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Oral History Transcript — Dr. Richard Kron

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Interview with Dr. Richard Kron
By David DeVorkin
At Berkeley
July 19, 1977

open tab View abstract

Richard Kron; July 19, 1977

ABSTRACT: Growing up on Mount Hamilton in l950s; interests in fatherís and motherís work; schooling on mountain; learning astronomy at home; Webb School; college years at Vanderbilt, University of Arizona; work at Kitt Peak; graduate work at Berkeley; studies in cosmology. Interviewer knew Kron as a child at Lick circa 1964.

Transcript

DeVorkin:

Could you possibly give us a very brief background of your family.

Kron:

Starting with my parents or from when I was born?

DeVorkin:

Start from when you were born, the year and that sort of thing.

Kron:

Okay, I was born in Canberra, Australia in 1951. My parents were in Australia on invitation of Mount Stromlo. Iím not absolutely sure about this, but I think that O. Eggan was the one who managed to have the invitation extended.

DeVorkin:

B. Bok was there at the time, wasnít he?

Kron:

Yes, he was. Thatís correct. It could have been Bok also.

DeVorkin:

Am I correct: Bok was there at that time and then he went back to Harvard?

Kron:

I donít really know.

DeVorkin:

Okay.

Kron:

In any case I was two months old coming back to the United States and grew up on Mt. Hamilton from that point more or less continuously until 1965, with one interruption, which was a return to Australia in 1960 for essentially the same deal: namely, my parents being invited by the Mount Stromlo Observatory. And that gave me a chance to see what the outside world was like.

DeVorkin:

So it was either the Lick Observatory or Mount Stromlo. That was your experience.

Kron:

Thatís right.

DeVorkin:

Okay. Well, I think we also want to focus in to a certain -- degree on your experiences growing up on Mount Hamilton, and I think I would like to have some of your earliest impressions of what it was like to be a child growing up on the observatory grounds.

Kron:

All right. Well, there was a very strong sense of community. There were only about a hundred people on the mountain and somewhere between 10 and 20 people in the school, which went from kindergarten through the eighth grade. So whatever isolation there was, at least as a child I felt it in a positive way. In other words, it made you feel like ďweíre all in this together,Ē and it made for some kind of cohesive structure. Everybody shared the same thing. Everybody shared the fact that you were a few days away from the freshest groceries. That wasnít quite true in fact. Groceries came up once a week but on a particular day.

DeVorkin:

Were you aware of that when you were pretty young?

Kron:

Aware of the isolation?

DeVorkin:

The groceries.

Kron:

Oh, yes. It was sort of the great event when the grocery wagon would come. It was like a messenger from the outside.

DeVorkin:

Were there usually things in there for you particularly?

Kron:

I donít think so, standard staples.

DeVorkin:

Your mother was excited during that day or what?

Kron:

I donít recall. I remember Tom Venable was for some time the driver, among other things, but he was sort of a favorite around the mountain. So for no other reason than to see Tom come by, it was fun.

DeVorkin:

About how old were you when you started realizing that your father was an astronomer and his work was on the mountain?

Kron:

It was a very gradual realization. I suppose it was something you take for granted when it surrounds you.

DeVorkin:

Did you think that everybody did astronomy?

Kron:

Itís a hard question to answer because, as I say, it was something that you gradually realized, that somehow this was an unusual arrangement. Probably the first look at what the outside world was like might have been the influence of television, which of course is not necessarily the most accurate picture of what goes on, but at least it showed the kids to some degree that there was something rather strange about having large telescopes sitting around.

DeVorkin:

Just the strangeness of seeing something that was rather unique? I mean there were a lot of telescopes around.

Kron:

Yes. Well, there were a couple of other things, too. We, of course, had the visitors coming up every weekend, and it was clear to us that they were impressed by what they saw and it was different for them. So that may in fact have been the strongest element that showed us that here is in fact the great mass of people who live down in the valley, and our community is interesting to them. So itís a sort of an inverted goldfish bowl. And then we went down the mountain about once every two weeks anyway. We had a weekend house in Carmel, and so our family probably got off the mountain more frequently than many of the other families. But I actually preferred to stay on the mountain. I didnít like the trips.

DeVorkin:

Why was that?

Kron:

Well, for a couple of reasons. One is I got carsick. The other was I wasnít quite old enough to really appreciate what Carmel had to offer. But the strongest reason was that I really felt that Mount Hamilton was home, and I felt very attached to the place, and that was where all my buddies were and where I had the most fun. And, of course, if you only visit a place once every two weeks, itís hard to build up any kind of neighborhood friends or anything like that, and so I really didnít know anybody down there.

DeVorkin:

There werenít periods of time in the sunnier where you, as part of the family, spent longer times in Carmel when your father might have stayed up on the mountain? Or was it always apparent that both your father and your mother worked at astronomy?

Kron:

We would travel always together as the whole family, so my father would never be up on the mountain alone. Both of my parents did do astronomy. My mother took up the editorship of the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific in the late Ď50s or around about 1960 I think, because she was definitely doing the editing in Australia in 1960.

DeVorkin:

That was your second trip.

Kron:

That was the second trip, yes. Before that she had been working with eclipsing binaries and Zeta Aurigae I remember.

DeVorkin:

How do you remember Zeta Aurigae particularly?

Kron:

I helped observe it.

DeVorkin:

From what telescope?

Kron:

This is a very memorable series of nights because it was in early December and the temperature was around the middle seventies, I think. A gorgeous, still, calm night. And this was on the Tauchman. [1] But that was my first contact with Brown recorders and standard photoelectric techniques.

DeVorkin:

And you were nine or ten?

Kron:

I was old enough to appreciate what was going on. Iím not absolutely sure what the chronology was, but of course you can find out from knowing what the eclipse period of Zeta Aurigae is.

DeVorkin:

Itís a pretty long period.

Kron:

But it would have been the eclipse somewhere around 1960.

DeVorkin:

Do you recall observing the drop in light intensity over many nightsí time or what?

Kron:

The actual drop in the primary eclipse takes I think about two days.

DeVorkin:

And then thereís a long minimum?

Kron:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

What was your job primarily?

Kron:

Staying out of the way.

DeVorkin:

Oh. So why were you there?

Kron:

I was there on invitation. My parents thought it would be interesting for me to see what it was like and they were right.

DeVorkin:

What about your brother and sisters?

Kron:

They never really had that much interest in astronomy.

DeVorkin:

But youíd expressed it.

Kron:

Yes. By that time I had expressed it.

DeVorkin:

Why do you think that was the case? Do you think it was some subtle pressure on the part of your family?

Kron:

No, I think on the contrary. Well, as far as I know, there was no pressure. If it was extremely subtle, I wouldnít know about it by definition. Why it was that I showed interest in astronomy and my brothers and sisters did not is not clear to me. For example, I did not display any particular aptitude with mathematics over and above what my brother and sisters had shown until much later on. So Iím not sure why it was.

DeVorkin:

You remember the Zeta Aurigae situation, and yet you said this was your first exposure to strip chart recorders.

Kron:

Right.

DeVorkin:

Did you have any responsibility with the strip track recorder? What was your mother doing? Was it three-color work?

Kron:

I think it was.

DeVorkin:

Were you marking it for her?

Kron:

I remember at some time later on being involved with some of the reductions, and I think I probably was allowed to make notations on the chart at the time. The strongest memory in fact is looking out the slit to the Southeast and looking at Mt. Isabelle and the beautiful nighttime vista down the valley. I remember the recorder, probably because of the racket.

DeVorkin:

Thatís an interesting impression.

Kron:

And several years later I did some reductions for Ray White at the University of Arizona, and I remembered what it was like.

DeVorkin:

What do you mean you remember?

Kron:

Well, sort of deja-vu -- this awful, extremely painful job of reading deflections on Brown recorder paper, something that really shouldnít be allowed to happen.

DeVorkin:

Were you doing it with a ruler?

Kron:

Yes. Itís difficult.

DeVorkin:

So you werenít doing it at the telescope with Ray White.

Kron:

No, I did some of the redactor.

DeVorkin:

Did you always wonder when you were a child why the deflections were never quite the same?

Kron:

I think I had some appreciation for observational error.

DeVorkin:

With the sky and that sort of thing. Did you use any other telescopes in your recollection? Or assist your father or mother?

Kron:

I never used myself any of the telescopes on the mountain at that time; for obvious reasons that was off bounds. But I was permitted to hang around in certain cases. The 36-inch, as you know, was used by my father with the Electronic Camera. And at one point NASA was interested in getting electronographic pictures of the moon. He may recall this better than I do, but I think that that was that project, and I was on hand on one or two occasions for that.

DeVorkin:

Were you interested in all the gadgetry?

Kron:

Oh, yes. That was fascinating to me. That was one of the most formative things I think that my parents did as far as my interest in science was concerned. It was not so much the telescopes, but I was allowed to sit in my fatherís laboratory, quietly crouched in a corner, to just watch the proceedings. And he would have been completely justified in kicking me out, but he tolerated my presence. I was completely enthralled by what was going on.

DeVorkin:

Did you ask to be present or did he ask you to be?

Kron:

No, I wanted to be. It was the sort of thing that after school you go up to the laboratory and see what was going on. I would watch Eric Papiachvelli [2] and company.

DeVorkin:

The position that children had on the mountain -- was there any difference in position amongst peers depending on who your parents were? Whether they were astronomers or not?

Kron:

I donít think so. The pecking order was more based on -- besides obviously how old you were -- how long youíd been on the mountain. A few of the kids had arrived within our memories, and they somehow or other seemed to rank lower than the ones of us whoíd been around as long as we ourselves could remember. Itís an interesting question, I think at that time we had very little conception about the status of our fathers in the university system, whether or not he was a professor or an observer or an employee on the mountain staff or whatever.

DeVorkin:

When do you think you gained that understanding that there was a very peculiar kind of an arrangement between the professors on the one hand and everybody else on the other?

Kron:

I donít really understand. What do you mean by ďpeculiar arrangementĒ?

DeVorkin:

Well, it seemed to be a phenomenon that I sensed when I was there in the mid Ď60s that everyone was there basically in support of the astronomers. Even though the astronomers worked just as hard, they were working on their own stuff. And somehow everybody else was working for them.

Kron:

Okay, I think this may help you out. My father had a degree in mechanical engineering. He knew a lot about electronics, a lot about the behavior of materials and chemistry and various things like that. And for his work on the Electronic Camera, he would frequently go to the machine shop and spend time discussing either particular things dealing with the instrumentation with Neil Jern or with Ray Greeby or just shooting the breeze. But the point is: he was frequently around the machine shop, and so I saw him often in the context of the people who worked in the machine shop. And possibly for that reason, I never myself made the distinction that my father had a high rank in any way, since Ray Greeby and Neil Jern and others were treated on the same level, as equals in the shop.

DeVorkin:

Thatís an interesting experience. In other words, you didnít always see your father in the office behind a desk.

Kron:

Right. I almost never saw my father in an office.

DeVorkin:

But what about the other children -- letís say the older children? What older children were there at the time? Did they talk about what was going on on the mountain in front of you in ways that you may not have understood at the time, talking about the astronomers?

Kron:

I think that there was an unwritten law that parents did not talk in front of their children about mountain policies or matters, because I donít recall any politics filtering down to us, because of course clearly the parents realized that if they did in fact say anything in front of the kids, it would be out immediately. And it never happened. So I recall no such incidents.

DeVorkin:

Thatís a very interesting policy. And to the best of your knowledge it was unwritten and generally understood on the mountain?

Kron:

Yes, thatís what I conjecture now. Of course at the time I never even thought about it.

DeVorkin:

What were your school years like on the mountain? When you were given little projects to do letís say by the teacher, did they ever deal with astronomy or science?

Kron:

Not very often.

DeVorkin:

Did you only have that one teacher?

Kron:

Yes, Mrs. Carlyle -- Gladys Carlyle. There was only one teacher except for a few assistants who would come in and help with the kindergarten.

DeVorkin:

These assistants were mountain assistants?

Kron:

Not necessarily. Later on someone from the Santa Clara school system would come up for the morning, drive all the way up and all the way down. In the earlier days when I was in kindergarten, the responsibility was shared among the mothers. And Deliah Herbig would come in about once a week and play the piano.

DeVorkin:

And she would do the music. And you remember that?

Kron:

Yes. And some time later Mimi Walker came and tried to teach us French, but I donít think it worked out too well.

DeVorkin:

Did your mother involve herself at all or your father?

Kron:

My mother I believe helped out when I was very young with the kindergarten, which means mainly sort of picking up the blocks and that sort of thing.

DeVorkin:

Yes. Was it a happy arrangement for the kids?

Kron:

Oh, I think so, yes. Naturally through the years you had small cliques and so on building up and disintegrating. It wasnít all roses.

DeVorkin:

Any cliques youíd care to recall or youíre able to recall?

Kron:

Well, the two kids who were closest in age to me were Alan Wirtanen and Larry Herbig. I was about six months younger than they were, so I was somewhat more on the fringe of the triumvirate, if three points can have a fringe. To that degree, there was that.

DeVorkin:

What sort of nasty things did you do on the mountain?

Kron:

WellÖ

DeVorkin:

Was there this policy that Max Aitken mentioned where no one would go off by himself, that you were always in twoís?

Kron:

No. It was generally felt to be very good policy to go hiking with more than one person and somewhat foolhardy not to do so, but I donít recall personally having any particular rule from my parents that I was not allowed to go, and I frequently did.

DeVorkin:

You did go off by yourself.

Kron:

Oh, yes.

DeVorkin:

How far?

Kron:

The whole mountain was sort of a giant playground as far as we were concerned.

DeVorkin:

Well, how far?

Kron:

How far did I go alone? Well, probably not much farther than down to the brickyard on the west or out to the fire lookout or letís say over to the garden, the Joaquin Muller garden to the east over beyond the saddle.

DeVorkin:

Iím trying to figure out where that is. Thatís opposite of the direction of Trumplerís Gardens? Trumplerís Gardens were pretty much to the west of Copernicus and behind Copernicus. So this was to the east?

Kron:

East side of the saddle. Thereís a toboggan run. Thereís the rifle range. Remember that?

DeVorkin:

Yes.

Kron:

And itís east of that down the canyon there.

DeVorkin:

Okay.

Kron:

I didnít go much farther than that or down to the two springs, the north spring and the south spring. Sometime later Jim Breckinridge was a leader of the group of the three boys and a few other younger brothers and this sort of thing. We hiked from Camp Uti (the one with the dammed pool) up through the back country, up Sulphur Creek. That was about a two-day hike. And Paddockís Pool I believe is the pool several miles upstream.

DeVorkin:

Yes, okay.

Kron:

And there was something which was called Paddock Trail which took off from a different direction. It took off from the end of the saddle and went down to Sulphur Creek, and I donít know what the history of that is.

DeVorkin:

Certainly there were a lot of different trails and markers that are kind of hard to recall. There are some very strange ones, too. What were some of your particular experiences on the mountain that you feel made your life unique?

Kron:

Well, for one thing I realize now and to some degree I realized then was just the ability to get up in the morning and look out over the valley which was completely clouded in except for the tops of the mountains sticking up, and it was just very nice to be up above it all and to look out, to look down. It was a marvelous sense of freedom and being able to breathe the air.

DeVorkin:

In the opposite sense, when did you start feeling the isolation?

Kron:

I donít think I ever felt isolated.

DeVorkin:

How about the other kids?

Kron:

There were people who had arrived on the mountain after having lived part of their lives of course somewhere else, and they I think may have felt somewhat lonely. Beverly Harlan came from Los Gatos, and I donít recall them now, but at the time I remember it was interesting to hear her talk about Los Gatos and what it was like to go to a school which had more than 20 people and more than one room. But I would imagine -- Iím not absolutely sure about this -- that she may have felt somewhat isolated.

DeVorkin:

Well, after you got television -- do you remember when you got television?

Kron:

It must have been the late Ď50s. The reason we got television was in order to keep some permanent resident babysitters happy. This was an interesting arrangement, but my mother found it was difficult keeping five children happy and well cared for and at the same time do everything that she wanted to do on the mountain. So her policy was to hire German students and have them essentially be live-in babysitters. We were speaking of isolation. They certainly felt isolated. There were very few people of their own age on the mountain.

DeVorkin:

What age were they?

Kron:

Well, they would have been 18 to 20, this sort of age. It was partly so that they could learn English. It was an arrangement which was mutually beneficial.

DeVorkin:

This is called ďau pairĒ.

Kron:

Something like that, right. But anyway the television was bought for them. My parents had no particular use for it themselves, and itís too bad that they let us watch it. I think that was one of the greater mistakes they made in bringing us up.

DeVorkin:

You really feel that way?

Kron:

Yes. I made the statement earlier that television may have had the beneficial effect of at least letting us see that there was indeed another world, and I will stand to some degree behind that. But there were certainly other cases where the stuff was just pure garbage and not really worth having around.

DeVorkin:

Iím thinking mainly of letting you see the other world: did you start to wonder more about how real that world was? What kind of stuff did you watch?

Kron:

Well, this is the thing. What we got was a very very confusing picture. In other words, it was like a kaleidoscope and it made the outside world, as I keep calling it, to some extent, frightening because it was confusing. The life that we had was very straightforward and very simple and we understood it. And this business of flipping around 13 channels or 12 channels was something rather bizarre.

DeVorkin:

And you never got comfortable with it?

Kron:

Iím speaking with a lot of hindsight of course. At the time I naturally didnít try to sit down and be very intellectual about what was happening.

DeVorkin:

Did you watch programs geared for your age? I mean were your parents programming you, allowing you to see some programs and not others?

Kron:

The main limit was to be in bed by such and such a time. They encouraged us to watch programs like Science In Action, which I think was produced by the California Academy of Sciences. As I recall, my father bravely tried to seem interested in this in order to have a good influence, but I think he probably was fairly bored with it -- if I remember correctly.

DeVorkin:

Did your father make an active effort to teach you science or anything for that matter, either your father or your mother?

Kron:

Well, after I announced that I was interested in astronomy, then this interest was fostered to some extent.

DeVorkin:

What did they give you to read?

Kron:

Well, one book they gave me was Phillipsí book Pictorial Astronomy -- Phillips, Cleminshaw, Alter.

DeVorkin:

You mention Phillips first. Is that because youíre familiar with Phillips?

Kron:

I think it is. Iím not sure who the preferred author is.

DeVorkin:

I think itís Alter, Cleminshaw, Phillips. Phillips only came in in a revision.

Kron:

I see.

DeVorkin:

Theyíre all reprinted Griffith Observer articles.

Kron:

Okay, I didnít know that. That was okay, and then later on they tried Russell, Dugan and Stewart, [3] because ďif it was good enough for them, it was good enough for me.Ē

DeVorkin:

How did you like that?

Kron:

Not very much.

DeVorkin:

How old were you?

Kron:

This was when I was around 12 or 13.

DeVorkin:

So that would have been already after Abellís book. No, I guess not. I mean there are other books like Baker.

Kron:

I remember my father received Abell [4] to review. For some reason I remember it. In fact, I know the reason I remember it. It was called Exploration of the Universe. The title struck me because the connotation was: going out to see what was going on instead of sitting around and waiting for the photons to come down to you.

DeVorkin:

That appealed to you?

Kron:

Thatís why I remember the title struck me.

DeVorkin:

Did it appeal to you in any way or just strike you?

Kron:

No, it didnít. The reason that it didnít is because the type of astronomy that I was sitting in the middle of was extremely conservative and was in fact the collecting photon type of astronomy. And the idea of sending rockets out or considering interstellar travel, which is what the word ďexplorationĒ meant, said to me was something which was scoffed at.

DeVorkin:

In your family.

Kron:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

Thatís interesting.

Kron:

The idea of sending a rocket to the moon was not scoffed at, but the idea of interstellar travel was.

DeVorkin:

Did you talk to your father or mother about the idea of space travel? Or is it something that came up in a dinner conversation?

Kron:

Well, we had Chesley Bonestellís book and that was considered to be something of a joke. I think this was another book that my father had received for purposes of reviewing. And there was another book -- it was not a pictorial book as Bonestellís book was, but more of a discussion of what it would be like to travel around between the stars in a space ship, which received similar treatment. This is interesting to see: the line was very very conservative in this regard.

DeVorkin:

You didnít realize it was conservative at the time. Again this is hindsight?

Kron:

Thatís right. I do remember being rather impressed by Bonestellís paintings. I thought they were really neat. But I probably said so once and my parents didnít agree with me or something like this. I donít know.

DeVorkin:

When do you think you became aware of the objects that your father and mother were actually studying -- stars and what they were?

Kron:

Well, there was a fairly sharp transition of when I became interested in astronomy, and after that point I think it became fairly clear.

DeVorkin:

What stimulated that transition?

Kron:

I do remember the transition was quick. I donít remember what exactly stimulated it in particular. The generalities were that I decided one day that I would be expected to know something about astronomy considering who my parents were and where I was living. This was when I was ill. And so I decided I ought to read some books about it just so I would know what I would be expected to know, and then I became interested in it.

DeVorkin:

These werenít the Russell, Dugan and Stewart books.

Kron:

No, these were much more elementary books to start off with. Subsequently I borrowed books from the library on the mountain. I was more or less allowed to go through the stacks and check books out.

DeVorkin:

Oh, you mean the main library, not the small lending library.

Kron:

No, the main library. I was allowed under my parentsí names to check books out, and I picked out books that looked interesting.

DeVorkin:

What did you pick out that looked interesting?

Kron:

Itís very difficult to remember now. I picked out some of the Harvard [5] series.

DeVorkin:

On telescopes?

Kron:

I donít know that the telescopes appealed to me that much. I took out Atoms, Stars and Nebulae. And Bokís book The Milky and probably various others.

DeVorkin:

Well, we donít have an awful lot of time, but I want to move on: at what age were you when your parents left the mountain?

Kron:

I was 14.

DeVorkin:

So by that time you had gone through the eight grades on the mountain, and were you also going to school down in San Jose?

Kron:

No, first of all I had skipped a grade on the mountain, so I had really only gone through seven grades minus another grade for being absent in Australia for a year.

DeVorkin:

Why did you skip?

Kron:

Well, the way the school was structured is: clearly it is not cost effective to teach eight separate grades when you only have 20 people anyway. So there were groups of people of similar ability who would be doing the same reading assignment or the same arithmetic assignment or whatever.

DeVorkin:

Was this ultimately controlled by the San Jose school district?

Kron:

Oh, yes. It was under the Santa Clara County school system.

DeVorkin:

And so it was pretty much self-paced.

Kron:

Yes, it was, exactly. The result of this is that some of the group went fairly fast. The whole school was consistently reading several grades ahead of the age and doing mathematics or arithmetic several grades ahead. And Larry Herbig and I and probably a few other people were accelerated because we could clearly do the work, and that was very nice because that gave me an extra year which was valuable later on.

DeVorkin:

What happened after the eighth grade?

Kron:

Well, after the eighth grade the choice was either to commute to San Jose, which is what Greg Rice did, but I was too young to drive, and it seemed that there was no really easy solution to either living in San Jose or commuting.

DeVorkin:

What about your brother Donald?

Kron:

What I did was exactly what my brother did, which was to go to boarding school. It turned out we went to the same boarding school, but we made independent decisions, and that was a place called the Webb School in Southern California. Itís near Claremont. The significance of that is that that sparked his interest in paleontology because they had a big paleontology program at the school.

DeVorkin:

Did they have any astronomy?

Kron:

They had a small astronomy program. The reason I went there had nothing to do with whether or not they had astronomy.

DeVorkin:

Did your parents have anything to do with the choice of the school?

Kron:

We started out with three different schools, and I decided that that one looked like the best one for me. And they allowed me three choices.

DeVorkin:

Which were the two others?

Kron:

The other two were the Robert Louis Stevenson School. Itís not too far from Carmel. And the Cate School.

DeVorkin:

Whereís that?

Kron:

Some place in Southern California. I actually donít know exactly where it is.

DeVorkin:

Thereís a very good science-oriented school in Ojai, California.

Kron:

Thatcher.

DeVorkin:

Thatcher, right. Was that ever considered?

Kron:

Yes, it was. For some reason or other we crossed it off the list. I donít remember why.

DeVorkin:

Could it possibly have been that your parents were concerned that you would get a little more rounded education, assuming that you wouldnít get it there?

Kron:

Oh, yes, Iím sure that it had something to do with the curriculum.

DeVorkin:

Okay, was there anything significant at Webb School that we should talk about or should we move on to your college years do you feel in your own mind?

Kron:

Well, it was a very good school. It gave me a very good background in the physical sciences and mathematics. As far as astronomy is concerned, it was a negative factor, because I couldnít see anything through the smog, and my interest in astronomy was very much coasting if not going downhill during that period. I kept telling people that I was interesting in astronomy by force of habit because I didnít have anything else to say, but in fact I donít recall doing any reading at all of astronomy books or keeping up with my subscriptions to the Publications of the ASP or any of these things during my stay there.

DeVorkin:

You kept your own subscription? Your parents didnít automatically handle that for you?

Kron:

Well, as I say, I let my subscription go. Previously to that I had been a proud card-carrying member, but in the smog days I let it lapse and my interest was waning, just for lack of practice more or less.

DeVorkin:

What other interests were increasing at that time?

Kron:

Well, I became very interesting in photography. Thatís a good point, because that was very valuable to me later on in my career. It was 35-millimeter black and white amateur photography, but nevertheless the techniques and the tolerances of photography became known.

DeVorkin:

Quite true. I still havenít met those tolerances. You had physics facilities, facilities for shop and that sort of thing?

Kron:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

What about sports? Did you participate in any kind of campus activities?

Kron:

I suppose the sport I liked the best was soccer, but I never put out in athletics. So I never made a team or competed. It was a purely intramural type of work.

DeVorkin:

What about teachers? Were there any significant teachers in Webb?

Kron:

Yes. The biology teacher, who was the person who organized paleontological expeditions, was named Raymond Alf, and he was a remarkable person in being an inspiration to people in showing the remarkable beauty that is to be found in the world around you. He was interested in astronomy. He built a small telescope for himself. But that had nothing to do with what I felt about astronomy. It was just the inspiration that he had on me as a teacher of biology in this instance.

DeVorkin:

He was the one that inspired your brother?

Kron:

Yes, he was.

DeVorkin:

Did you ever mess around with the telescope with him?

Kron:

No.

DeVorkin:

Mathematics, physics? Anybody that stands out?

Kron:

I remember that at that time I was not particularly interested in mathematics. My interest in mathematics developed later. Well, this was at Vanderbilt about the middle of my first quarter, and I realized in a very clear way that it was either: ďlike mathematics and do well in it or forget about being an astronomer,Ē and I decided on the former course. And it was very sharp, and I went ahead and did it with great gusto.

DeVorkin:

So you never got that idea from your father? That was definitely from your college years.

Kron:

With the mathematics.

DeVorkin:

Well, to like mathematics and be good at it or else.

Kron:

Speaking now, it seems to me that was a self-motivated thing. I realized personally that I had to do it.

DeVorkin:

Letís go on to your Vanderbilt years. Could you describe again for me how you got interested in going to Vanderbilt and what the choices were?

Kron:

Well, the basic idea that had been closely supervised for me was that it would be a good idea to go east of the Mississippi River to a relatively small university and a university with an astronomy department. Again, recall that my interest in astronomy was not then of the highest by any means, but I didnít know what else to tell the college advisor except that I had an interest in astronomy, so that was put on the list.

DeVorkin:

So those stipulations were from the college advisor, not from your family?

Kron:

Working together.

DeVorkin:

Did your parents come down often and talk to the advisor?

Kron:

No, they never did, except for graduation and this kind of thing, very occasionally.

DeVorkin:

Was this done by correspondence or phone calls or something?

Kron:

Well, I would go home on the holidays and talk to them about where I should go to college. Yes, and there was some degree of correspondence.

DeVorkin:

Berkeley was never considered?

Kron:

No, because it wasnít east of the Mississippi.

DeVorkin:

Why did they say that?

Kron:

Because I felt I had been in the west long enough. I agreed with all this. I donít mean to say that I was being pushed in any particular direction. I probably was, but it was voluntary on my part that Berkeley could wait until later.

DeVorkin:

Oh, you definitely thought you were going to go to Berkeley eventually?

Kron:

No, I never did. But the possibility of going to Berkeley could wait until later. So that narrowed it down to a few places. The only other college that I remember on the list was Swarthmore, and the only notable things about that besides being turned down were: first of all, I met Peter van de Kamp, and he with great pleasure opened up an ancient folder and pulled out some of my motherís correspondence from decades ago. The second thing was that the girl who showed me around and another visiting family is the present Jean Goad, who introduced herself at Kitt Peak, saying in a sense: ďYou probably donít remember me but ÖĒ I did remember her, but only after she told me about this incident.

DeVorkin:

Jean Goad. Iím afraid I donít know her.

Kron:

She is on the staff at Kitt Peak.

DeVorkin:

Is that her maiden name?

Kron:

No, thatís her married name.

DeVorkin:

What was her maiden name?

Kron:

I donít know.

DeVorkin:

Thatís interesting. Well, those donít seem like very negative reasons for not going to Swarthmore. Why didnít Swarthmore accept you?

Kron:

I donít know. I can tell you this: my grades werenít all that great in my senior year, because I was working very hard on photography, and for other reasons. My interest in academic affairs went in cycles, and at certain critical points in the college review I was in a down part of the curve, and I was not in the top part of my class.

DeVorkin:

So you really didnít have a carte blanche choice of any college.

Kron:

No. Right.

DeVorkin:

And Vanderbilt was your other choice and you did go there.

Kron:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

Did you correspond yourself or did your father or anyone correspond -- Hardie? Did Robert Hardie know you were coming?

Kron:

Yes, Hardie had known my parents. I had visited Vanderbilt before I went there and stayed with the Hardies at the Dyer Observatory, and so I had some idea of what the layout was.

DeVorkin:

Did you consider any northern observatories? Assuming that Philadelphia is northern. Such as Dartmouth?

Kron:

No. I think it probably was felt that I couldnít get into an Ivy League college.

DeVorkin:

Well, you got to Vanderbilt. Why didnít you stay very long?

Kron:

That was a very difficult part of my life, because I had just gotten back from a year in England.

DeVorkin:

Oh, thatís right. You took that extra year. Iím sorry.

Kron:

That was after I had graduated from high school.

DeVorkin:

I forgot all about that, and that certainly was a significant period.

Kron:

Yes. That was probably the best year of my life, because I had already been accepted by Vanderbilt, and so I had no worries at all about my university future. So I could more or less lean back and relax and think and consider what I was doing and who I was more or less in the context of the Wiltshire Downs and the 10-inch Cooke refracting telescope, which was in fact the setting in which I regained a very very strong interest in astronomy.

DeVorkin:

Was there anybody there that you talked to?

Kron:

The only other people who were keenly interested in astronomy were my colleagues, the other school boys. And we generated our own interest. The observatory was in fact one of the original Radcliffe instruments, which when the Radcliffe Observatory at Oxford was broken up and shipped down to South Africa, there were a number of small instruments left, and the deal was struck whereby the school at Marlborough College that I went to was to receive the 10-inch Cooke refractor if they could find someone who would donate money to build a dome. And that was subsequently arranged, called the Blacket Observatory. Iím not sure what relation that Blacket [6] has to the astronomer-mathematician Blacket. I donít know. That can be looked up. But I spent an enormous amount of time at the observatory learning practical astronomy -- that is, what you do about precession and how a filar micrometer works and that sort of thing -- as well as more or less establishing a social outpost way up on the Marlborough Downs. In other words, my friends and I would go there more or less regardless of the weather.

DeVorkin:

These were all male friends?

Kron:

Yes. There were 800 boys and 15 girls in the school. The quarter I arrived was the first time girls were accepted in the school on an experimental basis.

DeVorkin:

What about at Webb School? Were there any girls?

Kron:

That was a boysí school.

DeVorkin:

You hadnít had much contact with girls?

Kron:

When I got to Berkeley.

DeVorkin:

Oh, I see, but that comes later.

Kron:

Yes, that comes later. (laughs) All right, anyway so I arrived at Vanderbilt after having spent a year outside the country and a year outside of American high school. And by that time I was completely out of sync with all the other entering freshmen, and I think that was the main problem. It just seemed that there was no common level of viewpoint toward what a university experience was supposed to be all about. By that time, contrary to what Iíd been in high school, I was extremely, one might say excessively, academically oriented. There was nothing I wanted to do more than to learn. And anything that got in the way of this -- for example, the closing of the library at 2 oíclock in the morning or something like that -- was to me a personal frustration.

DeVorkin:

You stayed through till 2 oíclock in the morning and were frustrated because it closed at that time?

Kron:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

How is that possible? Not that itís impossible.

Kron:

Because the desire to learn was amazingly strong. And this was not just science. I wanted to learn about everything. I would wander around stacks pulling books off shelves and reading them, not necessarily reading them through but just to see what was going on between the covers.

DeVorkin:

Itís fascinating to me. Itís not that Iím shocked.

Kron:

So I would in fact spend long periods of time in the mathematics section, although most of the stuff was not intelligible to me, but I was fascinated by the fact that it wasnít intelligible to me and I wanted it to be intelligible to me, so I spent a lot of time going back and forth.

DeVorkin:

Did you have any systematic way of going through the stacks?

Kron:

No, not at all.

DeVorkin:

How about teachers at Vanderbilt? Who were you exposed to? What were their influences on you?

Kron:

The professors were my best friends I would say. John Compton was a philosophy professor who was the son of the Nobel Prize winner. He, and another philosophy professor named John Lachs. And then a history professor named Alexander Marchant, I had a cousin who went to Vanderbilt -- John Steele Gordon -- say four years before I had gone. And it turned out completely coincidentally that Marchant was also my cousinís mentor. And I also realized that this man was someone to appreciate. So I remember talking to these professors in particular. It seemed to me that they could appreciate what my burning desire to learn was all about and my classmates did not. Thatís how I felt. Iím not saying that this in fact was the case, but this is the way I was feeling.

DeVorkin:

Yes, okay. Was it because of your year in England? Could you point to that?

Kron:

It was that I just had more world experience I think at the time. I was not interested in basketball games and things that undergraduates were. This again was how it appeared to me. So I felt very alienated.

DeVorkin:

The soccer interest that you had had at Webb had pretty much evaporated as far as sports were concerned?

Kron:

Well, see that was an intramural thing. I appreciated doing sports as opposed to spectator sports. I could not see any sense in spectator sports at all. It escaped me why people would want to look at people playing as opposed to playing themselves.

DeVorkin:

Okay. Well, you didnít stay at Vanderbilt very long. Why was that?

Kron:

I stayed only one year because I felt that this was not the right place for me.

DeVorkin:

You would have stayed longer otherwise.

Kron:

Well, if Iíd been happy, I would have stayed, yes. So I decided that since I was so keen on this nose-to-the-grindstone thing that the place to go was Caltech. So I applied as a transfer student to Caltech and was not accepted, despite the fact that I had a perfect record. I had straight Aís.

DeVorkin:

I donít think they accept too many transfer students.

Kron:

Okay, but it doesnít matter. It doesnít matter at all. In fact, itís probably a good thing I didnít go to Caltech. But anyway I probably could easily have gotten accepted in almost any school that would accept transfer students on the basis of a very good record. But at that point I was so disgusted with the whole American undergraduate education scene that I said, ďOh, I will go to the University of Arizona which I know will accept me since Iím a resident of the state,Ē and thatís what I did, and I was very happy there.

DeVorkin:

You were something of an Anglophile, as you mentioned before.

Kron:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

Youíve pretty well described your feelings for Vanderbilt and how you got to the U. of A. What were your experiences at the U. of A.?

Kron:

Well, thereís something else Iíd like to mention about Vanderbilt because it ties in with a similar problem I had at the U. of A., and that is that I felt at the time that despite the fact that I was a mere freshman, I was still capable of doing something or at least I should be allowed to try to do something -- in other words, to use these skills that I had learned, to use the science that I had learned, the mathematics, and to be allowed to do some kind of creative work as opposed to just the usual passive solve-the-problems-at-theóendóof-the-chapter type of thing.

DeVorkin:

Directed research.

Kron:

Yes. So I essentially said, ďHere I am, folks. Give me a problem and letís see what happens.Ē

DeVorkin:

Who did you say that to?

Kron:

To the astronomy department in general at Vanderbilt.

DeVorkin:

So you said this to Hardie.

Kron:

Yes. And basically there was no provision at Vanderbilt for this for freshmen. Had I been a junior or perhaps a sophomore, then this plea might have been listened to. I think it would have been. But as a freshman there was really no provision for a ďgung hoĒ freshman so far as I could see. And the same thing essentially happened at the U. of A. I mentioned the photoelectric reductions for Ray White. Now, that is absolutely no fault of Ray Whiteís. I showed up at Steward Observatory and said, ďHere I am -- I can do things -- look at me -- give me something to do.Ē And thatís what I got. Well, it became clear rather quickly that this was not the most desirable of all possible employments. Now, if there is any point in my career where it could be said that my family connections have pulled strings it would probably be the following: As I understand it, my father, unbeknownst to me, brought this to the attention of Art Hoag at Kitt Peak -- namely, that I was interested in working, doing a job and using some of the skills. So I received a call from Art Hoag and was invited to work at Kitt Peak as a part time employee, which meant a maximum of ten hours of work a week.

DeVorkin:

You didnít know that your father had done this.

Kron:

No, Art Hoag told me after he called me up that my father had pointed this out to him, but I didnít know it before Art had called me.

DeVorkin:

How did you feel about it?

Kron:

I felt a little bit funny. It was a nice idea, because it probably would not have occurred to me to walk into the front door of Kitt Peak and announce that I could do stuff, since there was no officially tie between the University and Kitt Peak. And therefore it would not have occurred to me, and so it was a good thing that somebody showed the way.

DeVorkin:

Your father was very aware of the fact certainly that you wanted to work.

Kron:

Yes. I felt a little bit funny about it, because maybe there were other people who could also have used a job. In fact, I recall that there were other people in astronomy-physics who were looking for a job, and I mentioned that in fact Kitt Peak had such positions -- this ten-hour a week business -- and Iím not sure whether they followed it up or not. But at least I was not guarding the information that such positions were available. What I did was fairly routine microdensitometer tracings of plates and also the Tucson night sky monitoring project, which allowed me some degree of creativity -- especially in the night sky monitoring project. It was left up to me. Art Hoag, presumably very carefully, made sure that there was this element of leaving me on my own to figure out how to solve the problem of the type of operation, which really fit the bill. I was very happy doing this work. I would have worked for free. It turned out they insisted on paying me, but that was not the point at all. I met Al Millikan from Eastman Kodak at this time and Roger Lynds was also working on some of the same projects. I was churning out microdensitometer tracings -- Joyce Lobell isodensitometer tracings in fact. And people I met at Kitt Peak subsequently were known to me later on observing trips. Well, after two years I had finished all the requirements for my degree, and I had of course applied for graduate school after one year.

DeVorkin:

So you got through college in essentially three years.

Kron:

Three years, right.

DeVorkin:

Why did you take the accelerated course?

Kron:

Because I was so unhappy with American undergraduate education.

DeVorkin:

You never considered possibly going back to England?

Kron:

I did. In fact, I was looking through some of these old letters, and I found a letter of reply from Dr. D.W. Dewhirst at Cambridge. My initial letter clearly, though Iíd forgotten all about this, was inquiring of him whether I could transfer to Cambridge. And his letter, which I can show you, is trying to say, ďWell, in fact, I think it would be a better idea for you to finish up your degree in the United States and for a postódoctoral fellowship, then we can start to talk. Then it starts to sound like itís possible.Ē Now you can ask why didnít I apply for graduate school in England. The answer is that by that time it had in fact become clear that I should really get my final degree in this country also.

DeVorkin:

There is a certain element here. I imagine youíre pretty sure youíre going into some form of Observational research. Iím not too sure when you actually developed your unique personal research interests, but if they did involve big telescope work, it was pretty obvious that you should stay in the United States. Did you have that kind of a feeling? Or am I putting thoughts into your head?

Kron:

I was trying to recall this myself -- at what point did I start thinking of myself as an optical observer. I think that was rather later. Clearly my heritage has been in optical observing.

DeVorkin:

Did you consider an alternative?

Kron:

But as I recall, when I arrived at Berkeley, I was wide open in terms of what I might be doing in astronomy. However, in fact, in terms of the choices of whether or not I should go outside the country or whether I should go to some other institution besides large California observatories, I think probably that choice was in fact influenced by some kind of gut feeling that optical astronomy was what I wanted to do.

DeVorkin:

That certainly is a significant choice.

Kron:

As I was telling you before, I think Art Hoag must have been the reason for me getting into Berkeley, because after having only one year at the University of Arizona, I did not know enough physics professors for them to write reasonable letters of recommendation.

DeVorkin:

You mean you didnít take any astronomy? You didnít take much astronomy?

Kron:

I took one course from Swihart and one from Fitch. It was not the elementary course. It was the post-calculus course for interested undergraduates, but not an advanced course.

DeVorkin:

They didnít have an undergraduate major?

Kron:

They did but it was called astronomy-physics or something like that, and I didnít take it because I felt that a physics major was somehow preferable to an astronomy major, that it would somehow or other, correctly or incorrectly, be taken somewhat more seriously -- purely political.

DeVorkin:

Okay. Through Hoag then, strangely enough, you had the suspicion that thatís how you got into Berkeley.

Kron:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

Why is that? How were your grades?

Kron:

Well, okay.

DeVorkin:

And did you have any actual research experience at that time other than with the people at Kitt Peak?

Kron:

No, I had no research experience at all.

DeVorkin:

Other than your ten-hour a week job?

Kron:

Other than the ten-hour a week job, yes.

DeVorkin:

And that included this sky glow stuff.

Kron:

Yes. The reason I feel that somehow Hoagís contribution was critical and that in fact I did not have more than enough to get me in were several little clues. One is I was turned down by every other place I applied to, so that it was clearly not a cut and dried thing. And the other was that Ivan King once let it slip that I was on the bottom of the list to be offered financial help.

DeVorkin:

But might not there have been several other reasons, though? I mean was financial assistance a serious consideration for you?

Kron:

No, the financial assistance on this level has very little bearing on what your economic status is. Itís offered or not offered according to whether or not they want you.

DeVorkin:

So they werenít very sure about you.

Kron:

No, I was at the bottom of the list of people who were offered financial assistance. So they wanted me but I was on the borderline.

DeVorkin:

He let that slip in what way? Because Ivan King seems to be a very careful man.

Kron:

I had invited him to dinner.

DeVorkin:

He had a beer?

Kron:

He had brought the wine.

DeVorkin:

Well, it must have come out in context somehow. Do you remember the conversation?

Kron:

It was probably one of the innumerable discussions about the admissions policy and this sort of thing.

DeVorkin:

And nothing to do specifically with anything else Ö

Kron:

I donut recall anything besides that, which I was very amused by.

DeVorkin:

He said it with a chuckle, I take it.

Kron:

I donít even remember that. He probably said it very seriously. Heís very serious about things in general, especially admissions. In fact, at the time I came to Berkeley, I didnít know anything about Berkeley; I didnít know anything about astronomy; I knew almost nothing about research. I didnít know anything about anything, and itís worked out very well.

DeVorkin:

When did you come? What was the year?

Kron:

1972. This I guess is what Iíve really been meaning to say all along, that graduate school was the first opportunity I had to really do what I wanted to do -- namely, to do creative work on my own with my own ideas. All through my undergraduate work I had constantly been having to operate in a passive mode as a student, having to sit in a room and be lectured at, and to do the problems at the end of the book, which I loathed, although I did it very well because I wanted so badly to get to graduate school in order not to do that. The first thing I did when I got to graduate school was to take as few classes as I possibly could get away with.

DeVorkin:

You had your choice?

Kron:

And to do as much research as I could possibly do, thatís right. To some extent you have a choice. I took a minimum of astronomy courses. In fact, at Berkeley youíre not required to take any astronomy courses at all. Youíre required to take a certain number of units, and youíre required to take a certain number of physics courses, but there are no astronomy courses which are in fact required, as long as you can pass the examination.

DeVorkin:

So how many did you actually take?

Kron:

Courses?

DeVorkin:

Yes.

Kron:

Maybe four or so. I donít remember exactly. I may have audited a few.

DeVorkin:

And physics courses?

Kron:

I took three or four physics courses.

DeVorkin:

Any kind of courses that would help you with solid state electronics or any instrumentation?

Kron:

No. The physics courses were extremely abstract and of no practical use.

DeVorkin:

Not even in astronomy?

Kron:

Well, indirectly. All right: the more you learn in an abstract course, the less you are intimidated by finding out more on your own. And to that degree theyíre useful in a practical sense. But I am no better able to fix a television set after having studied E&M than I was before. Itís not that level of practicality. But surely in the broader sense it was a good thing I took these courses. I donít mean to say that.

DeVorkin:

No, I follow that.

Kron:

But I was not happy about taking these courses from the point of view of again sitting in the lecture hall. Somehow this was not my idea of what graduate school was supposed to be all about.

DeVorkin:

Why donít we talk a bit about how the relationships with your professors developed and how your research interests developed. I think thatís the most important thing to identify now.

Kron:

Okay. I mentioned that when I arrived at Berkeley I had very little idea of how an astronomer really spent his time. Despite my upbringing, I really didnít have a conception of what it was like to do astronomy full time. Well, that was very quickly solved. John Gaustad was I think, the person I credit with launching me. We have a tutorial program at Berkeley which involves every student who has not passed his qualifying exam. They meet for one or two hours a week with a professor either privately or with a small group, and the tutorial can take any direction which the professor and the students like to take. In this particular case David Koo and Bob Sills, two of my classmates, were taking the tutorial together under John Gaustadís umbrella. And basically he at that time was the head of the Infra-Red group, and there was a one-micron S-1 image tube which had been brought on the air to expose automatically on 35-millimeter film pressed against the back phospher. And basically Gaustad gave this to us and said, ďHere, take it out to Leuschner Observatory and do something with it.Ē It was a little bit more direct than that. There was a program for identifying the two micron sources in the Air Force Survey, which had already been started. Most of them were just late-type giants. Anyway the program had been done by putting the image tube on the back of a slitless spectrograph which was built for this purpose. So we attempted to finish up that project. We then used the image tube to try to take regions in the Taurus dark clouds to try to find extremely reddened objects. This, of course, has a very small field -- a few minutes of arc.

DeVorkin:

Like area scanning?

Kron:

Yes, right. It was very very tedious. And when we were through a very small fraction of what we had in fact planned to cover, a senior graduate student at that time -- Francois Schweizer -- said, ďYou guys are crazy. The best way to do this is to take an infra-red 1-N plate with the 48-inch Schmidt. Then youíll get everything at one time.Ē And there we were, two freshmen graduate students. Who, us? A 48-inch Schmidt? He said, ďYes, the telescope frequently goes unused during the bright run, and you can easily use it with no problem at all Ö

DeVorkin:

A 1-N plate, sure.

Kron:

ďÖ with the moon.Ē And this was really outrageous. But John Gaustad wrote to Horace Babcock and said, ďI have two graduate students (this is David Koo and myself working or, this) who have a project of working for highly extincted stars in the Taurus clouds. May the come down?Ē This is completely out of bounds as far as the way the telescopes are normally scheduled. In fact, in general, graduate students, even Caltech graduate students, do not get time on the 48-inch Schmidt unless under certain arrangements, let alone freshmen graduate students without a supervisor from another campus. Nevertheless, the thing went through. Completely outrageous. Well, thatís another story. This is sort of a long story. The next project was a spectroscopic survey of HZ Herculis to get the radial velocity curve. That was done in fact by applying through the correct channels to Kitt Peak for 84-inch time, and that went through. This was because David had been a student of Hoagís the previous summer. So we became extremely self- confident at this point that we could get telescope time. That occupied us for some time. Then we did another project on measuring the radial velocities of a set of M dwarf stars near the North Galactic Pole, which had been the center of some controversy over the local kinematics because the proper motions indicated that they were fairly low velocity objects, and so the radial velocities which we got with the 120-inch, using Len Kuhiís observing time kindly donated for this project, was a step in the direction of solving that problem. But these are just examples of research projects which had followed one after another or in general going on simultaneously, which started me going. And from the very beginning, in other words, there has been no lapse in the flood of ideas. And that to me is what itís all about. A lot of these things, of course, have never seen the light of publication. Most of them have not.

DeVorkin:

But have they led to publications by other people or by you?

Kron:

Some of them have. Some of them were simply chalked up to experience. I mentioned that we had used the 36-inch refractor. Those plates now are being looked at by John Kormendy. So someone is getting some information out of them. For us the project, for very technical reasons, was not successful, but a least we had the experience.

DeVorkin:

Letís spend the time we have left talking about your thesis. We have a little less than ten minutes. How did you come to do your thesis and how did you choose your thesis advisers or vice versa?

Kron:

Iím not really sure how I became interested in cosmology, but I do remember that I took the course in cosmology from Joe Silk at the end of my first year, with the full intention of learning the subject well; so that by that time I did know that I had an interest in cosmology, although I donít really know where it came from. I do remember as a child asking my mother what the faintest objects that had ever been observed were. So that somehow I was interested, you know, in great distances and so on.

DeVorkin:

And yet the idea of the exploration of the universe was repugnant to you.

Kron:

In the space ship sense. In the sense of going out in a space ship, that was repugnant to me, yes. But not exploring the solar system. Well, in any case, the project really got its start at the end of my first year. I was taking a course in stellar systems given by Ivan King, and he suggested a research project that someone could do instead of the term paper: to solve the problem of what is the distribution of red shifts for a given photographic plate. We have lots of fuzzy images which are distant galaxies. And how many of those faint fuzzy objects are greater than a red shift of a half and how many are greater than a red shift of one or whatever. In other words, what is the distribution of red shifts for a range of magnitude? Now, since having taken Joe Silkís course, I wasnít afraid of solving the problem. I had some kind of background. And thatís what I did. The answer was based in the form that you would need to have red shifts for a sufficiently large sample of objects -- namely, a thousand or so -- to be able to test different cosmological models, which is clearly not feasible.

DeVorkin:

Is this a thousand objects over the entire sky?

Kron:

No, in any particular field. Assuming the universe is isotropic and homogeneous, it wouldnít matter how you selected them as long as it was an unbiased sample. Well, the crucial part of the thesis is that instead of measuring actual red shifts, the idea is to measure colors of objects and then in some statistical way to relate the colors to red shifts.

DeVorkin:

Did you realize at the time that Ivan King was trying to find a statistical handle to separate out red shifts from evolutionary effects?

Kron:

We never discussed that.

DeVorkin:

But were you aware of the implications of that?

Kron:

Oh, yes, I was aware of that. Iíve gotten ahead of myself a little bit. The crucial idea is to use colors, and so you get very low quality information about red shifts, but at least you get them wholesale. You get them for thousands of galaxies at once. And at that time the 4-meter telescope at Kitt Peak was just coming up. So the first thing that happened after I got back from the summer of observing HZ Herculis at Kitt Peak -- this was again after having done the distribution-of-redshifts project -- was to arrive back in Berkeley and have Hy Spinrad yell at me at the stairwell, ďWhy donít we send in a proposal for 4ómeter time?Ē And that was when it all started to come together. I had, of course, been drooling at the 4-meter on the mountain, [7] but it never really occurred to me, despite the fact that I had brazenly requested 84-inch time, that in fact this telescope was also available to me. Well, Spinrad and I sent in a proposal. It was postponed for six months because the telescope was not being scheduled for visitors at that time. All right. Well, we did get the time.

DeVorkin:

During that six-month period?

Kron:

Six months after we requested it. We requested it for the spring. We got it for the fall.

DeVorkin:

Is that one thing that slightly delayed your thesis or did you consider this was delayed?

Kron:

No, the thesis was not delayed by that. The thesis is so monolithic that a mere six months at the beginning has no effect. The first observing I did was with Chip (Halton C.) Arp. He and I split nights in August, in fact. Yes, actually it was earlier than the fall.

DeVorkin:

Was it peculiar that you were observing on a Kitt Peak telescope with a Palomar astronomer?

Kron:

I understood that some of the things Chip wanted to do were being done because he wasnít getting as much time as he needed on the 200-inch. Also the 4-meter telescope has a much wider field.

DeVorkin:

A much wider flat field.

Kron:

Yes. So for specific research interests, itís crucial to have the 4-meter as opposed to the 200-inch.

DeVorkin:

Itís a more desirable telescope for many things.

Kron:

Yes. Because it has a 50óarc minute field instead of a 15-arc minute field -- a very wide field.

DeVorkin:

Is that with a corrector?

Kron:

Yes. So this is all prime focus work, using fine grain emulsions in blue and red. So that worked out fine. And subsequently I had something like three or four runs -- I donít remember. So that was where I amassed the main amount of information. Both Ivan King and Hy Spinrad in different ways were behind this. So Ivan is my official thesis adviser, but I have in fact been doing most of my actual research with Hy Spinrad in this business of high red shifts.

DeVorkin:

Because of the colors, too.

Kron:

Yes.

DeVorkin:

The straight observational stuff would naturally be his interest.

Kron:

Right.

DeVorkin:

Okay. Okay, well, weíll have to cut off here for now, but there will be at least 50 or 60 years when we can still talk to you, and I think the initial impressions are quite interesting, so I thank you very much for your time.

Kron:

Youíre welcome.

[1]22-inch Cassegrain reflector

[2]G. Kron's technical associate.

[3]Astronomy (Ginn, 1945).

[4]Exploration of the Universe (Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1963).

[5]Harvard Series on Astronomy published first in the forties.

[6]Patrick Maynard Stuart Blacket - English physicist b. 1897(?)

[7]At Kitt Peak.