very, very serious.
Haramundanis:Right, a big problem for her. I guess you could say she never got over it.
DeVorkin:Would you be able to differentiate how her relationship with Menzel changed over the years, say, from 1950 to the time you left? Thatís asking a lot, I know.
Haramundanis:To be honest, after Menzel became the director, and he did a few things for her that were positive, that helped her a lot. But even later, I can remember, every now and then Iíd hear something about it. But remember that in the period from í54 to í58, I was already away at school. Of course, I was home in the summertime. In fact, I was home for most of those years in the summertime. I wasnít there all of the time; maybe for a couple of weeks or something, I would be off somewhere with some friends or something, but by and large, I was home during those summers working or attending summer school. So those things could have come up. But I do think that she felt more comfortable with him later. But still, itís so many years later, so many lost opportunities.
DeVorkin:What about with Shapleyís retirement? Was that something you remembered?
Haramundanis:Yes, I do. Actually, do you remember what year it was? Because thatís the piece Iím not sure about.
DeVorkin:September of í52.
Haramundanis:í52, yes, so that was while I was still home and in high school. I remember several things: One is that I know my mother took a visit out to where Shapley was in Sharon or something like that, and we went there, but I didnít see him. I wasnít sure if maybe his medical condition was such that he couldnít see anybody, or she just didnít want me as a kid to be interfering with their discussion. She was not happy. It wasnít like, ďOh, this is wonderful. Now heís retiring to a happy retirement.Ē For her, I think it was a time of concern because I donít think she felt confident that she was going to have the opportunities that she wanted. I believe in like the 1954 timeframe (Iím not sure about this exactly), but I think she was considering a move toÖwould it be University of Chicago?
Haramundanis:Yes, Yerkes. Because she went out there andÖagain, Iím not precisely sure of the date, but somebody not long ago but within the last year and a half or so, sent me an email saying something about they had seen some photographs of her with a background of a blackboard on which there were some mathematical equations that she had put up. Perhaps she was there to give a lecture. I donít know. I mean, it could have happened. And that this was part of her activity to perhaps find herself a position there.
DeVorkin:Struve was at Berkeley. Youíre talking the early Ď50s. Struve had moved there by then. So it was Stromgren, Kuiper, Chandra — people like that were in charge.
Haramundanis:Kuiper, I know, often remarked on what a great astronomical family the Gaposchkins were. I donít know. Something like that. But the point is that I think that during that period after Shapley retired, she was seriously considering moving somewhere else. So that was one. And there was also, I think, some exploration at, I think itís Smith College or Wellesley, potentially for being a teacher. She did teach a course. I think it was in Wellesley, because I remember going with her one day. This must have been when I was in high school. Yes, so that would be the right period. So I sat in the class while she taught. I wasnít taking the course; I was just there as a visitor for that one day, so she took me out to do that.
DeVorkin:But just for a day.
Haramundanis:Yes, just for a day. I think she had to go, like, once a week or something to teach this course. I also found, when I was collecting information for the publication about her (CU Press), an (almost) complete bibliography of her papers. It stopped in 1954, though of course she published a number of things after that. I took that as evidence that she was looking for another position.
DeVorkin:Around the dinner table, or wherever you may have heard it, was there apprehension over Shapleyís retirement? Was there concern for the future?
Haramundanis:I donít recall a specific discussion about that, but I had the sense that there was some anxiety, or concern. Maybe ďanxietyĒ is too strong a term. Concern. This is going to mean changes. What will it mean? Donít really know.
DeVorkin:Did you have any idea that your mother had a favorite for who she should take over as director?
Haramundanis:She did. I think Dr. Bok was the one who really wanted that position. In a way, she thought he deserved it or something like that. I mean, that was the sense that I got. My understanding is she voted against him. Therefore, it must have gone to one of the others. Whether she voted directly ďyesĒ for Menzel, if thatís the way it worked, I donít know. Although the Bok's as a family were close to her, it wasnít a personal thing. Again, this comes down to, I guess, her view of what was important for the institution. Or something like that.
DeVorkin:Okay, yes. At this point I can say that your mother was the one who made the difference. She did write very, very logical and very, very practical letters in support of Menzel, but not against anyone else. But they were almost clinical. If I were to use that word, ďclinical,Ē would that be a helpful word to describe your motherís attitude toward what works, what doesnít work — how to make things work?
Haramundanis:Yes, I think itís fair. Itís hard to find a better word.
DeVorkin:We were talking about how best to describe your motherís attitude toward describing situations, or her regard for what is right or what is the proper situation. I had used the word ďclinical,Ē and you came back with what your father said was right.
Haramundanis:I think my father may have used this term occasionally: ďinhuman.Ē That sounds too clinical, if you will. But the concept is that logic prevails, and the human aspect is not considered. Itís considered not important. That the logical approach, gathering the specific pieces of data, thatís what counts. Thatís what you use to base your decision on. So maybe thatís not inhuman; itís just logical. Itís following logic to its logical conclusion, following logic to its real conclusion. Arthur Koestler has this wonderful phrase, and donít ask me to say which book itís in, but it has to do with, ďLogic alone is a defective compass because it takes you hither and yon, and then you are lost in the mist.Ē Thatís the way I feel about pure logic, that there are times when you cannot describe things purely logically. Thereís this area that you canít get to with logic alone. Logic alone is wonderful in some ways. One plus one equals two in that regard, but there are areas where following the mathematically proven logic doesnít get you to the right answer. It may get you to an answer, but itís not the right answer.
DeVorkin:Interesting. Would you say that this is something that you gained from your parents? Or is this something since?
Haramundanis:Since. Yes, definitely. I have, in fact, in a large regard, my husband to thank for this, because he is very logical, and in fact, this is partly where I have this discussion sometimes. He goes through the logic and he says, ďSo therefore, thatís the proof,Ē I say, ďYes, but youíve left out this whole area because youíre just following logic.Ē
DeVorkin:Does he appreciate that?
Haramundanis:He does. Heís good about it, yes.
DeVorkin:You mentioned Bart Bok. That was a very helpful recollection to have, very helpful to me. But is there anything about the growth or the changes that were taking place? I mean, enormous things were happening at Harvard at that time: the radio astronomy; Whippleís meteor project; the high altitude observatory at climax; the Boyden Station.
Haramundanis:Yep, all those things were happening. Right.
DeVorkin:Some things were being let go, like Boyden Station, like AAVSO; and other things were being brought in, like the radio astronomy and meteor project and things of that sort. Was there discussion of this around the table? Because of all of the people — when youíre looking at Whipple, Bok, Menzel, and Gaposchkin as the four biggies — these three, Whipple, Bok, and Menzel, are building these empires, but your motherís not.
Haramundanis:She was not. Right.
DeVorkin:Was there any discussion of that? Did Sergei ever say, ďWhereís your empire?Ē
Haramundanis:No, Sergei would never have said that. It would never have occurred to him to think in those terms. My father grew up in a country where the czar made all the decisions. A lot of Russians still think the same way. I think, for him, my mother had sort of become a czar. And thatís kind of a real thing because he admired her so much. He had so much respect for her — not only her scientific acumen, but also how she handled herself in the difficult political environment of the observatory. Again, I think he might have been a different man if he hadnít had all of those circumstances behind him. So many years as a refugee and all of this has an impact on you. As I said, based upon things that I had heard from a colleague of his when he was a student, he was out there doing amazing things, going all alone to do his variable star observations in a remote location where nobody else wanted to go, that kind of thing. He had this enthusiasm for doing all of that, but that was when he was in his early 30s. By the time he was 60, things were quite different for him personally. Also, he did have a lot to do with bringing up the children, and that took him away from the kind of work that he might have done independently. So back to the question about the changing environment at the observatory, my mother once did make a comment to me. I canít put a date on it specifically, but it had to do with the change in the funding for how you did astronomy. She was looking back with nostalgia, I guess you could say, about the fact that in the days when you had private donations that were given and dedicated to a particular thing — I would think the Henry Draper catalog is an example — that then you had freedom to do the kinds of astronomical work that you could really move forward with. As soon as you get beholden, so to speak, to these other entities, government entities, whatever they may be, then youíre losing your scientific control over what youíre doing. I mean, it was just her view of it. The Gaposchkins got many grants, I believe, from a variety of government institutions. The Navy is an example. So they also were free to do their scientific work. I could never understand, for example, why the Navy would be interested in variable stars and the Magellanic Clouds, but they were, I guess. What Iím saying is that she had the view that this would not be a good thing in the long run for science. I donít think itís true, but you do have to be cautious about where your funding comes from and do science with no strings attached. But not many people do that nowadays. [Chuckles]
Haramundanis:Itís a problem, no question.
DeVorkin:Now, you left for Swarthmore in í54. The whole Smithsonian thing didnít come up until the end of í54 and through to the spring í55, when it was finally announced the Smithsonian was coming up to Harvard. It was really that summer of í55 that things started. Did you have any awareness of, a) what the Smithsonian was, and b) that it was now at Harvard?
Haramundanis:No, not at that time, not at all. In fact, the first time I heard about the Smithsonian connection could be after I came back in 1958. I heard about it not from my parents so much as from a friend of mine, one of my high school friends who got a job at the Smithsonian. That ultimately is how I ended up at the Smithsonian, because my friend told me about it and said, ďTheyíre looking for people. Would you be interested in it?Ē
DeVorkin:Whoís your friend? Whatís her name?
Haramundanis:Her name then was Lorna Baxter; she now is Lorna Coppinger.
DeVorkin:Is she still alive?
Haramundanis:Oh, yes. She lives out in Montague, Massachusetts. Her husband is a professor at Hampshire College. They do something in biology; Iím not sure exactly what. We got married at about the same time. She might have married a little later than I, but we were both getting married at about the time when we both finished college. She wanted very much to go to Swarthmore because she could be with me, because we were very close friends in high school. And she ultimately studied Russian. She went first to the University of Vermont, but then it was too cold up there. So literally, I mean, thatís really what drove her to transfer. Then she transferred to Boston University and she finished at Boston University. Vermont is cold in the wintertime. Itís that Montreal Express that comes down across the border. It really is cold. I think I visited her once up there. In fact, we were both at Middlebury College one summer together.
DeVorkin:When you took a language.
Haramundanis:Yes, exactly, itís a good experience, the language school. Perfect experience. Really wonderful. So, thatís when I heard about it. There might have been some word about it. In fact, the big excitement, I remember, in 1957 was when the Sputnik went up. Then, of course, we were all running out in the evening going to look and see it, coming across the sky. Thatís when I was at school. It was obvious that this was a whole new world that suddenly opened up.
DeVorkin:Sputnik was Russian.
DeVorkin:Did that somehow resonate with you? I donít mean politically or anything, but just in terms of what you can do? In other words, the Russians now all of a sudden, in the public mind, take on a whole new cast.
Haramundanis:Well, I had always had a kind of different view about the Russians than most of the public, because apart from the connection with my father, one of the things that troubled me a lot personally was that during the war, the Russians and the Americans were great allies because we were fighting this horrendous evil. Somebody said, ďThe wickedest regime that ever was.Ē And then suddenly, they were the enemy, and I couldnít make this out. I was saying, ďWhatís going on here?Ē So it was a great thing when suddenly the whole world was saying, ďWell, the Russians have actually done something good. Theyíre not just another evil Empire,Ē or whatever it was. I always had, for a long time, a personal goal to get the United States and the Russians back together again. I donít know if you call it political, but just somehow cooperating rather than being enemies. So I had hopes that maybe this might help that, but that was it. This was a completely personal thing, and itís a kidís ideal. So thatís what it was for me. It wasnít because I had a Russian connection and knew some Russian that then I would do something with it.
DeVorkin:But with Sputnik coming over, did this change your ideas at all about what you wanted to do in life?
Haramundanis:No, not really.
DeVorkin:Then what did you want to do in life?
Haramundanis:You see, at that point, I wasnít really sure because I had studied Russian, and I recognized that what people with this expertise do is teach Russian. I had read by then a lot of Russian literature. In fact, as part of these books that we got from England, I think among them was a copy of Dostoevskyís The Brothers Karamazov. That, to me, was a defining moment when I read that book because it said a lot about Russian culture, and it also said a lot about the people, how they interacted. Some of it is just people, people are that way; but some of it is the Russian culture. I didnít feel that I wanted to teach Russian. Somehow it wasnít sufficiently interesting.
DeVorkin:Thatís not what motivated you in learning the Russian.
Haramundanis:No, right. So I was kind of up in the air, really, about a career. I, in fact, had planned to go to Berlin in a graduate program at the free University of Berlin. I was accepted there, but I donít think it takes a lot to be accepted there, or it didnít at that time. So I had planned to do that. But then through my younger brother and my parents, I met the man whom I married.
DeVorkin:That answers that question. He wasnít at Swarthmore?
Haramundanis:He was not, no. He was at Boston University, where my younger brother was also a student.
DeVorkin:What is your husbandís full name?
Haramundanis:His name is John. Itís pretty simple. Then the long last name that everybody has trouble pronouncing. The fascination for me with John was partly him personally, of course, but he was Greek. Heís a very unusual Greek, actually, because I have met many Greeks. In fact, one of the people who was, you could say, an influence on me when I came to work at Smithsonian was George Veos, who also was Greek. But thatís just a coincidence. So the whole story with my younger brother, was that he had a number of impacts on me in my life, and this one like most of the others was not intentional, of course.
DeVorkin:How did he know John?
Haramundanis:They were both at Boston University, and Peter was there because he had gone for a year with my father, who was observing at Mount Stromlo in Australia. That was the Ď56/í57 year, I think. When he left, Peter was in the 10th grade in high school, and he went to high school in Canberra. When he came back, he was so much more advanced, for the coursework he had taken, than 12th grade high school in this country, that they said, ďOkay, go for a year to Boston University, and then you can be admitted to MIT.Ē Somehow or other, he applied and whatever, and this was their recommendation. Thatís why he was at Boston University. He went therefore, and he met John. In fact, he introduced himself to John because John was Greek, because my brother was having a dispute with my father about some Greek letters. It sounds obscure, but itís true! There are a couple letters in the Greek language that were in the ancient script, but are now gone — the digamma or something like that; I can never remember exactly which ones they are, but there are two of them. Peter had a particular idea about this, and my father had another idea, and so Peter went and approached John because he found out he was Greek. They had the discussion and Peter was right, and so Peter said, ďOkay, come to my house and tell my father.Ē And they developed a friendship. Then I was there for Christmas because it was school vacation, and thatís how I met John. We just hit it off, and that was that. It was great. Weíre soon to be married going on 50 years. Yes, so itís been quite a trip.
DeVorkin:What does he do?
Haramundanis:Well, heís retired now. He was a mathematician, but he never was an academic.
DeVorkin:A mathematician, but not an academic?
Haramundanis:Not an academic, no. He studied mathematics, basically.
DeVorkin:What did he do with it?
Haramundanis:He worked in several different jobs. Actually, he worked briefly at Smithsonian. In fact, he was doing orbit calculations, and he worked in the same office with Yoshihido Kozai, and they became fairly good friends. In fact, Dr. Hagihara, who was Kozaiís professor I think, had a great respect for my husband because my husband has a lot of maturity in terms of his understanding of mathematics and physics. But he never got a Ph.D., so he could not become an academic. He worked for a computer company, Honeywell, and wrote some of their math subroutines that theyíre still using today where you have Honeywell machines. He worked for the Haystack Observatory for a while doing orbit calculations. At that time they were trying to map the moon with radar, and it was still a very inexact science at that time. It may not seem like a complex thing, but I remember they got an ephemeris from the Naval Observatory, and John analyzed it and figured out how they did their rounding, which I thought was pretty clever. He worked for a number of years for General Electric. He was in charge of a group that did computer programming and solved some problems for them. He got prizes for what he did. They had a major problem in parts inventory, because they put together these jet engines that are made up of thousands of parts, and not all parts are numbered but some of them are, and when they disassemble one, they have to know where the parts go. Itís a major problem. Itís a mind-boggling problem, but he solved the problem. They were very pleased. [Laughs] So anyhow, thatís his area of expertise. But heís retired.
DeVorkin:So you came back here in í58. You had already met John. When were you married?
Haramundanis:We were married in the last couple months before I finished college.
DeVorkin:So came back here married.
DeVorkin:What were your plans at that point?
Haramundanis:Well, I wanted him to continue on in school, but we financially needed to work, so we both went out to get jobs. Thatís when I heard about the fact that Smithsonian was hiring people from my high school friend.
DeVorkin:So this was the spring of 1958.
Haramundanis:Yes. Thatís correct.
DeVorkin:Okay. So you heard that the Smithsonian was hiring.
DeVorkin:Knowing you had a Russian background, admittedly that didnít keep you from applying, but did you think — What was your friendís major? You said it was chemistry?
Haramundanis:No, she also studied Russian.
DeVorkin:Oh, okay. So she was working. What was she doing?
Haramundanis:I think she was a secretary in the group. When Sputnik went up, as you undoubtedly know, there was a plan to do satellite tracking by the Americans. I think Dr. Whipple had been part of the motivation or the guiding force behind that, so they had developed these Baker-Nunn cameras to do this satellite tracking. I believe the plan was that they — I donít think they knew anything about Sputnik, but they had planned that there were going to be American satellites that they were going to track with these cameras. There was one that was [about to be] operational when Sputnik went up, so they started taking some photographs of it at that time. There was a small group that was set up to analyze these photographs and calculate the orbits. So they got this camera running and took some photographs, and that basically started the program. Dr. Karoly Lassovsky was the scientist in charge of the orbit calculations. Must have his name, somewhere.
DeVorkin:Let me see in this book here. Satellite tracking. Well, it might be a different section. The observational program was McCrosky. This is from 1958. Kenneth Morrison, Leon Campbell, Richard Adams, Dan Shaw [?], Alan Hynek, George Van Biesbnoeck. But thatís satellite tracking program. That could be the observational side. These are the spreadsheets. Oh, thereís another group. No, thatís í59. Lassovsky? I donít see it. Hereís George Veis, differential corrections program.
Haramundanis:I understood that Dr. Karoly Lassovsky was in charge of the computations that we did. When I was hired, in fact, I believe it was Dr. Henize who hired me. He interviewed me. So he must be in one of your programs somewhere. And it sounds like those are all people who were directly connected with Harvard.
DeVorkin:No, this is SAO divisions.
Haramundanis:Okay, but I think most of the people you mentioned were not just SAO people. They also had Harvard connections, and I donít know that Lassovsky — For example, another man was Imre Izsak. [Listed in the SAO/NASA Astrophysies Data System; student of Karoly Lassovsky in Budapest; died 1965 (at a meeting in Paris)]
DeVorkin:Yes, yes. His name comes in.
Haramundanis:But he was not doing the observational work. Oh, you found him!
DeVorkin:Lassovsky, Karoly Lassovsky, satellite positions and brightnesses.
Haramundanis:There you go.
DeVorkin:Yes. That comes in in 1961, his name appears. See, this in the directorís annual report, and itís only if a name came up. So Lassovsky, you worked for him. Was it in satellite positions and brightness determination?
Haramundanis:Yes. What we were doing is measuring the satellite trails — they were on film — and then reducing them. We used these calculators. I think theyíre Monroe or Marchant calculators. I think the reason, actually, that I was hired was because I had done some data reductions for my parents one summer when I was in college. That was part of a summer job. I had been doing these data reductions, so I had some familiarity, and I knew trigonometry and so forth and algebra. Thatís what you needed to do that job.
DeVorkin:Yes. They werenít looking for Ph.D. mathematicians.
DeVorkin:So Karl Henize was running the program, or at least he was one of the major people involved. Did you interview with anyone else other than him?
Haramundanis:I donít remember, but I certainly remember interviewing with him, yes.
DeVorkin:Okay. So I take it you started working in the fall or summer of í58?
Haramundanis:Yes. Iím not sure exactly when, but it was in í58 sometime.
DeVorkin:Where did you actually work?
Haramundanis:There was a building on Garden Street. Itís down a couple of blocks from here on the corner of one of the streets. But it was an old building on Garden Street. It might have been demolished right now with Radcliffe expanding its dormitories. This was down towards Harvard Square a couple of blocks.
DeVorkin:SAO was taking over and renting or moving from one building to another. There was a lot of that going on.
DeVorkin:Okay. What was the atmosphere for work like? Was there anything special?
Haramundanis:Yes, it seemed like it was exciting, new things that were going on. It was a very positive atmosphere. Iím not sure my mother was that happy with the Smithsonian and doing all this work suddenly because it meant potentially that there would be less interest in the kind of work that she was doing. But the whole idea, I think, was there are a lot of new things happening here. Itís wonderful that weíre having this type of scientific work starting up. It was basically a whole new world in terms of here we have these artificial satellites and weíre trying to gather new information based upon the results that weíre getting. So it was a good, positive attitude, I think. Everybody felt pretty much the same way.
DeVorkin:I take it there were a good number of people in there.
Haramundanis:There were a number of people, yes.
DeVorkin:Was it an industrial atmosphere? Well, itís hard to say since you hadnít had a work experience at this part.
Haramundanis:Not really, yes.
DeVorkin:But working on an assembly line.
Haramundanis:I never felt of it that way. One thing is we were a little bit crowded. It was an old building. It wasnít really set up for office activities. So I think, for example, in one room, the room where I worked, there were four desks put next to each other so that we were like a big rectangle. That was where you could do your calculations with the calculators, but also you had to do measurements that were in a measuring room that was a separate room.
DeVorkin:So you did both.
Haramundanis:Yes. We had to do both.
DeVorkin:Was it set up so that you would carry through the complete reduction from measurement to calculating from one set of plates?
Haramundanis:Yes. Well, they were films.
DeVorkin:Was it like you were reducing your own satellite data?
Haramundanis:Well, no, not really. There were so many satellites eventually that you couldnít keep track of them from that point of view. One of the things that was fascinating as time went on was the large number of stations all over the world from which these films came. The films were big. I think they were like 55-millimeter and we would put them on this measuring engine — I think a fully visible satellite was six dashes, because there was a rotating shutter in the camera that would cut the light periodically. I canít remember, maybe you had to measure three of these six, or something like that, and then do your reductions.
DeVorkin:Did you measure the beginning and end of a dash? Or the space between the dash?
Haramundanis:I donít remember. You had to position the cursor, I remember.
DeVorkin:So the measuring machine had a cursor.
DeVorkin:It wasnít a simple vertical line that bisected.
Haramundanis:That might have been what is meant by a cursor, and I canít remember that.
DeVorkin:Or was it like a circle with a cross? Or was it a full line?
Haramundanis:I canít remember that detail.
DeVorkin:Okay. Do you look through an eyepiece?
DeVorkin:So it wasnít a projection, or you werenít looking at a screen.
Haramundanis:No, I donít believe so.
DeVorkin:I believe these were Mann measurements.
Haramundanis:That is correct. I remember Ed Weston, who was in charge of the machines. I remember he used to put around these pie plates with water in them set near the machine to show that the building where we were situated was too close to heavy traffic, because as trucks would go by, the water in these pie plates would wobble. He was always trying to tell the people who were managing the organization, ďWell, this means that you canít get accurate measurements out of these machines.Ē
DeVorkin:Did he have a rule that you only measure when you can see, letís say, your reflection clearly or something?
Haramundanis:He didnít ask for that. I think at that point, he was trying to convince people that they needed to move the machines to a more stable environment. We were on the second floor of an old wooden building on a busy street, and that was his point. I know eventually, after we had both worked the Smithsonian for a few months, John decided to go back to school and we went to California for a year. So there was a break in time, and by the time I came back, they had moved to another building called the IBM building, which is down on Broadway in Cambridge. That, I think, provided a more stable environment for the machines. But in any case, I think it was Ed Weston who made the contribution to ensure that people understood how unstable that particular environment was for the kind of measurements that they were trying to get us to make.
DeVorkin:Right. It seems, from a publishing record, that you took a leadership role eventually in this kind of data reduction.
Haramundanis:Yes, I did a fair amount of it.
DeVorkin:Yes, because you were one of three authors, and on a good number of them, starting the ďCatalog of Precisely Reduced Observations.Ē At least, I found Report No. P-3, P-4, P-5, that all were in 1962, Special Report 91, 95, and 102. These are precisely reduced observations of different satellites. Is that correct?
DeVorkin:How would you describe your role? Because you started as a measurer and computer, I guess, among 20 other people, 15 other people?
Haramundanis:Yes. I think originally there were like a dozen of us, but later on, there were a few more.
DeVorkin:How did this lead to you being one of the published another?
Haramundanis:Itís a good question. Part of it possibly had to do with the fact that I went away for a year, so things changed while I was away that I didnít know anything about. At that time I didnít know I was coming back, and eventually we did come back into the Cambridge area. Again, I applied for a job and got it. I went back into the data reduction group, but there had been a lot of changes. As I said, they moved from the building where they were before, and also, the people who were administering the people who were doing data reduction had changed.
DeVorkin:Was there a lot of turnover?
Haramundanis:Yes. Well, there were a few people who were left that had been there when I left. I think, in fact, there was some resentment when I came back, because people felt, ďWell, she left. She shouldnít have come back,Ē or something like that. It was kind of weird, but I didnít really care that much. I just kind of noticed it. But it was more noticeable, and this is a little bit weird. Dr. Veis came into the picture. I donít know exactly how it happened. But there were so many reductions coming in, and there were people administering the day-to-day work of the program, but there were a lot of backlogs. Things were not getting completed on time. The scientists needed the data. They werenít getting it when they needed it, so there was this kind of thing that seemed to have been happening. I was just working as a measurer, having returned in 1960, I guess.
DeVorkin:You went to work part of í60?
Haramundanis:I donít know. Or maybe it was even í61. Well, it was probably late. Yes, maybe like September, October, something like that. In that timeframe, I think the man who was the administrator in this new IBM building I think was Pedro Kokaras. One of the people he had who had, in fact, been there when I had left, one of the measurers and sort of in charge of the measurers, I think, was Hajin Kim. But these are not scientific people; they were just people doing the measurement-level work.
DeVorkin:Their names arenít coming up.
Haramundanis:If this is obtained from the directorís reports, it probably would never be mentioned. You might find them in the payroll records or something like that, but that would be it. So after I had been back for a while, not very long, actually, I was asked to organize the observations so that we could determine what the backlog was and what ones needed to be done. In other words, just to put better organization on them so the scientists could get a hold of the data more quickly, more efficiently.
DeVorkin:Was there anything in your background or training or work experience that made you suitable for that?
Haramundanis:I have no idea. [Chuckles] Probably not. In fact, that was always something in the back of my mind that maybe Iím being asked to do these things simply because Iím my motherís daughter. Iím sure it was a factor, particularly where Dr. Whipple was concerned. I saw him very rarely, but he always seemed very friendly to me. So I suspectedÖ But I donít even know if he was involved at this level of detail. No clue. Anyhow, it was really Dr. Veis who asked me would I be willing to do this, and I said, ďYes, I would.Ē And then I did it and I got things organized pretty readily and it wasnít really a big problem. But one of the things that had been said when I was asked to organize, because there were lots of these observations, that two or three people would help me. I asked the administrator who were the people who would help me, and he said, ďIím going to let them volunteer,Ē but nobody volunteered. So I had to do it myself. One day, Dr. Veis came by — because he wasnít working in the same building, he worked somewhere else; I donít know where his office was — he saw me there with these piles of data and doing it myself. He said, ďYou know, I didnít expect that you would have to do it yourself.Ē I said, ďWell, itís okay.Ē I had dealt with it. It was fine, but it was kind of weird not to have other people volunteering. But thatís why I said I had the sense that there was resentment, the fact that I was who I was, because everybody knew who my mother was.
DeVorkin:But you took your husbandís name.
Haramundanis:I did. Absolutely, and I never made a big deal about the fact that she was my mother. It just sort of got around. I mean, I didnít hide it.
DeVorkin:The first one, there were three authors: you, L. Simons, and P. Stern. Can you tell me who they were?
Haramundanis:Linda Simons was also one of the women who was a measurer; Phyllis Stern, another woman who was also a measurer. And they were friends of mine from work. I kept in touch with them even after we had all left the Smithsonian for a while, but I donít know where they are today. Linda I think got married while she was working with us, and eventually, she moved to another town and didnít continue. Phyllis lived in Belmont for a while, and I think she was never married, but they were nice ladies to work with.
DeVorkin:During this period — well, if you can differentiate it. In the early period, in your first year of working, were there ever any real emergencies? Like, ďWeíve got to get this orbit. Weíve got to get something from this. Absolutely imperative.Ē Working 24 hours a day kind of thing.
Haramundanis:No, I donít think so. We ran into that at the Celescope Project, but I donít recall that that was an issue with the satellites. The satellite program was more, ďThereís this ton of material coming in. We have got to get it out as fast as possible.Ē There was no one specific one that was needed for a particular thing.
DeVorkin:Were they ever using the Baker-Nunns for any kind of triangulation? Or was that all the Baker Super Schmidt [?] programs?
Haramundanis:Triangulation of what?
DeVorkin:Of re-entry orbits.
Haramundanis:I donít remember doing any analysis for that at all, so no, I suspect not. One thing that did come up, and I donít remember exactly when it was, was that there was there some use of the films for studying some stars that might have been caught — I think flare stars that might have been caught on the film. Len Solomon was an astronomer that was particularly interested in this area. I knew him briefly. I think heíd be in your list somewhere because he must have workedÖ
DeVorkin:The name is familiar.
Haramundanis:Yes. he went to work later at Itek. I donít know where he is now. He could be retired by now, too. So I remember having some interaction with him around his need for that information, but it wasnít like a crucial, ďWe need to have it tomorrowĒ kind of thing. It was just, ďIs it there?Ē or something like that.
DeVorkin:There was a point of being able to pinpoint the re-entry of Sputnik 4.
Haramundanis:I donít remember that.
DeVorkin:That may have well have happened the year you were gone.
Haramundanis:When did that happen, the re-entry?
DeVorkin:It was early Ď60s.
Haramundanis:It could have been when I was away, yes.
DeVorkin:Okay. I donít see his name at this moment.
Haramundanis:But I remember him fairly well.
DeVorkin:Oh, there he is. Len Solomon, radio flare stars. Exactly. Jodrell Bank was a collaborator. CSIRO. Yes, that was actually under ďStellar ObservationsĒ by 1963.
DeVorkin:So you had those first three catalogs, and then you started reducing this to the FK4 system. This is already í66.
Haramundanis:Right. In my time at the Smithsonian, there were three periods. The first was the satellite tracking program, then there was the star catalog/star atlas activity, then there was Celescope. Those were the three major areas where I worked. So by whatever that date is, I had moved out of the satellite tracking program to work on the star catalog, because doing these reductions through the FK4 system wasnít part of the tracking program.
DeVorkin:But those were still for satellite positions. This is ďSystematic Corrections to Reduce Certain Satellite Positions to the FK4."
Haramundanis:Then youíre right, it was still part of that.
DeVorkin:But it was more astrometric kind of work.
DeVorkin:Did you have to read up on astrometry?
Haramundanis:Quite a bit. There were two people who helped me there. One was Dr. Veis, and the other one was Heinrich Eichhorn.
DeVorkin:My goodness, he was there?
Haramundanis:Well, yes. He was a consultant and he came periodically. In fact, I think I learned more from Eichhorn in the specifics, what was necessary and so forth, than I did from Veis. Veis was basically, I think, in charge of what he needed for the geodetic programs, and Eichhorn was the consultant who helped to get everything onto a uniform system. So it was Eichhorn, basically, who gave me the information that I needed and gave me reading material — various catalogs that described how the various systems were done and so forth.
DeVorkin:Right. In this 1966 publication, which is ďSystematic Corrections to Reduce Certain Satellite Positions to the FK4 SystemĒ of which youíre the sole author, they said in the abstract that prior to the observation date of September í62, all precisely reduced positions of artificial satellites were reduced with star positions from a large number of inhomogeneous star catalogs. Of course, anybody knows what a problem that is, and Eichhorn is also the one who is well known for being able to put together these different frames of reference. So you learned how to do that from him?
Haramundanis:Yes. He was the driving force there. He was a fabulous person to work with.
DeVorkin:To your understanding, what was the reason for gaining more precise positions?
Haramundanis:Well, it was the systematic errors that were the problem. They couldnít get the orbits accurately if they didnít have everything on the same fundamental system. That was the key. For the first time, we had satellite observations that were worldwide, and the star catalogs that had been created over 150 years or so had all been done by individual observatories. Each observatory had its own. In fact, if you think about the Yale zone catalogs, each one of them was in a zone, and each zone had different systematic corrections needed to move to one main or master coordinate system. They adopted the FK4 system, but the FK4 system, unfortunately, is only about 1,500 stars. Itís a very small number of stars.
DeVorkin:Itís a visual system. Yes.
Haramundanis:Right. And so you have all these catalogs; I donít remember, I think there was something like 30 different catalogs that we used, because it was not only the requirement to have positions, but you also (for the SAO program) had to have proper motions. That, of course, greatly reduced the number of stars that you could have for your satellite observation reductions. So that was the first problem, trying to get everything on exactly the same coordinate system.
DeVorkin:Who would you say is responsible for laying down the law? That there had to be this coherent catalog and saw that it got done?
Haramundanis:From my perception, it was George Veis. But surely, other people like Dr. Whipple knew about this requirement, but whether or not they would have pushed for it, I donít know. Obviously, it had to be important for the geodetic work.
DeVorkin:How aware were you of the importance of geodetic work?
Haramundanis:I hadnít any idea about it in 1958, but by the time I had been at the Smithsonian for a while, I understood how crucial it was. Basically, I learned it from people like Veis, and then later on my older brother was connected with the observatory. So it was sort of by in direction that I learned those, not by having done any scholastic work that supported it.
DeVorkin:At any point, were you aware that there were uses of this that were classified?
DeVorkin:Nobody talking quietly about this? ďNo, you better not go and look at that stuffĒ? Nothing like that?
Haramundanis:Never had that of it, no.
DeVorkin:Okay. I donít have any evidence either, but there was always that issue about Geodesy, and there still is.
Haramundanis:Well, I can see where it is because, of course, the military wants to know the details of everything in that regard, and of course with satellites today, they have tremendous power to do that. But in those days it was all science. Remember that 1958 was the International Geophysical Year. That was science! That wasnít spies, that was science. That was the great thing about it. So that was part of the impetus, that here weíre doing this and itís really for good scientific work. Thatís my family background speaking! [Chuckles]
DeVorkin:Letís talk about the SAO Star Catalog.
Haramundanis:Which is the next phase, right.
DeVorkin:So you would say that the SAO Star Catalog was first for geodetic positions?
Haramundanis:To get back to the fundamental system. Right.
DeVorkin:Yes, getting back to that. I understand also that the star catalog had application for Celescope as well.
Haramundanis:Oh sure, yes, for the identification of stars.
DeVorkin:Were you aware of Celescope during the Ď60s?
Haramundanis:Not really, no.
DeVorkin:So the different projects were pretty separate from one another at your level.
DeVorkin:So thereís no need to try to figure out what you knew about Celescope in the 1960s before you went into the data reduction.
Haramundanis:Right, I didnít.
DeVorkin:Iím just curious about the textbook. How did you come to write it with your mother?
Haramundanis:She asked me to participate in it, and I think she was getting a lot of pressure from her publisher to do a new edition, and she didnít really want to do it. She could have asked another colleague, but I think at that stage in her life, she was not feeling so comfortable with her other colleagues. Not exactly sure why. Maybe itís that she had this little jealousy thing that would sometimes rear its ugly head. It couldíve been that, or maybe she was intimidated by some of her other colleagues. I donít know what it was. I mean, I donít know who she might have asked is what Iím saying. For example, she could have asked Chuck Whitney. He probably would have been happy to work with her on it.
DeVorkin:I think anyone would.
Haramundanis:Right, exactly. But on the other hand, not everybody might want to do a textbook. It does take a fair amount of time, and sometimes people have other things they want to do with their working hours, so to speak.
DeVorkin:What did she have you do, actually?
Haramundanis:What she asked me to do was the part about the solar system. She wanted to do the part that was more connected to the stars and astrophysics and so forth, and that made sense. I was quite ignorant about astrophysics. I mean I read about it, but I had never taken a course in it or anything like that, and it does require a fair amount of pre-work to understand it well. I had tried taking some courses as I was doing this work, but I also had small children and all of this, so it was not so easy for me to go back to school at that time.
DeVorkin:Did you take any courses?
Haramundanis:Yes, I did. I took a course at Boston University. I took some math courses at Northeastern. My husband, I must say, was always very supportive in this, but it was a matter of more time and being able to expend the effort to do it. I just didnít have the cycles, is what they would say today, to do all of those things.
DeVorkin:What about Boston University? Who did you learn from?
Haramundanis:Michael Papagiannis was his name. He was the professor. I canít remember the name of the course. But I didnít do very well in the course, and later on I discussed this by accident with Dick Thomas, and he said, ďYou know, you jumped into the course without adequate preparation,Ē and I think he was right on that point.
DeVorkin:So you had a smattering, then. But then to go from there to the textbook, even with your illustrious co-author, is quite a jump.
Haramundanis:Right. Well, I read a lot and checked current literature. I mean, itís just the solar system. Itís not all the astrophysical aspects, which are more complex. At least to me, they were. Of course, she reviewed the material that I prepared and it seemed fine with her. But I think if you look at this textbook, you can see that the first part is really more by a junior author. At least I can see that.
DeVorkin:Would this be a good time to move into the Celescope?
Haramundanis:Yes, if you donít want to talk about the star catalog.
DeVorkin:Oh, I do. All right, I forgot.
Haramundanis:Okay. The sequence was the satellite tracking, the star catalog, and then the Celescope.
DeVorkin:Sorry. How did you make that segue? Was the work on the tracking reductions diminishing?
Haramundanis:I donít know that that was the case. I think that simply the organization had been established, and other people like Linda and Phyllis and so forth could take over. Again, this was where George Veis came and asked me, ďI would like you to do this piece of work.Ē Now why I was asked to do it, I donít know. I think they thought I could handle the organization of it.
DeVorkin:Because this was key to the next step in precision and everything. It was a very, very critical element here.
Haramundanis:Right, it was really important. It had been started before I became involved with it. There were a number of people, some of them astronomers, who were working on it.
DeVorkin:Was Brian Marsden working on it at all then?
Haramundanis:He hadnít even come to the Smithsonian.
DeVorkin:He was later in the Ď60s.
Haramundanis:He came later, yes. I remember a woman, Joan Sears, who was an astronomer. I think she had an undergraduate degree in astronomy, but Iím not sure about that exactly. She was involved. She is cited in the introduction to the catalog, so her name is certainly there. And there had obviously been other people. A key programmer on the project was Mary Havelock, whose meticulous work was fundamental to its success, in my view. As I said, the work had begun, and I do not know when it started because there are so many catalogs. It was all eventually on punched cards. I mean, some of it was still being punched, I think, when I became connected with it. But I think, again, it was a little bit like the satellite observations, that the work was piling up and not getting done simply because it hadnít been organized to move it along efficiently. So it had already begun, but I think a large part of it was not that they didnít understand what had to be done, but organizing it so that it could be done. One of the things about the star catalog was that there were certain requirements. For example, you had to have the accurate star positions, you had to have proper motions, and double stars were supposed to be excluded, which in the long run caused a problem for the star atlas, which came later and was kind of an afterthought, because those stars were removed from the SAO catalog.
DeVorkin:So the catalog came first, which is a listing. This was an actual map.
Haramundanis:That is correct. Yes, two different entities. So the problem was dealing with the catalog material. Some of the material came to usÖFor example, the Yale zone catalogs, I think they came already punched on cards. But some of the southern hemisphere stuff didnít. We had to get them punched on cards. Southern hemisphere was the biggest problem because they were the fewest number of observations — basically only two observatories. Ensuring that you were matching the stars correctly was not always obvious. So there were a number of issues with the southern hemisphere.
DeVorkin:Did you have any contact with Ida Barney or with any people at Yale?
Haramundanis:I did not personally. I really relied on Dr. Eichhorn to handle that area because he was the one with the knowledge. I mean, I wasnít going to call somebody to ask about a specific star. I wasnít going to do that.
DeVorkin:But handling the data, however. Were all the punch cards completely compatible? Or was that somebody elseís problem to make them all readable?
Haramundanis:Well, the punch cards had fields that were well defined. And the data for each star was entered twice, these compared for example 6, to ensure accuracy. I think there were a couple of programmers who were handling the actual physical reading of the cards by the machine and then delivering lists of what was actually on the cards. I did a lot of work comparing things to be sure that the results we were getting were what we expected in terms of, ďThese are the right stars. Weíve got all the data in the right positions.Ē Particularly when we had overlap — If you had different catalogs that were supposedly looking at the same stars, we had to verify that in fact it was the same star, there were no typographical errors or things like that. So there was quite a lot of that kind of thing that was my responsibility. The issue with the double stars was also one of the things that had to be checked for, because not in every case did a catalog indicate if something was a double star. In fact, I think that was one of things that had stymied the people who were working on the catalog before I arrived as to how to decide what is a double star.
DeVorkin:Did you solve that?
Haramundanis:Well, I just made some rules about it. If itís marked as a double star, you remove it. If you have a literature reference thatís later than the catalog that it is a double star, you remove it. We had to be pretty ruthless about it. It just required a lot of specific looking at things to find that out.
DeVorkin:The first appearance exclusive of the SAO star catalog as a separate project actually comes under ďStellar Observations.Ē This is in Whippleís rationalization of where each project would go at the end of the year.
Haramundanis:What was being done, yes.
DeVorkin:Right. Iíve been told by other people that that rationalization didnít mean much.
Haramundanis:It may not. I donít know.
DeVorkin:It looks like it first showed up in his yearly reports in 1959.
Haramundanis:Oh, that would make sense, but it sounds actually a little late, considering the fact that they had been planning to do the satellite tracking and they had to develop the Baker-Nunn cameras. That had to have taken a while.
DeVorkin:They must have thought that this was needed at some point.
Haramundanis:Right, but itís questionable when.
DeVorkin:We wonít get it from this listing, but by í63, there are three people on this project: Dr. Veis, Len Solomon, and you. So youíre identified with this. The money came from the Baker-Nunn tracking project, which is no surprise.
Haramundanis:Sure, it would be connected with that. Yes, of course.
DeVorkin:So thatís where that work begins. Now, did you report directly to Dr. Veis?
Haramundanis:Itís a good question. No, probably to a Smithsonian Administrator.
DeVorkin:What was your working relationship with Solomon?
Haramundanis:Solomon was an Astronomer associated with the project. I did not have interaction with him about the systematic corrections to be applied, on which I worked with Dr. Eichhorn.
DeVorkin:He was also doing radio flare stars at that time, so this was one of the many things he was probably doing.
Haramundanis:Yes, itís interesting. No, I reported to someone else who must have been an administrator. There was an administrator in all of these projects, and Iím trying to remember his name now. I can visualize him.
Haramundanis:No, not Leo.
DeVorkin:You knew Leo?
Haramundanis:I think I did. Bob Gibson (for SAO star catalog). Maybe I have it wrong. I can visualize him, but I donít remember his name. Yes, an administrator. Except for Dr. Davis, I didnít report to a scientist. In those first two phases of my SAO existence, I reported to administrators. I thought of them as NASA administrators because it was all NASA. Well, NASA contracts — it was all NASA contracts. My checks had ďSmithsonian InstitutionĒ on it, but from my perspective and the reason the Smithsonian had money for these programs was because they were getting money from NASA.
DeVorkin:Did you feel that this was an academic activity, intellectual activity, an industrial, or what?
Haramundanis:I thought of it as scientific. But it wasnít industrial and it wasnít academic with a few papers as an exception. There was no academic environment in the sense of teaching and students or anything like that; it was doing scientific work. Thatís why Iím saying the concept of the IGY was an important motivator here, the fact that they had this International Geophysical Year when everybody all over the world was taking observations. I mean, the countries were all doing it. It was an international effort. These things that we were doing were the follow-on for that.
DeVorkin:Did you have any connection or any identity with the Smithsonian at this point?
Haramundanis:I thought of it as, yes, part of the Smithsonian. For example, in my star catalog period, I visited the Smithsonian several times, so I knew there was a strong connection there. I stayed with Charlotte (Moore) and Banny Sitterley, who lived in the DC area and who were close friends of my mother. They were very kind to me — and I learned the righting ale [?] at their home for the first time.
DeVorkin:Was that an official visit?
DeVorkin:Who did you see and what did you do?
Haramundanis:Well, it was largely during the production phases of the catalog, when they were actually creating the films, to print the book. They had a machine in Washington that would produce film that was sized directly from the computer tapes that we provided. I had to look at every page of that book to be sure that it was all legible. They didnít have any machine to do that; a person had to do it. That was part of my job to do that.
DeVorkin:So you went down there to do it.
Haramundanis:Yes, I went down there to do it. But I met somebody, and I donít remember his name now, at the Smithsonian, that physical building. This machine was a very particular kind of film-producing machine. I think this was the first time they had ever used the machine to do such a large publication of data type. In the Introduction to the SAO Star Catalog, this is called a computer-recorder that took the SAO Catalog on tape, displayed its data on a cathrode-ray tube that was photographed on page-sized film.
DeVorkin:This was actually a Smithsonian machine? Or something with the contract?
Haramundanis:No, it mustíve been a contract thing. I donít believe they would have owned it. Actually, I think the operation was at the U.S. Coast and Geodetic building, because I remember going into their map room as I was going to visit this machine.
DeVorkin:Thatís quite appropriate.
DeVorkin:I see. Thatís something I can figure out. There could have been an official relationship that made that facility available at some reduced rate or probono or something.
Haramundanis:Whatever it was, right. Exactly. So there was that connection because that was the way that they managed to produce that catalog. I mean, it would have been crazy to typeset it — you couldnít do that. If you look at the catalog, it has bars, lines, and rules on it, and those were displayed by the machine, and that was part of the task, to be sure that those lines did not cover any of the numbers, in which case they had to readjust the machine. So there were those details.
DeVorkin:So it could, actually.
Haramundanis:It could screw it up, yes.
DeVorkin:So that mustíve been a non-digital raster or some sort of grid.
Haramundanis:Exactly. Youíre right. So you had to be sure about that.
DeVorkin:I tried to find out about that, because thatís another interesting part of the whole program. My understanding is that the Smithsonian star catalog was the first comprehensive digital star catalog.
Haramundanis:What do you mean by ďdigitalĒ?
DeVorkin:Produced by a computer.
DeVorkin:Well, the atlas was.
Haramundanis:Yes, but the atlas also had hand activity in it.
DeVorkin:Oh, it did?
DeVorkin:Were you involved in the atlas?
Haramundanis:Yep. I can tell you about that when we get to it.
DeVorkin:I donít know of any other catalog — Really, the important thing about the SAO catalog, though, is that itís a uniform system.
Haramundanis:The uniform coordinate system. Absolutely.
DeVorkin:Did you present any talks about it or attend any meetings about it where the SAO catalog was discussed?
Haramundanis:No, I donít think I ever presented on the SAO catalog. [This is actually a faulty recollection. I presented a paper at the catalog, with Dr. Eichhorn in the audience, and defended it in a question-and-answer session at the end. The presentation was at a conference in 1966 called ďThe Construction and Use of Star Catalogues ConferenceĒ and the paper I gave was published in the Astronomical Journal, Vol.72, No. 5 pp.588-596. The paperís title is ďExperience of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in the Construction and Use of the Star Catalogues.] When the catalog was done, I had originally written a brief introduction to what it should be, but I gave it to Dr. Veis and he changed it completely — basically wrote something completely different. My name is mentioned along with other peopleís names who were not really involved in the endgame of the catalog. So I thought, ďWell, this is kind of strange.Ē But he certainly knew more about the details than I did.
DeVorkin:So you felt a little bit left out?
Haramundanis:By that time, I had been looking at the history of star catalogs a lot. I had read I canít tell you how many star catalogs, and seeing what had been happening to the computers, and the women who had been working on catalogs, some of whom actually disputed the fact their names were not on the title page with the scientists whom they reported to.
DeVorkin:Who were they?
Haramundanis:Oh, gosh, I couldnít remember now. But there were a number of catalogs, not all of them positional catalogs. But some of the catalogs were produced here within the observatory in the 19th century, and there were lots of those. Somewhere I came across the case where a woman had basically created this catalog, and the scientist that she worked with wanted to have his name on the catalog and not hers at all, and she disputed it. Iím not sure she got satisfaction.
DeVorkin:Was that Antonia Maury?
Haramundanis:It might have been, but I donít remember. I certainly know of Maury, and my mother spoke of her with great admiration. It might have been Maury.
DeVorkin:She was one of the few who had any sort of independence and who would have done that.
DeVorkin:It was very true that the director put his name on everything in the culture at that time as well as at the observatory. It wasnít unusual.
Haramundanis:That is correct.
DeVorkin:But those things continue today. As you mentioned, Rosalind Franklin.
Haramundanis:Yep. Thereís another one.
DeVorkin:These kinds of situations. There are a lot of unfortunate inequities like that.
Haramundanis:Right. Anyhow, I felt a little weird about that, but I said, ďOkay, fine.Ē I just let it go. I liked Dr. Veis a lot. He was a really nice person to work with and so forth, but I just figured itís just the way it was. I wasnít there to prove my scientific value. I was just trying to do the right thing in terms of preparing the correct information.
DeVorkin:Were you gaining an associative sense of being an astronomer or being part of astronomy in this activity?
Haramundanis:I certainly felt that I was part of astronomy. I never really felt myself an astronomer, even though I had published a number of things in astronomy for two reasons. One, I donít have a degree in astronomy, and second of all, my mother was an exceptional astronomer, and how can you compete with that? You canít. Pretty difficult.
DeVorkin:Was there any time in your life when you thought you had to compete with your mother in any way?
Haramundanis:Probably often! [Laughs]
DeVorkin:In what way?
Haramundanis:Doesnít a child always compete with their mother? I mean, a girl to compete with her mother and a boy compete with his father?
DeVorkin:Oh, I competed with my father.
Haramundanis:Yes, sure. So I think that.
DeVorkin:Lost to him miserably. [Laughter]
Haramundanis:Well, yes, and I suppose all children have that experience. I didnít consciously compete with my mother, but I recognized, by a couple of things that happened between us, that she felt the competition was there. But it was this jealousy thing with her. I think her being a first child — I canít psychoanalyze her really, but her sister told me she was incredibly jealous of her. Itís just the way it was. My mother did have this jealous streak sometimes against her colleagues. I mean, her colleagues noticed it. I think my mother was a little jealous of the affection my father had for me. She was certainly not jealous of me astronomically; that would be impossible. But Iím just talking about as a feeling that you have sometimes.
DeVorkin:Okay. The star catalog. What was the single most difficult technical aspect of building that star catalog, from your perspective? Or were there a suite of technical problems under an umbrella that you can describe?
Haramundanis:Being sure that the systematic corrections were accurately applied. That was the biggest problem.
DeVorkin:How were you sure about that?
Haramundanis:There were tables produced for eachÖTake the simple case, the Yale zone catalogs. Each one had a table of systematic corrections that you had to apply to reduce it, in fact, in most cases, to the FK3 system. Then because they were done over a long period of time, before the FK4 system had come out, when it did we had to make that additional correction to the FK4 system. The only way to check is to take individual objects and compare them after having made the corrections and you see to it that they come out to be what you expect. They tell you in the zone catalogs how to apply the corrections and what the result is youíre supposed to get. We had to ensure that the computer programs we were using to do this, in fact, gave us the result that they told us to, and to do that for every catalog. It was a matter of going through it multiple times and being sure that the results were what we expected. This was a key area where Chary Havelockís skills were so important. She and I started with the published tables, she programmed the corrections, and I verified the results on individual star spikes. The tables to sample each sky area.
DeVorkin:Now, this was a matter of no small importance in astronomy in the late Ď60s, but I personally remember various people like Rupert Wildt at Yale. I donít know if you know that name.
Haramundanis:I certainly know the name, but Iím not familiar with his work.
DeVorkin:It was more a theoretical side. But being absolutely astounded, and almost acting insulted that the systematic errors between the northern and southern hemisphere were as bad as they were in, letís say, declination or something like that. I remember this in í68 and í69, and this is before the SAO star catalog came out. Were you aware that it was a growing sense among astronomers who paid no attention to astrometry that the astrometry wasnít up to the task ofÖ?
Haramundanis:No, I was not aware of that. We relied on, well, basically, Dr. Eichhorn as being the one who was fielding this area and ensuring that we were doing the correct thing by applying the corrections that had been established. But of course, there was always this big question, even in my mind, about the fact that the FK3 or FK4 is such a small number of stars, and you are extrapolating that to a quarter of a million stars. You canít be sure. I mean, thatís the real answer.
DeVorkin:Iíll try to rephrase my question. Did you realize that you were trying to do something that had never been done before?
Haramundanis:I did understand that. But again, you see, thatís where Dr. Eichhorn was crucial, I think, to that whole effort. That he was able to, I guess you could say, assure the program that yes indeed, this is going to improve what we had — even though it may not be perfect, itís going to improve what we had. Certainly, it had to improve what we had because the shift from one zone to another was quite radical. There were some really big differences.
DeVorkin:I remember this being an issue in that time at which when I was student at Yale. It was one of the big issues that people were arguing about.
Haramundanis:And they said it couldnít be done? Or they said it shouldnít be done?
DeVorkin:No, they said it should have been done a long time ago. The people saying that were people who didnít have any connection with astrometry, with fundamental astronomy, or anything like that. They were basically theorists or people like that.
Haramundanis:I became very interested in astrometry at that point. In fact, on one of my trips to the Smithsonian, I went over to the Naval Observatory. We were using something from them. But in any case, I wanted to see what the Naval Observatory was like and met some of the people there whose papers I had been reading and so forth, and that was a nice experience.
DeVorkin:Who did youÖ?
Haramundanis:I donít remember.
DeVorkin:Kai Strand, (the Director).
Haramundanis:He would have been there, and Iím sure I met him, but I wanted to talk to, and I did talk to, some of the people in the catalog division. I just donít remember now who they were.
DeVorkin:Okay. You had ďInformation Bulletin for the Center of StellarÖĒ ďStudiesĒ or ďDynamicsĒ or something. 1973. Thatís one of the catalogs available from SAO in machine-readable form.
Haramundanis:Oh, right. Thatís just a summary. If people wanted to get magnetic tapes, they could get magnetic tapes.
DeVorkin:So you were sending these things around on magnetic tapes.
Haramundanis:We started with punched cards of all the catalogs. In fact, there was a room like this size with racks. Like this whole wall was just full of punch cards.
DeVorkin:In this room, youíre talking about a rack 12 feet long by 8 feet high?
Haramundanis:Yes, it was big. There were a lot of cards.
DeVorkin:This is already 1973. I know there were some cassette tape storage and stuff like that.
Haramundanis:This was our source data. We didnít punch it out. Our results were on a tape, but the source cards were punch cards.
DeVorkin:But would you provide tapes to other observatories?
Haramundanis:I donít remember now. Probably, by that time, itís very likely. (The correct answer is yes, we provided tapes of the catalog, not cards)
DeVorkin:Okay. How would you then describe the star catalog? In the history of astronomy at the Smithsonian, how important do you think it was overall?
Haramundanis:Thatís a bigÖyou know, the history of astronomy at the Smithsonian! My understanding of the Smithsonian, which I learned after I came to work at the Smithsonian — we called it the ďSmithsonian Astrophysical ObservatoryĒ in those days, SAO.
Haramundanis:Probably. I guess it was Abbot who had spent decades working on the solar constant. He and maybe five or six other people. That was what they did. They really didnít do anything else. Then when Whipple became director of SAO, he completely changed the focus of what the observatory was doing. The star catalog was important to the geodetic program, but because we didnít do original observations, we didnít do original astrometry with meridian circles and all of this stuff ourselves, we were really just compiling and reducing to a common system observations that other people had spent many years or many decades doing. So it was crucial for the satellite work, the geodetic work to get a better handle on the geoid, basically — the physical shape of the Earth and other things. But primarily, it was the geodetic work, as I understood it, that the star catalog was to be used for. That was its great value. Thatís why, as I said, astronomically, it was a good thing to do, but we didnít make an original contribution there because we werenít making original observations.
DeVorkin:Is that how you felt about it?
Haramundanis:That was the way I felt about it, yes.
DeVorkin:I should think that reducing everything to a common frame would beÖwell, itís revolutionary, considering that those frames had existed for over a century.
Haramundanis:Well, thatís an interesting way to look at it. I guess I thought people, because they had the information to do that, could have done it before. Therefore, we werenít doing something that was original.
DeVorkin:Thatís an interestingÖyes.
Haramundanis:Itís just a perspective.
DeVorkin:But itís a good one because of what the Smithsonian allowed Harvard astronomers to do, which was not have to do everything as original, basic science.
Haramundanis:Thereís a good point. As I say, because I did perceive it as something crucial for the success of the geodetic program, well, thatís an important contribution. But I guess my perspective about science is that the strength of science is new observations. But of course, there are a zillion observations out there in the world that nobody has ever reduced adequately, and —
DeVorkin:You can see the problem right here.
Haramundanis:Well, right there, and Iím even thinking about the Celescope data. Thatís a whole other story.
DeVorkin:But weíre going to get to that.
Haramundanis:Yes, weíll get to that eventually, and of course, Iím projecting my own opinions about science here.
DeVorkin:Thatís what this is for!
Haramundanis:Thatís what this is about. Right. So thatís what Iím saying. I saw this as so crucial for the geodetic program, but because we werenít making new observations, I didnít see that it itself was therefore a new contribution. Just a perspective.
DeVorkin:Very interesting perspective. Thatís maybe one that I really will quote you on.
Haramundanis:No, thatís fine.
DeVorkin:Weíll get to that. Okay. Building the atlas, you said there was a lot of handwork. But as far as a decision to do thatÖ
Haramundanis:Iím not sure about that.
DeVorkin:It was a decision to do that.
Haramundanis:Yes. I probably, maybe better than anyone else, know the deficiencies of the atlas. Maybe not better than anybody else, but it does have deficiencies.
DeVorkin:So how was it done?
Haramundanis:Iíll tell you in just one second. Again, this is a case where although I worked importantly on that piece of work helping to design the process for making it happen, I did not get to write the introduction to the star atlas. Joe Ashbrook — whom, actually, I had known as a kid because my parents knew him. He was connected with Sky and Telescope, and they were very close with the Federers for a long time, who were, of course, on the Sky and Telescope — was asked to write the introduction for that. I would suppose that Dr. Whipple had something to do with that, but Iím not sure. Again, I felt that because I had been doing the work and didnít have this degree in astronomy or something like that, that I wasnít being asked to do that. I felt, again, it was part of my ultimate motivation to leave the Smithsonian, because I felt I can do this work, but I get, basically, no credit for it, and that didnít seem right to me. Well, I was getting a paycheck, thatís true; but still, thereís something going on there that I didnít feel comfortable with. But with regard to how the atlas was created, we had this catalog of stars, and the criteria for selecting those stars was known. At least, it was certainly known to me the fact that, in particular, the double stars had been deleted from this catalog. I do not know who made the decision to make an atlas out of it. I wasnít privy to that decision. Somebody said one day, now that weíre done with the catalog and it was all printed and published and all of that and everybody was very happy with that, ďNow we have this on tape. Letís make an atlas out of it.Ē Donít know whose idea that was. Could have been Veisís idea, but Iím not sure. It might have come from where else. But so now was the problem: We have all this stuff reduced. How can we get it onto film in some way? Or we want to put it together so that we can produce these printed charts. So I thought about the problem and recommended that we use an automated plotter —
DeVorkin:Cal-comp of some sort.
Haramundanis:Right. To print on, I think they were sheets of mylar with stamps for each of the different star magnitudes. I canít remember how many there were. Ten or twelve or something like that. Although the printing of this plotter was not dark enough for making a photographic copy, because if you have carbon paper and then you stamp on the carbon paper, you get an imageÖ
DeVorkin:On the top of the carbon paper. (Actually on the paper behind the carbon paper)
Haramundanis:Not a very bright, really dark, black image. Itís a little on the grayish side. That was the technology that was available to us. This plotter couldnít draw adequately, so there was a wheel that, in fact, was designed specifically for this purpose; a wheel with different-shaped objects on it so that you could tell the difference between the different stars, the different magnitudes. So it would automatically position itself and rotate the wheel and go bang and so forth like that.
DeVorkin:A daisy wheel or something.
Haramundanis:Yes, right. It was a wheel. But then, the images were not dark enough to be photographed. So I suggested that we useÖin those days, they used to do hand lettering with a template.
Haramundanis:Yes, that kind of thing. So they designed the LeRoy templates with all the different star magnitudes (we had them made just for this purpose). Then we had half a dozen girls come in and ink them. They would recognize the symbol that had been plotted on this sheet, center their pens in the center of the plotted image, and then ink it with black ink. It was really a manual operation. Now, each chart was formed out of four of these Mylar sheets, and they were fairly large. They were about this size (36Ē x 36Ē). It was the Coast and Geodetic Survey that photographed them for the printing, and they had to put them up on a wall. Then they had the big cameras that they could use to take these very large, combined images to make the print that was then finally in the printed book, which is about that size (13Ē x 16Ē). But because of the manual operation and because of the double stars being removed, there were some inadequacies in the final result, so that stars that people expected to see were not there.
DeVorkin:I remember that clearly. But didnít some of the double stars get put back? Not at all. So it never contained them.
Haramundanis:Never contained them, right. That was one of the rules in the original design of the SAO star catalog, that double stars should be removed. And we did not replace them although we added many non-stellar objects.
DeVorkin:I think this is why, making finding charts for various projects, we couldnít use the SAO atlas for finding charts.
Haramundanis:Yes. So I donít know, as I said, where that decision was made to make the charts. I think people were just enthused about the technology and they said, ďGee, weíve got this catalog on tape. We should be able to do something with it.Ē It was that kind of thing.
DeVorkin:How many copies were sold?
Haramundanis:I have no idea.
DeVorkin:How was it reviewed?
Haramundanis:I never saw any reviews, so I donít know. Somebody made a comment to me once many years later about the problem with finding stars that were really there but were not on the charts, and I knew immediately they were talking about these stars that we had removed! Thatís why Iím saying if it wasnít mentioned in the introduction — somebody shouldíve mentioned it.
DeVorkin:Yes, I should say. Was it published by Sky and Telescope?
Haramundanis:It has a Smithsonian logo on it. Absolutely, yes, Iím sure thereís a copy here. I think the Smithsonian would have a copy. They might not.
DeVorkin:Just as a quick aside, this being part of the Smithsonian, the library up here gets all the astronomy books, and they donít lend to us.
DeVorkin:I use the Naval Observatory. Thatís my primary library.
Haramundanis:I wonder if they have a copy. They probably would have no use for it.
DeVorkin:No, theyíve got everything. Itís an incredible library.
Haramundanis:Yes. I would have liked to work at the Naval Observatory.
Haramundanis:Yes, I would have loved that.
DeVorkin:So you liked the atmosphere?
Haramundanis:Very much. Dr. Strand was very welcoming. This was just after the catalog had been published, actually, that I visited there. So they knew about it and they were very kind.
Haramundanis:It was a very nice environment.
DeVorkin:Did you see the library, by any chance, when you were there?
Haramundanis:I think I went by it, but I donít think I went in because I was talking to people, and so I didnít actually go in to see anything. There might be a reason for me to go there, but I donít know — Is it open to the public?
DeVorkin:You can, but by reservation. You have to know that you can get it. They donít advertise the fact. Certainly, anybody with a background in astronomy can get it, but they have to call the librarian.
Haramundanis:But I should have asked them because I have been looking for an old almanac. I donít know if they would have it.
DeVorkin:You should ask Owen Gingerich. Heís sitting on more almanacs than I have ever seen in my life in his basement.
Haramundanis:Oh, in his basement?
DeVorkin:Personally, yes. Okay. Is there anything else about the star catalog or the atlas — yes, there is one very important thing. By inference, you had indicated that you were received very warmly down at the Naval Observatory. Was there not that warmth up here?
Haramundanis:No, I wouldnít say that. Itís just that I was surprised.
DeVorkin:They treated you as a colleague.
Haramundanis:I guess, yes. Maybe thatís what I felt. Well, of course, I didnít interact that much with the astronomers here because of the work I was doing. I wasnít working in other areas. I was doing things that were quite specific to what the Smithsonian needed, I guess you could say.
DeVorkin:Did you or your other colleagues in the areas youíd work in go to Coloquia or any of the astronomy activities here?
Haramundanis:I, by and large, did not participate in them. I think certainly someone like Len Solomon would have done so, but I did not.
DeVorkin:Okay. Was that because of your family background association, or that as a worker here it wasnít accessible to you?
Haramundanis:I think I could have gone, but I hesitated for two reasons. One, the work seemed really important, and spending significant amount of time in colloquia seemed inappropriate to me. But also, even though it may sound funny, I didnít want to lean on family connections. I was paid to do a job, and I felt thatís what I should be doing rather than enjoying the academic atmosphere that I was not really part of.
DeVorkin:Okay. Can we move on to Celescope?
DeVorkin:Was it the publication, first of all, of the catalog and the atlas, and then the job was done?
DeVorkin:So you were looking around for something else to do, I guess.
Haramundanis:I must say somebody else must have been thinking about it for me, because again, I think in this case Dr. Whipple called me into his office, which he didnít usually do. I saw him quite rarely. I certainly knew him; he was always very friendly to me. But we didnít interact on a periodic basis or anything like that. He was the director. I knew him well. I felt comfortable talking him, but I would rarely go to his office or anything like that.
DeVorkin:Did he call you Kathy? Or Mrs. Haramundanis?
Haramundanis:He never called me Mrs. Haramundanis. Iím trying to remember whether he called me Kathy or Katherine. A lot of people, particularly my English friends, call me Katherine. My mother called me Katherine. Itís possible that Dr. Whipple called me Katherine, but I canít remember for sure. Could have been Kathy, but simply called me by my first name, not by my married name.
DeVorkin:Do you go by Kathy?
Haramundanis:At work, yes, but as I said, my English friends, even at work, they call me Katherine.
DeVorkin:Oh, they do?
Haramundanis:Yes. Itís kind of weird. Itís fine. Itís a cultural thing. My husband calls me Katherine. He would never call me Kathy.
DeVorkin:Okay. Somehow, I heard of you and read about you and other people talked to you in terms of — somebody even said ďKatieĒ once, and itís definitely not ďKatie.Ē
Haramundanis:George Greenstein once called me Kate the first time I met him, which was actually quite recently. Weíve had some correspondence. He called me Kate, but nobody calls me Katie. As my mother used to say, you can call me anything, but just donít call me too late for breakfast!
DeVorkin:Actually, that raises a point. Did you have breakfast together as a family?
Haramundanis:Might be on Sundays, but certainly not during the week. My mother was always sleeping, and my father was the one who got us off to school. It was just rush, rush, rush, and often we were late, we missed the bus and he had to take us.
DeVorkin:Going way back again, and this is totally out of order, but just one question. Did you have any parent-teacher conferences? And if you did, did both your parents go, or just your dad or just your mom?
Haramundanis:I donít remember any parent-teacher conferences. The big thing for me, particularly, I noticed it when I was in high school. I think I didnít notice it very much when I was in grammar school. It was my father who attended the school events and my mother was never there. She didnít even come for my high school graduation, which grieved me a little bit. I said, ďWhat is this?Ē But it was just her work was too important. That was really the mantra. That was the way we saw, or at least I saw it. It might have been different with my brothers. Iím not sure.
DeVorkin:Okay. Interesting. So letís move on then. So Whipple called you into his office. Can you remember the meeting and what he said?
Haramundanis:Very little of it except that he called me in and said that he would like me to take on this task, and that was to work on the Celescope project with Bob Davis. I think in this case, I reported to Davis. Actually I worked with Davis and had a reporting relationship to Bob Ayer, an Administrator. This was a project that, for Whipple, was apparently very important. I knew almost nothing about it. I had heard that the satellite was going to be launched, but I didnít know hardly anything more, and it was an ultraviolet satellite. I think it was the first ultraviolet satellite at the time, and he just wanted me to work on it. That was it. I have thought later that he might have wanted me there to make it easier for him to get my mother onto the project which did [?] lazer to her dismay.
DeVorkin:That was launched in very late í68. Does that mean that he actually talked to you about it while you were still working on the Baker-Nunn stuff and the star catalog and that sort of thing?
Haramundanis:The Baker-Nunn stuff, once I moved on to the star catalog, I was no longer connected with. I didnít have to do multiple jobs; I did one thing at a time. The publication date of the SAO Star Catalog is 1966.
DeVorkin:You were working on the star catalog in Ď68.
Haramundanis:Iíve forgotten what was the publication date of the Star Catalog. What do you have there?
DeVorkin:Various aspects of it were 1970. Yes, but í70 to í73, you have the comparison of the SAO star catalog. By the way, this is only a printout from the Astronomical Data Service. Are you an author of the star catalog? It may not appear in here is all Iím saying.
DeVorkin:So youíre not an author of the star catalog. Joe Ashbrook or somebody like that.
Haramundanis:Well, thatís the charts — Ashbrook is the charts. I donít know if there was a formal author of the star catalog. Iím among the list of names in the introduction to the star catalog. So maybe you donít have it there.
DeVorkin:Nope, I donít. So Whipple called you into your office before the launch.
Haramundanis:Yes, it was definitely before the launch, because I remember the preparation for the launch and in the first pictures we got from when the satellite was launched. Dr. Deutschman at that time was at NASA. Iím not sure if Iím remembering this correctly. In Washington? But he was in charge of the tapes that were being written as the launch occurred, you know, when the launch occurred, then they were streaming down data, and he was in charge of the work that was to get the information onto the tapes, and then send the tapes up to Cambridge. Then eventually, he came up to Cambridge. This thing was still operating, and he moved up to Cambridge — he was an astronomer — to work with Dr. Davis and the rest of us.
DeVorkin:The very first publication that you have is í72, and I think it was an abstract. It must have been an abstract of the talk. ďIntrinsic Ultraviolet Colors in the OAO-2 Celescope Observations, the Astronomical Observatory.Ē Thatís you with your mother — thatís a joint publication.
DeVorkin:Could you sort of walk me through what your role was in the data production culminating, letís say, in this paper?
Haramundanis:In that publication, right. Okay. As I said, I got into the project, initially, mostly working directly with Dr. Davis, getting prepared for the launch and what we were going to do when this data came in. Dr. Davis had expended an enormous amount of energy creating a catalog of reference material for a large number of stars that he expected we would observe. I think they were identified by BD number or something like that — several different kinds of numbers. The Smithsonian catalog was used as a reference catalog for identifying the stars. There were several people working with him at that time, I think under his direction, as programmers designing and creating the computer programs that would take the observed information from these four cameras and then identify them with an approximate RA and Dec Right ascension and declination, and get some accurate positions out of them from which then you could identify the specific stars.
Haramundanis:Yes, exactly. Thatís what itís called. There were several programmers, two or three. One of them was Dan Zubli. There was a woman there; Linda Kirschner; maybe her name will come to me. But in any case, they had already been working with Davis for some while in designing programs for doing identification, and they worked reasonably well.
DeVorkin:So this was primarily star identification.
Haramundanis:Yes part of the process that they had devised was not only to do this identification by pattern matching within the computer system, but also to print a somewhat crude plot of the star field as projected by the Celescope camera. In other words, youíve got these four cameras. They didnít all give exactly the same results because they were all slightly differently positioned.
DeVorkin:There were different filters.
Haramundanis:Exactly. So their field in each case was not identical, so you couldnít rely on one to match up all the others, which complicated the star identification part significantly. Part of my job, basically, was organizing the material that came in — in this case, the multiple camera observations. Then we had a rough match-up with the catalog stars, which would give us coordinates and star identifications, and then examining to be sure that in fact, it looked correct. So that was a visual comparison with the plot, and we had plots of the actual camera pictures as well. Thatís a visual activity, but greatly assisted by the computer, of course.
DeVorkin:Was this a process that once you got into a certain routine, it became easier to do? Or was it always difficult?
Haramundanis:It was always difficult. A lot of it was the filters. The filters were a problem for two reasons. The way the filters were placed across these cameras was, there were four cameras, and each one had two filters, and there was light leakage. This is really crucial for the star identification. So that if you had a star that was reasonably close to this dividing line between the two filters, it would leak over into the other filter, obscuring the star field.
DeVorkin:So half the field was one field, and the other — I mean, two different filters.
Haramundanis:Two filters on every camera.
DeVorkin:Do you know why they did that?
Haramundanis:I have not a clue. But it turned out to be a big problem.
DeVorkin:Surely, there was a good reason for it. But for reduction, it sounds horrible.
Haramundanis:I think the reason was, and in fact, it turned out they were right, is that they wanted to get information in four different wavelengths. If they lost one camera, they would lose information from an entire wavelength. In fact, they did lose Camera 2 immediately. It was totally blasted. I donít know the reason for that, why that happened.
DeVorkin:The Schwarzschild telescope was about this long.
Haramundanis:Oh, itís long, but the cathode or the tube is only about 55 millimeters. And it was divided in half by the filter. But what he wanted to doÖand Iíve forgotten what the field of view was, actually. What he decided to do was to print on paper the star field that was observed. When it was printed as they designed it, the printouts were so large that for one camera, you basically had to hang it up on the wall. It was huge — it covered the whole wall. Then when we saw this first Camera 2 that had been damaged, almost the entire thing was black. So it was just destroyed. You could get no observations from that camera whatsoever.
DeVorkin:When you have half a filter here and half a filter here, it means that the star images are a production of both of these filters combined.
Haramundanis:No, because for example, U1 is the bottom half and U2 is the top half.
DeVorkin:So they were in the focal plane. The filters were in the focal plane.
Haramundanis:They must have been.
DeVorkin:Of course. Yes, theyíre in the focal plane. Thatís right. So half of the cathode is getting one filter, and the other half of the cathode is in the focal plane.
DeVorkin:Iím completely up with you now.
Haramundanis:I didnít understand the question.
DeVorkin:The question was goofy. I thought it was in front of the primary mirror.
Haramundanis:Oh, yes. No.
DeVorkin:Sorry. My apologies. Okay.
Haramundanis:In any case, to make these identificationsÖwell, we used the computer to get us a first cut at the star identifications, and then we just had to visually verify them. A lot of the time they were fine, but there were a lot of cases where it was ambiguous, particularly if there were a group of stars that were fairly close together.
DeVorkin:And there were certain fields selected, primary ones.
DeVorkin:The protocol, as they first described it, was you start in the middle, and then you slew slightly into about a fraction of a degree, and then you keep slewing out in a spiral pattern until you cover this entire large field. Then the clue was to get it all together into a star catalog. Does that sound right?
Haramundanis:I donít know. I thought that the intention was to cover certain areas of the sky. Whether they did it in spirals, I donít know. I donít remember that detail.
DeVorkin:That would be part of your team for field finding?
Haramundanis:No, because we would always start with an estimate that the computer had made about what the center of the field was.
DeVorkin:On each separate exposure.
Haramundanis:On each one, yes.
DeVorkin:In a galaxy, you had thousands and thousandsÖ
Haramundanis:Lots of them, yes.
DeVorkin:Yes. Okay. You had four cameras, minus the one that blew up. So you had three cameras, or essentially, six fields, six different filters left.
Haramundanis:Right. I donít think we discriminated in the field pictures that we had between the upper and lower halves of the filters. The identification of which filter depended upon the coordinates within the camera.
DeVorkin:So each filter was a separate field unto itself.
Haramundanis:No, the whole thing was the field we used for identification, but each filter, in terms of the ultraviolet magnitude that we got out of it was defined by the location within the field of the camera. So we would know, okay, this is the Ultraviolet 1 Field. Or the magnitude thatís for this star is U1 and the magnitude for this star, which is in the bottom half, is U2. That was done automatically. We never had to switch that around or anything like that. We made the assumption that once we had verified that the field was indeed these six stars, or whatever it was, then we simply used the field, as defined by camera coordinates, for determining which ultraviolet wavelength it was. So that was done automatically. We didnít actually verify that that was true. How could you verify it? Youíve got an observation. Youíre making an assumption about the coordinates of the camera.
DeVorkin:Right. Were you in the position of having to evaluate the colors? Did you eventually carry through the analysis to the actual colors in each of the different filtered band passes?
Haramundanis:Not sure what you mean by ďcolors.Ē
DeVorkin:You have all of these band passes, and you have magnitudes for each one of the filters. To get a color, you simply subtract one magnitude from another, like B minus V, U minus V, and then thisÖ
Haramundanis:Well, yes and no. The big issue with the ultraviolet magnitudes that we obtained was the calibration. There was a gentleman, Yashi Nozawa (Dr. Nozawa), who was responsible for doing the calibration. He had done a lot of lab work. We were working in a building thatís down on Alewife Parkway, and the computer system was downstairs, and he had a lab in the back there, I think, where he was doing various tests. I donít know the details of what he did, but I remember that he was doing a lot of analysis, even as the satellite was launching. I felt uncomfortable about this because I was saying to myself — how are we still doing calibrations when this thing is launching? Itís like there was a disconnect, but Iím ignorant in the details of what he was doing.
DeVorkin:So Yoshi Nozawa was in charge of calibration. A Japanese man? And there was a laboratory?
Haramundanis:Yes, he had some kind of a lab. I never went into his lab, so I donít know exactly what was there. But I know that he was working on some of the existing tubes. These Uvicons tubes. Thatís, in fact, how I got one eventually. There was one that was just going to be scrapped, and I said, ďWell, Iíll take it as a memento,Ē or something like that.
DeVorkin:We got the others, I think.
Haramundanis:Yes, I bet. [Chuckles]
DeVorkin:You described Davis as sort of having a quiet intensity?
Haramundanis:He was very intense, and I think because he felt tremendous responsibility for this project. He had been working on it for quite a while, as I understood it. I didnít really know the history of it.
DeVorkin:So you hadnít followed all of the problems and the delays through the Ď60s.
Haramundanis:I had heard of them roughly, but it was just something that was happening. It wasnít an area that I was directly connected with, and I never thought that I would be connected with it. So I just heard about it in a really peripheral way. But as I say, Davis, I think, felt tremendous responsibility for this project and was really anxious that it should be done successfully. I donít know. I think in general he wasnít that forthcoming when he felt something perhaps needed to be changed or whatever. I think he warmed up to me a little bit. He was pleased with the work that I did for him. I remember once Nancy Roman came to visit, and that was, of course, after the launch and after we had been producing data for a while. Davis asked me to attend a meeting where she came, and Dr. Deutschman was also there because by this time he had arrived. I donít think Dr. Nozawa was there, but Iím not absolutely sure. As I said, we had these really large charts of star fields, and I had had (Iíve forgotten exactly how) some of them reproduced at a very small size so they were much more manageable. This was something that was helpful to me when I was checking this star field or the others, whatever it was. I showed Dr. Roman some of these as I was describing what we were doing —you know, the identifications we were making and so forth. Afterwards, I remember Deutschman said to me very angrily that I had taken his idea or something of making them smaller, but I hadnít at all. It was just something I had thought of doing. So I didnít have that good a working relationship with Deutschman.
DeVorkin:Thatís too bad.
Haramundanis:Yes, it was too bad, because in a lot of ways, he was extremely energetic. Enthusiastic astronomer. But he had a very brusque way to everybody, not just to me.
DeVorkin:What about the accuracy of the data? The calibration problems, of course, theyíre well known to exist. When did you become aware that there were problems?
Haramundanis:I think I knew, first of all, when one camera failed so drastically that there was something really wrong for that to have happened. But I never really understood why that happened. Somebody suggested, and I donít remember where this came from that the camera may have been turned on too early or too vigorously or something like that, and that caused it to fail. But then why didnít the others fail?
DeVorkin:Yes, the initial turn on sequence, which I found the record for, and everything seemed to work okay in the first ten or twelve hours, but the record doesnít go beyond that.
Haramundanis:For that camera or for all the cameras?
DeVorkin:Well, it didnít indicate that any of the cameras had any problems. There was a C3 camera. What did the ďCĒ mean?
Haramundanis:Camera 3. ďCĒ is the camera. So it was C2 that failed.
DeVorkin:Yes. Well, it was C3 they were getting data from. They didnít say a thing. Iíll have to go back and look.
Haramundanis:We got data from all four cameras, but Camera 2 was destroyed right away. We continued to get data from the other three.
Haramundanis:Okay, so maybe youíre saying the first ten hours, only one camera, Camera 3, was giving data. Well, thatís fine. That could be.
DeVorkin:They were testing. They were waiting for the out gassing to take effect, and then they started turning on systems slowly and carefully. I think it was C3 that they turned on first For some reason, and it was working okay. So C2 wasnít the one that was turned on first.
Haramundanis:Apparently not. I donít actually know the sequence in which they were turned on.
DeVorkin:Thatís what I remember. I think thatís what it was.
Haramundanis:Right. But anyhow, ďC,Ē in my recollection, just meant ďcamera.Ē It makes sense. So, calibration was one thing. Star identification was another because you could get the wrong star, then U minus B or whatever it is, is going to be incorrect. Deutschman often would comment that he thought many of the star identifications were incorrect. In fact, my mother eventually got involved in working with some of the star identifications. Sure, maybe our method was not perfect, but it was what we had.
DeVorkin:Now, calling in your mother on this, was this something —
Haramundanis:It wasnít my idea, but I suspect that Whipple got involved with that possibly because there was difficulty with the observational material. In fact, a lot of people were called in: My mother, Gene Avrett [?]ÖWas Rudy Schild involved? Iím not sure. Oh, I remember one guy who came, in fact was a student of my motherís, Andy Young, whoís atÖis he in California now?
DeVorkin:I know the name.
Haramundanis:And in fact, Dr. Lundquist was involved. He didnít actually work on the project, but I think Whipple might have asked him to sort of oversee some of the difficulties, because there were obviously difficulties. Andy Young came, and he had had a discussion, I think, with Davis and maybe Nozawa — Iím not sure, I wasnít there for that. But I remember sitting in a room with my mother, Andy Young, and Dr. Lundquist, and Andy was talking about how to do an analysis of the data to make it more consistent. It was basically a form of, maybe you call it back calibration or something, but a statistical analysis. My mother was horrified, and she walked out of the room. I have never seen her do that before. I thought he had some valid points. It was a struggle at this point to try to do a correct reduction of the data. So Andy was making some suggestions that could have been followed through. I mean, I think thatís why people like Gene Avrett and so forth were involved. I asked my husband for advice. He had some experience in doing reductions, like his work at Haystack and so forth. But Davis ultimately made the decision as to how to do what was done, and I am not privy to exactly how he decided to do it. Basically, itís how do you develop those ultraviolet magnitudes from the data you have? If you donít have good calibration, itís a problem.
DeVorkin:Yes. Were you in on how they found out that the calibration was not as good as they thought?
DeVorkin:Because the idea was to be able to produce a consistent map of the entire sky.
Haramundanis:But they never observed the entire sky.
DeVorkin:Or an entire part that they observed, right?
Haramundanis:Yes, of course. That would have been the desirable thing. In fact, my mother and I published one paper at the NATO Advanced Studies Institute in, might have been 1974, where we discussed the results and concluded that the errors were so large in the data that there was very limited information that you could obtain from these observations.
DeVorkin:There was an ďInterstellar Extinction in the Ultraviolet,Ē and that is in the NATO Advanced Studies.
Haramundanis:Oh, that must be it. Yes.
DeVorkin:Okay. Your mother is not on here.
Haramundanis:Oh, okay. Itís just me.
DeVorkin:Okay, and thatís 1974. Itís that paper?
Haramundanis:Yes. Itís pretty short, but it basically states the facts, which I guess I felt and she felt that other people were simply not stating. The data is so inaccurate that you really canít get what you thought you were going to get out of the data.
DeVorkin:Right. Now, your mother walked out of the room.
Haramundanis:In that case, right.
DeVorkin:Did you talk to her and find out why? Or is it obvious and I just donít understand it? [Laughs]
Haramundanis:I never asked her specifically, ďWhy did you walk out of the room?Ē But I knew how she felt about massaging data. That was the key for her. She had, so to speak, spoken about this very briefly to me beforehand that you have your raw data, and you have to use that raw data. Itís like taking ten observations and throwing away three because they donít fit your model. That was the crux of the matter for her, and she felt that this statistical analysis that Andy Young was proposing was basically doing just that.
DeVorkin:Did Andy agree with that by saying, ďWell, this is the best you can doĒ?
Haramundanis:I never asked him.
DeVorkin:That would be a reasonable question to ask.
Haramundanis:I think thatís basically what he was saying because I think everybody at that point was so desperate to get something reasonable out of this expensive project that was supposed to be so important astronomically that they were almost willing to do anything. I do not know how they resolved the detail of what do these observations actually mean. You know, what do these magnitudes actually represent.
DeVorkin:In my interview with Davis, I left that open for the time being.
Haramundanis:Oh, he didnít say?
DeVorkin:No. He certainly agrees there was this overriding problem, butÖ
Haramundanis:He does? Yes. Well, Iím sure.
DeVorkin:Iíd like to work toward it carefully and try to figure it out. I think youíve given me the answer of who to talk to, and that would be Andy Young.
Haramundanis:Yes, I would ask him. He might remember. The other person who might know is Dr. Lundquist.
DeVorkin:Right. Gingerich has interviewed him and we just found the interview. I donít know if Owen has asked him questions in that detail. Thatís what Iíll try to find out. He is in Huntsville, I understand.
Haramundanis:Thatís right. Huntsville, Texas.
DeVorkin:Not Alabama? Oh, Texas. So he didnít go down to Alabama?
Haramundanis:Yes, right. I would contact him ahead of time. I thought he was in Alabama, too, but I met him at the Whipple memorial service, and Iím pretty sure he said he was in Texas.
DeVorkin:I certainly will find out.
Haramundanis:Yes, because he and Andy and I and my mother, I think we were the only people in the room at that time.
DeVorkin:Those are the ones to talk to. Not Davis?
Haramundanis:I donít remember if Davis was there. Maybe he was. You would think he would be, but maybe not. It might have been just a fortuitous thing. Lundquist was involved because he, I think, wanted to get the problem solved. Andy was here for some reason. It could have been. I donít remember Davis being in the room. He might have been there, but mainly I remember, of course, Andy talking and then my mother leaving.
DeVorkin:But then the process was that somehow Andy Young must have — or someone advised Davis, and then Davis made the decision, but you donít know how he made the decision.
Haramundanis:I donít. I donít know whose advice he took, because there must have been half a dozen people who were giving him advice.
DeVorkin:Right. Iíll be going back to Davis, asking him these questions.
Haramundanis:Yes. Well, it would be useful to know.
DeVorkin:I had a very good first interview with him. So we gained some rapport, I think, discussing these things. I can rationalize now very much better why he was chosen by Whipple to head this project.
Haramundanis:Oh, you can?
DeVorkin:Yes. He had project management experience. He was quite familiar with electronics development. Not high-tech vacuum tubes, though. He had military experience.
Haramundanis:Oh, I didnít know that.
DeVorkin:Yes. He was a bit older than others — older in terms of his experience. And he had managed groups of people dealing with radio electronics in the Navy. That sounded like, in the way he described it, the kinds of things that one would look for in leadership.
Haramundanis:Yes. Sounds like heíd be perfect.
DeVorkin:He was on the only one who had project management experience in a Navy environment. My guess, at this point, is Whipple saw that this is what was going to happen eventually. And the other was that McCrosky and Whitney didnít want to do it.
Haramundanis:Yes. Iím sure.
DeVorkin:They didnít remember being in on the initial meetings.
Haramundanis:Oh, thatís interesting.
DeVorkin:Right, now I know they were there because Iíve been looking for correspondence, the records, and Davis had minutes of some of the early meetings — some very detailed minutes.
Haramundanis:You see thatís one of the things that in a way, you can say my mother talked about when the changeover came from a lot of government money coming in. People werenít so focused on doing astronomy. They had to work in this other area, and thatís, I guess, where I fit in because I wasnít really an astronomer. I could do this project management level stuff and the star identification kind of thing. It was easy for me. But other people wouldnít be willing to do it.
DeVorkin:Did you say it was easy for you?
DeVorkin:Was it easy because you must have a certain intrinsic capability?
Haramundanis:Well, it may be that, too. I canít say.
DeVorkin:You seem like a very intelligent person.
Haramundanis:Oh, thanks. Thatís very kind of you.
DeVorkin:And Iím not even exaggerating. Iím being very diplomatic.
Haramundanis:None of those things were difficult for me, and none of the things that I did were difficult for me. It was easy to, rather quickly, I mean, within two weeks. I never had a project at the Smithsonian that within two weeks I didnít have a complete handle on and know exactly what I needed to do. Thatís all it took for me to be exposed to, ďHereís the problem.Ē And I wasnít involved in the calibration area. I knew that was a wholly difficult problem, and I probably wouldnít have ever been able to solve that problem. I donít know. I certainly encountered many problems in life that I canít solve, but in terms of organizing data, which is basically all the things that I did that were involved with organizing a large amount of data, it seems like thereís a natural way to handle it, and it works. I canít really describe it any more than that.
DeVorkin:In the production of the Celescope catalog, could you walk me through how you finally decided that you were at the point where you could publish these magnitudes with some semblance of integrity that this is a coherent system?
Haramundanis:Of course, one step that was important was the identifications. I really put my effort there. That was always a process of checking and crosschecking. You never just do it once; you do it many times to be sure. One of the problems that we faced was that Dr. Davis had spent a long time, as I said, collecting reference information about a large number of stars. Youíll see in the Celescope catalog, which you donít often see in a catalog, a whole column of references, a large number of references for individual stars. I felt that was peripheral information, but he insisted that it was really crucial to the success of the catalog.
DeVorkin:The references are to other catalogs.
Haramundanis:That is correct. In other words, this star has been observed in these seven other catalogs or is included in these seven other catalogs. One or two would have been plenty.
DeVorkin:Or just the fact that you have an HD number.
Haramundanis:Yes. That should have been enough.
DeVorkin:You can find it out. The bright star catalog does that, but you were going way beyond the bright star.
Haramundanis:Way beyond right.
DeVorkin:You have what, 20,000 stars?
Haramundanis:Actually, I donít remember the number in the Celescope catalog. Yes, itís probably of that order. I remember very clearly the number in the SAO star catalog: 258,997.[Laughs] You can check me on that. [Laughs]
DeVorkin:Well, there were supposed to be 100,000 originally for Celescope, and it ended up to be 20,000 because the sensitivity was never up to spec, the various other problems. But then the calibration thing was a mess. The way I understand it was people realized that during the observation period, the tubes degraded, and the calibration was dodgy. (Note: There were 5068 objects identified from roughly 20,000 observations.)
Haramundanis:You didnít have enough points, basically. Right.
DeVorkin:What does that mean?
Haramundanis:Well, Iím talking about from the laboratory work. See, thatís where Nozawa came in. He was the one who was responsible for the calibration, what you could see and what would happen to the tubes. But I never actually saw a published paper that he produced.
DeVorkin:You mean that the tubes that flew were not fully calibrated?
Haramundanis:I donít know. I was never sure about that.
DeVorkin:But you noticed that something was odd, that he was still calibrating.
Haramundanis:He was still working after the launch.
DeVorkin:What was he working on?
Haramundanis:Well, you see, this is the problem. Maybe you can get some information about that from Davis. It would be nice if you could interview Nozawa, but I have no idea where he is today. He was an engineer. He was not an astronomer. He left Celescope at some point during the time when I was there and went off to do Japanese translations, something or other — something quite different. As I say, he was an engineer in any case. But it was like he was still trying to obtain data that was needed for the ultimate result to be final. Since I donít know what he actually did in the lab — I know he was working with tubes, and I know he was doing a lot of computer processing, but I donít know, in addition, what he was going.
DeVorkin:So they probably werenít the tubes that were flying.
DeVorkin:Iíll see what I can get. What I decided with Bob Davis is that I needed to be better prepared before I asked him these questions, because I had to know precisely what was going on. You helped me a lot, and also the archives have helped me.
Haramundanis:Have you talked to Dr. Deutschman? (Note: Deutschman published several articles about Celescope calibration — they are listed in Vol. I of the catalog. I enclose a copy.)
DeVorkin:No. Where is he?
Haramundanis:He left Celescope at one point towards the end. I mean, we all were kind of dispersing at that point. I think he got a teaching position in Oregon, but heís probably still in the Astronomical Society, so heíd be in the directory.
DeVorkin:Yes, heís probably retired at this point.
Haramundanis:I think he would be an important source because first of all, he was an astronomer, so he would be privy to conversations with Dr. Davis that I would never have been connected with. Certainly, he took a very strong interest in the results being as good as they possibly could be. So he would certainly know more details about all of this in terms of the technical information, assuming Davis shared that with him. I mean, thatís another question.
DeVorkin:But I feel that when Iím better prepared, it will help Davisís memory. Davis took detailed diaries. Every night he would write out everything, and he destroyed them.
Haramundanis:He did? Did he ever say why?
DeVorkin:At one point when they were moving, there were just too many books, and thatís what he chose to throw away. He told me this over dinner, so it isnít part of the interview or anything. I think I have to get to know him a little better.
Haramundanis:Yes. He can take a little getting to know. Heís a very reserved gentleman.
DeVorkin:Yes. His wife is extremely friendly.
Haramundanis:Oh, I never met her.
DeVorkin:And in fact, she is sort of a go-between in some ways. She draws him out. I interviewed her as well, together. Yes, that was a good decision.
DeVorkin:Okay. Now, give me a sense of how Celescope ended for you.
Haramundanis:Well, I was very glad to see the publication, and that my name was connected with the catalog because I had put a lot of effort into it. It was an honor to have worked with my mother. She, of course, was helping me a lot in understanding the real significance of the ultraviolet observations. Because I read up on it a little bit, but she helped me tremendously to understand that better. A lot of our discussions are really captured in that paper about the ultraviolet observations.
DeVorkin:Which one? The one where you are together?
DeVorkin:ďIntrinsic Ultraviolet Colors in the OAO.Ē But thatís just an abstract.
Haramundanis:Oh, thatís just an abstract. Right.
DeVorkin:Yes. Volume 4, page 331. Thatís the bulletin in the paper.
Haramundanis:Thatís in the bulletin, right.
DeVorkin:Well, you had these other articles, the one in the Interstellar Medium Proceedings.
Haramundanis:Right. It was her coaching, really, in the area of the interstellar medium that helped me to understand the significance. Because I hadnít really comprehended it. I may have had a vague idea, but no details. Obviously, her knowledge was crucial there.
DeVorkin:Did she hold you responsible for having this knowledge? Some people would be diffident that you would be doing something that you didnít have the training to do. Or was she very sympathetic?
Haramundanis:She was sympathetic, but I think she thought I knew more than I did know. Itís partly that I knew some things, but I couldnít articulate them in the trajectory that somebody might expect that sort of thing. I remember once, and this was after I had finished with Celescope, we had a conversation with somebody else. Iíve forgotten exactly what the scenario was, but this person asked a question, and my mother turned to me as though I would know the answer. I didnít really know the answer, so I gave a partial answer, and then we continued the conversation. As I say, I think she expected that I would have a little more knowledge than I actually did have. I had that kind of a sense for that.
DeVorkin:She didnít say, ďYouíve been given a terrible burdenĒ?
DeVorkin:She couldnít be that sympathetic?
Haramundanis:Not during my first years at the Smithsonian, but towards the end, I think she felt that I was probably really happy with the job that I had, and not understanding that I had other concepts of what was necessary in my life.
Haramundanis:Well, right — my family. I had certain obligations there that I couldnít just ignore. No matter how wonderful astronomy was and how fascinating the work was, I had other things that were crucial in my life, too. Maybe her age and whatever, she was focused on research. I mean, research was really her life. She didnít quite see that — well, she understood it eventually. But I think she was very bothered when I left the Smithsonian. She was very uncomfortable about that.
DeVorkin:Did she think that you at the Smithsonian, especially with the Celescope and your co-authoring a paper with her, that you would come back to the fold?
Haramundanis:I think her position was that I had arrived. Not that thereís anything wrong with that. I mean, thatís fine if she felt that way, but that wasnít how I felt.
DeVorkin:Oh, I was just going to say, itís a question of how you feel.
Haramundanis:Right. It wasnít how I felt. Well, my mother knew what she was. She was a wonderful person in many ways, but in this aspect it was what she would have wanted for herself and not so much what I wanted.
DeVorkin:Is it the right time to ask you about your decision to leave the Smithsonian?
Haramundanis:Well, sure. Itís about right. The Celescope basically finished. The project was over. I applied for a grant to do some additional work with the observational data from Celescope, but I didnít get it.
DeVorkin:Was that NSF?
Haramundanis:I think it was NASA. So I knew that was an important milestone. Because also, I had never before —
DeVorkin:So you said you werenít aware of overhead.
DeVorkin:Thatís actually very significant and interesting — you worked all this time, but this is your first grant that you actually wrote.
Haramundanis:Yes, exactly. Right. Because I had projected what it would cost, but there was an administrator who had to look at the numbers and so forth. It came back with information about how much I would have to add for overhead, and I was rather shocked at the amount. It was substantial. Some percentage, whatever it is, some big percentage. So anyhow, I applied and didnít get the grant. Then I think Dr. George Field was a director at that time of the observatory. I think under his auspices — And again, I didnít go to ask him, ďI need a job.Ē Somebody suggested, and so I think it was Field, or maybe it was Lundquist who asked me to do a particular task. Something about gathering a particular kind of spectroscopic data; I canít remember exactly what it was. So I started doing this, and about a week after I had gotten into it, I presented a report. I went to see George Field and he said, ďWe expected you would take a year to do this. Youíve done it in a week. So now weíre going to have to find something else for you to do.Ē Then I began to feel, well, this is not a healthy environment for me.
DeVorkin:Was this make-work?
Haramundanis:Well, I donít know if it was make-work or not. I canít be sure.
DeVorkin:So something they had allotted a year for, you could do it in only a week.
Haramundanis:Yes. Well, thatís what he said.
DeVorkin:Was he surprised?
Haramundanis:I think he was surprised, yes. So in any case, I decided — And I knew this NASA grants thing, you know, every year there was always the possibility that the NASA contracts would not come through. And I knew that was coming, and other people were being laid off, so I said, ďOkay, time for me to leave.Ē They gave me a severance package, because even though I volunteered, they already had said, ďWe donít know how long we will be able to keep you on the payroll.Ē So I decided to leave. I had a severance package, which was good because it took me quite a while to find a job.
DeVorkin:Did you have to work or did you want to work?
Haramundanis:I had to work. It was a financial thing entirely. I did Russian translations for a while on astronomy — into English. Then I got a job in the industry doing the kind of work that I do now, which is technical documentation. I worked for Wang Laboratories for three years, and then I went to work at Digital. Basically, Iím still with Digital. [Chuckles] It was bought by Compaq and then bought by HP, so now itís HP, but itís still Digital.
DeVorkin:How would you compare your work now, say, in technical documentation and other areas, with your work at the Smithsonian in terms of work environment, in terms of employment, a career? However you might think of it being.
Haramundanis:Well, thereís a big difference. The major thing is that in industry, and this was true at Wang and at Digital/Compaq/HP, you are valued for the specific things that you do. In the sort of moreÖwell, I donít know whether itís NASA contract or academic environment, you know, the more scientific world, you may not be valued for what you do because you may not get credit for it, as evidenced by some of the early things I did where for a while I got no recognition officially, so to speak. I mean, I got recognition from maybe people at Dr. Whippleís level. Itís a verbal thing, ďWe want you to do this work because we know you can do it reasonably well.Ē But being able to move along academically was not possible for me at that point. So I never really had a feeling about that being different. Industry, therefore, was a more comfortable environment for me. And industry (digital) paid Zoillingly for my MSe in computer science, something that was not available to me at SAO.
DeVorkin:Thatís quite interesting. Itís an interesting perspective. Certainly one that helps me better understand, from your perspective, the years you were at the Smithsonian. Because in a way, if I can say, you represent the workers — did you have that feeling?
Haramundanis:Yes. I donít feel that I was ever thought of as a scientist, although some people externally might think of me that way because I had published a few papers and so forth. Part of it might be me personally being a woman. I always felt the lack of training, that I didnít have a science degree, I didnít have an astronomy background. I mean, I had from my mother and my father, of course, but thatís not the same as going through the coursework and doing the labs and doing all of those things. You learn about your science by doing all those things, and I didnít have that, by and large. I took a few courses, but it was not preparation for a degree.
DeVorkin:In a way, you were catching up to the job.
Haramundanis:Exactly. I was precisely doing that. Right.
DeVorkin:Sometimes that can be the real motivator, but other times it can be kind of a nervous situation.
Haramundanis:Well, yes. I didnít feel nervous about it in the sense that I knew what I had to do for the particular work that I had to do. Nobody, for example, asked me to solve the calibration problem of the Celescope system. Nobody would ask me, but also, I would not have known how to do it. I knew that.
DeVorkin:I donít think it could be solved — it was beating your head against a piece of equipment that is not behaving right.
Haramundanis:Itís not doing what you expect.
DeVorkin:I think Iíll end by saying, well, this is first-generation stuff. Nobody had ever experienced this before.
Haramundanis:Thatís probably right.
DeVorkin:This is the first major launch of what are essentially imaging tools. Electronic imaging, electronic application. Nobody knew the long-term. By ďlong-term,Ē I mean more than a few minutes. Maybe they should have thought through better calibration. I still have to figure that out. Weíll see. I havenít read all of the progress reports yet.
Haramundanis:One of the things that I think happened, Nozawa must have published something.
DeVorkin:Iíll try to find it. NES should have it.
Haramundanis:Yes, youíd think. I think at one time I looked at something he had written, but I canít remember now and I certainly donít have a copy of it. But youíd think that he would have published something about the calibration of the system and what he did to do that calibration of it.
DeVorkin:Thatís what Iíll to do. Iíll try to find that. Gene Avrett may be able to help. He was part of the second volume, supposedly the astrophysical. Two volumes, either catalog, and then there was the what you can do with this data?
Haramundanis:Yes, because he was certainly involved at some point, I remember, with the calibration discussions that Dr. Davis was holding. Yes, so he would obviously have something to say about it. And maybe Rudy Schild, I guess he was connected, too. In fact, I was here some months ago, and Schild showed me one of the things we used in our identifications with a Skalnate-Pleso sky charts. Rudy Schild had a copy, and there was a marking on it in somebodyís handwriting, and he wanted me to verify it was my motherís handwriting. I think it wasnít, but I donít remember now. But I think it was just one of the Celescope project charts that we were using.
DeVorkin:Yes. Well, weíve come a long way. Weíve got just about four hours.
Haramundanis:Good. Well, I hope it meets with your expectations.
DeVorkin:Extremely helpful. Even though we didnít cover your whole life — thereís quite a bit of time there — Iím going to let it sit at this point. But youíre going to see a transcript, and weíll ask you to edit, comment, add. If you want to have a major supplement, we might be able to do that over the phone. I can interview you over the phone. Then there could well be a second session if I find more questions.
Haramundanis:If you decide you need to. Oh, thatís fine.
DeVorkin:Or if you decide that thereís something you really feel you want to say. You never know.
Haramundanis:I think Iíve probably said most of what I might have said.
DeVorkin:I not only enjoyed it, but Iíve profited tremendously by this.
Haramundanis:Well, good. Iím glad.
DeVorkin:Thank you very much. So anyway, at that time, when you get the edited transcript, which will be a rough transcript with marks and everything, then youíll be asked to add to it and then to provide a use restriction, an editorial use.
Haramundanis:Which means what?
DeVorkin:Well, itís a sheet that gives you options for how you want this thing restricted. It can be opened to the public and everybody can read, quote, cite, anything, right down to closed, which I hope wonít happen. But somewhere in between is typically, anybody can read it, but if you quote it or cite it, you need my permission. Or you need the permission of the archives or something like that. You do effectively have some literary control. This is not going to be on the open shelves anywhere unless you say it can. There is that issue coming up now. Youíll probably see the option because at least the AIP and pretty soon the Smithsonian is going to want to put a lot of these things online. But we canít do that untilÖ
Haramundanis:The authors or interviewees agree.
DeVorkin:Thatís right. You are, effectively, the author for this. Thatís how it works.
Haramundanis:What about only doing extracts? In other words, say 95% of it is fine, but Iíd like to restrict 5% of it. Is there a way to do that?
DeVorkin:Any resolution you want you can restrict. You can restrict everything from this line to this line, that sort of thing. Letís say a user wants to see it someday. Well, in the final transcript — They wonít typically hear the tape.
Haramundanis:No, I understand. Right. Theyíll see the written words.
The edited, final, rewritten transcript. There will be a place that says something has been taken out. Thank you very much.
60 Garden Street
 Smithsonian Special Reports
 Reference to come
 Introduction to Astronomy (1970)
I enclose copies of some pages from my notes on camera problems, including pix of each camera and some star fields