Oral History Transcript — Dr. William Wilson Morgan
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William W. Morgan; August 9, 1978
ABSTRACT: Childhood and fatherís influence; high school in Washington, DC. Enters Washington & Lee University, 1923; becomes assistant at Yerkes Observatory, 1926, while continuing courses; B.S., 1927. Marriage to Helen Barrett. Contacts with Otto Struve, Mario Schoenberg, Dmitri Mihalis. Invention of UBV system; work on A-type stars, MK system, Ph.D. Work during 1930s on effects of metals in spectra; revision of HR Diagram, work on ďspotted nessĒ of stellar surface; changes of interest, paper on two-dimensional arrays, 1937. Problems of promotion and tenure at University of Chicago. Struveís administration, departure, and experiences at National Radio Astronomy Observatory. Decision to stay at Yerkes; effects of World War II, including Yerkes Optical Bureau and Greenstein-Henyey camera. Work on spiral arms, work with Walter Baade, William Pendry Bidelman, Jason Nassau; use of Case Schmidt telescope, and Case Survey for OB stars; paper on ďnatural groupsĒ; recognition of spiral arms, 1951; physical collapse, 1952. Yerkes administration under Struve, Bengt StrŲmgren, 1950- 1957, and Gerard Kuiper. Problems at Kitt Peak. Editor at Astrophysical Journal until 1952. Work with William Pendry Bidelman, Harold Johnson on UBV system. Associate at Lick, 1955; interest in forms of galaxies and classification schemes. Visiting professor at Caltech, 1956; contacts at Mt. Wilson; Edwin P. Hubble. Recognition of super giant galaxies, 1960. Alfred Joyís review of Yerkes Spectral Atlas. Director of Yerkes, 1960- 1963; creation of Astronomy Department at University of Texas; plans for Southern Hemisphere Observatory, eventually taken over by Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy. Younger staff departs Yerkes, courses moved to Chicago. Chairman of Astronomy Department, 1960-1966. Wifeís illness and death; own illness in 1966. Also prominently mentioned are: Nathaniel Apter, Geoffrey R. Burbidge, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, G. K. Chesterson, Agatha Christie, Louis Henyey, Lou Hobbs, Henry James, Phillip Keenan, Oliver J. Lee, Aden Meinel, H. R. Morgan, Henry Norris Russell, Alice Weatherspoon, Benjamin Wooten; Marvin College, McDonald Observatory, and Sky and Telescope.
Session I | Session II
DeVorkin:OK, this is a continuation on August 9th, 9:30 in the morning, with
Morgan:Yesterday we finished up discussing spiral structure, but I recall that you had a short recollection, while we were at lunch, of when you first perceived, I believe, the existence of the Perseus Arm? When you were walking between the observatory and your home. Could you recall that?
Well, a tremendous amount of things happened, between about the 1st of September of 1951, and the middle of December. I know that Oort went through here. He was in this country. Actually, he presided at the famous session in Cleveland. It was the day after Christmas, 1951, when there was a sort of a symposium, a one-day thing, in which this material was presented, and he was presiding at the time. He came through here, and I showed him an earlier version of that. It could have been October. I donít know when it was he came through, October, November. But I have no record of that anywhere, I think. It was an earlier version which was only on some latern slides. In fact, it was destroyed to prepare the board for this one, the last one. That had the rudiments. But that must have been about October, somewhere in there. But on this occasion I had been working on the concept of luminosity class, for early type stars, and the sensitivity of a low. dispersion plate that was greatly widened; the differences in luminosity for the B stars, which, in a sense, was completely missing as far as the eye was concerned on high dispersion plates.
I want to emphasize the eye. It is not just a question of the eye, because these in general, the radial velocity plates, were quite narrow, and it was the general custom, at most observatories, perhaps all of them, when this work started — I know particularly at Mt. Wilson — that as one went to fainter stars, one still wanted as high dispersion as possible, for the sake of scale, to get accurate radial velocities. And so the plates were unwidened, and one simply went progressively to lower dispersion, when one couldnít get plates any more of a certain dispersion used for brighter stars. So therefore these plates were narrow. Let us not say definitely unwidened but they were relatively narrow, many of them unwidened. Now it turns out, when one has plates of this type, (at Yerkes we had 30 Angstrom plates) that first to the eye — and this is on widened plates too — the Balmer lines look the same, and if there is any difference a little bit stronger, in the super giants of say B2 or B5 than in Main Sequence stars of the same spectral type. The reason is that one is looking at a narrower feature in the super giants and that the Balmer wings, where a great amount of the total equivalent width comes from, were simply not noticeable because there was nothing to use for comparison. They just gradually tailed out.
However, the problem was implicitly present also in the narrow plates, because one always had the problem of drawing the continuum. And when one had extremely wide wings, say for the Balmer lines, and where the lines are not very strong as in the early Bís, then drawing the continuum low by just a few hundreds of a magnitude, say a tenth of a magnitude, will cut out a large amount of the equivalent width. This discriminates between the high and low luminosity stars. Now with lower dispersion and very broad plates, the whole line integrates up and is much stronger. In fact the old YERKES ATLAS showed this and the new one shows it even more plainly, the one now in preparation. There is a very marked difference. As a matter of fact, for the first time in the ATLAS, we have luminosity effects as early as 0 6, between an 0 6 super giant, and an 0 6 V, that a discriminate is the difference in intensity of the Balmer lines. Now, that does not originate with me. Itís very important. Marguerite Hack and a man working with her named Bato I think, at Trieste, were the first, and this was not known to me. I even had reprints of these things, and with a nice notation on it from Marguerite Hack, whom I know. And here are two papers, one called ďA Two Dimensional Classification for Stars of Class 0,Ē and ďAbsolute MagnitudesĒ is the next one but that doesnít matter. This one here, of date 1962. Now, Nolan Walborn did a brilliant job of introducing luminosity classes in the 0 stars in the early 1970ís, and I have the feeling that he felt that that probably was the first time it had been done.
DeVorkin:He didnít realize that there was earlier work?
Well, his is much more finely divided. But the principle is simple and beautiful. The reason I mention it here is that even as early as Class 0, and Mihalas in some brilliant theoretical work has shown that what you can see on the plates actually observationally, that the helium II does not make very sensible contribution to the Balmer lines, even as early as 06. That is, hydrogen is still holding up that far. You can tell it doesnít because you look at the alternate members of the helium II, and theyíre very, very much weaker than the hydrogen lines. Well anyway, the reason I mention this is that there was a classical paper by Joy, I canít tell you the other, possibly Adams and Joy together, on the determination of spectroscopic absolute magnitudes, as they were then, for the B stars. Then what I superimposed on this was the second factor, namely, the difference in stellar rotation, or line width, whatever you want to call it, which completely destroys or makes it very, very difficult to do anything in this, if one has had high dispersion. And here one of the criteria, one of the reasons for going to as low as possible dispersion, to where one has enough information material present for the classification, is to minimize the effects of stellar rotation.
So this is the problem then, the luminosity classes, together with this selection, and it was just an act of providence, you might say, that this spectrograph, with the camera having a dispersion of around 125 angstroms per millimeter near H had been designed and built in the Yerkes shop, I think by George W. Moffitt, who was an optical man, working here on parallax programs for a few years. Well, in the late 1920ís, it was desired to extend the classical Yerkes radial velocity work to fainter stars. They were at the limit they could get with the lowest dispersion that they used before, normally it was about 30 Angstroms per millimeter. So Moffitt designed this, and it was built in the shops here. It was considered not successful for radial velocity work, and I donít think I need to give the reason. Itís an interesting one, but, itís a certain reflection on construction, it has no bearing on anything else. Anyway, this was just the time when I was getting into this field. The early work on peculiar A stars was done with the 30 Angstrom work, my doctorís thesis and that other business, and also that Yerkes publication of 1935 on the A stars. That was done with the other.
However, it turned out that, by the use of one plate holder instead of a whole series of plate holders, it would work alright. You see, we rotated it 900. They were made for a single spectrum, a long way, and we fixed it so one could take a series of spectra, moving along, 10 or 15, which is very nice on one plate. And it turned out that this was exactly the thing, except that we would have liked to have wider spectra. But they had what was called a planetary window on the slit of the spectrograph, which they used for planets, but this was perfect. I used it with high dispersion, actually. You get very nice spectra — in fact, I have a series of Nova Herculus here, of 1934, with this 30 Angstrom camera. They were all enlarged to the same Coudť dispersion when it was published in England or Scotland or something and this destroyed the quality. But the line visibility is just beyond belief that way. Anyway, this new spectrograph, and the marvelous camera — a four lens, four component camera, which I believe was designed by F. E. Ross, but Iím not certain about that — worked fine, because we could get widened spectra. First we were using the slow Kodak 33 emulsion, which is a marvelous clean emulsion, and there was an Eastman 40 emulsion that was in use at the time, but it had much lower line visibility. The Kodak 33 dropped out in sensitivity very rapidly around 4700, before you even got to H. Actually I go back to those early plates now, to get a certain line visibility on some things, if I have both early plates and later ones.
The later ones were faster plates, perfectly good plates, but the 103 aO and that sort of thing were not as good as the earlier ones. It turned out in the course of 10 or 15 years that this was put into operation in what I called the X series, the final series. I have hundreds of plates taken earlier on film, Agfa film, which got killed by the war. The patents were declared free by the government at the time of World War II. They were in with the German Agfa Ansco. That was a marvelous emulsion. Anyway, the series was started about 1939 for this, and in the 15 or 14 years after that, it turned out that we could get widened spectra and quite accurate results down to about the 10th magnitude. And actually, Rosino, who is now director of the observatory at Merate, I believe in Italy, spent a year here, and he took plates and wrote a very fine paper on the RV Tauri stars, and for this he went to about 11th magnitude with widened spectra. And here I want to emphasize something, which is out of place in this, but I want to be sure and mention it — that the reason for the success, and for the remarkable visibility and sensitivity to luminosity of the plates that are being used in the present YerkesóKPNO ATLAS, are the plates taken with spectrographs designed and construction supervised by A. A. Meinel, who, as far as Iím concerned, is the great genius of the spectrograph and in the optical field of the middle of the 20th century.
He was the first director of the Kitt Peak Observatory, and was responsible, together with Helmut Abt, for the development of the place and location, and he has never gotten anywhere near the recognition he should have. Nowhere near. But itís because of the genius of that man that these plates can get almost uniform intensity all the way from around 3400 clear up to 4800 because the gratings are blazed in the ultraviolet, without terrible loss in speed — that has to be mentioned. That was later on but I want to be sure that it gets in, because this man had no recognition, and he is the person who has done things that other people are now getting credit for at KPNO, and many of the great distinctions of Kitt Peak National Observatory are due to the way that this man started the place out.
Thatís right. And the decisions on things of that sort. Now to get back to the other work. So we had the luminosity classes, which could be determined sensitively in the B stars and which was not possible to do by the classical work at Mt. Wilson on high dispersion. Several works are significant for interstellar absorption. You mentioned the Bottlinger work. The Bottlinger work stands almost by itself, in the quality of the work and the quality of the man who did the work in the earlier days. But this does not detract at all from the great developers like Stebbins. It was the Stebbins work on the hundreds of B stars, Stebbins and his collaborators, which also made possible correcting for interstellar absorption.
Then the next step was nothing that happened here, but was the most magnificent work of Walter Baade. In particular, he resolved N 31, N 32 and NGC 205 with the 100óinch, during the blackout of World War II. But the great development was with the bringing into use of the 200óinch and the Ross Corrector with it, which increased its field. He was supernaturally unselfish and helpful with me, because I remember his saying once, ď...the first good plates I get, Iíll send them to you.Ē And he sent a pair; blue and red plates. The two must have been the very earliest of the plates taken. He simply mailed them to me, and I kept them for an extended period of time. This is the plate that showed the outer arms of M 31 on the red plate, with one feature in particular in the most beautiful arm, which simply looked like the Orion association moved out to that distance, and it turns out that from the distance of N 31 even the scale was similar to the scale of the Barnard loop, with the Orion Nebula sitting at the center. It almost looks like that, actually, and there were many other of these loops. And so this then was the next step. And of course there was the Baade stellar population work, at this time.
Then the question was that of course, among the brighter stars we could pick out early B stars, but there had to be a luminosity classification, except for some obvious ones that have Pís on them in the earlier classification, and one isnít even sure what they are exactly. Then, Dr. Nassau invited me to Cleveland. We had some correspondence, and he invited me to Cleveland as a continuing guest investigator. This was in the very earliest days of the Schmidt telescope, the Warner and Swasey Observatory there. And in a little while I recommended a program, when it was obvious how this was to be done. We needed dispersions around 275 angstrom, millimeter, something like that. It was quite enough to pick out what we were looking for. One could not classify the B stars in two dimensions accurately by means of it, however, there are a lot of types that have been published, and which clutter up catalogues of MK spectral types, because theyíre inaccurate by a factor of five or ten over with the normal classification dispersion.
DeVorkin:Five or ten?
Well, five times less accurate. You can be off by half of a spectral type, and you cannot discriminate in some things at all. But you can do one thing, and this is something which developed in the course of the work with Nassau, and which is in Volume 10 of the University of Michigan publications, which was devoted to the dedication symposium of the CurtisóSchmidt telescope at Ann Arbor in 1950. There are two papers in this, one by Nassau on the arrangement in space of B stars, which at that time had not gone far enough to show anything but a beautiful Gould belt and things of this type. But my own paper in it was a description of what was called Natural Groups in Stellar Spectra. And this, I must say, was a crucial development in the whole process, because this for the first time showed that while we could not get accurate spectral types for the high luminosity B stars from this dispersion, we could lay out on a two dimensional diagram — an HR Diagram — a certain region which had relatively low range in luminosity (vertical in the HR Diagram), but quite a range horizontally.
But this did not hurt, because of the mean luminosity for these kinds of stars, for the la Superó giants as we called them later on. It made it possible, by just a glance, a few seconds at each spectrum, down to the 10th magnitude, with plates with the CurtisóSchmidt, to tell if a star was located either in this area, which I labeled OB stars, where the lowest luminosity, if it was done with care, would be around ó3Ĺ visual absolute magnitude, and the brightest was of course the brightest around ó7. Well, now, you say 3Ĺ is a lot. But the means were around ó5 or ó6. Now, this was the crucial development, this was the crucial conceptual development. This was then applied to a program which Dr. Nassau and his associates and helpers worked on. We worked on this jointly, and this was all done, as far as the plate taking was concerned, and I believe all the classification, the segregation of OB stars was done in Cleveland. I used to go there for a week or so every few months, for a number of years.
DeVorkin:The students were there.
Morgan:The students were not working on this program. His assistants, they were taking the plates. Nassau and I did all the classifying. And at the end of it, I went over the whole thing in one day, to be sure that there werenít systematic effects between winter and summer. Because when I did it, it turned out that there were marked systematic effects. The seeing is systematically poor in the winter. And so the resolution the narrowness of this area where the OB stars occur, this was less, it was wider, it went down to low luminosities in the winter, for two reasons: one, because the seeing was poor, and the second, there are relatively few OB stars in that part of the sky, and when they are very few, thereís a tendency in human beings to want to get some, and you tend to decrease your discrimination somewhat, you understand?
Morgan:This is also true actually in the BD CATALOGUE. You may not know it, or not.
DeVorkin:In the BD, for magnitude?
Well, you see, if you look at the Orion region in the old BD CATALOGUE, way back, 1855 or so, you look at the charts, and you look at the Belt of Orion, thereís not a trace of a cluster, no fainter stars around the Belt. Well, now it turns out that there is a cluster there. I think it has a Trumpler number 100 years later, 75 years later, and I took some pictures with a little Leica camera, and itís just a very marked subclustering. Now, two things happened. First, in crowded regions where there were lots of stars, the BD observers missed some — remember, this was a transit observation, they had to take it as it went across the meridian with a reticule transit. So they took fewer stars. And the second is, in the Henry Draper CATALOGUE, thereís a systematic effect, for faint stars there. A B star can be classified as faint as B8. And the Blís and B2ís can be B3ís to B5ís or even as faint as B9ís. So both distribution on the sky, of the BD chart, where you see no clustering there whatever, and also, from spectral types, from the Draper CATALOGUE, there was no concentration.
There were no brighter stars there. You understand? Now, it turned out that this is one of those things that happen. And this is the way we increase the resolution of methodology, by discovering these things. Some of them are rather obvious, but you have to have new and better observational methods, methodology, to find these things. And this is the most striking example I know, of where a beautiful clustering, which is one of the principal subclusterings, in the Orion association, simply was not visible before. OK? Well, Iím diverging a little on it. Well anyway, this was carried out. We had a Belt I believe 10 degrees wide, as far south as we could get around through the sky, and this was published in a catalogue of OB stars. This was the basic catalogue that was used here then for taking slit spectrograms of as many of those stars as possible. And that then was the basic material which led, in 1951, to the work that showed the spiral arms. Now, you were asking about this actual occasion.
So this was going along, you know, and one had hundreds of stars by 1951, several hundred. And one was looking at how these were and so on. Remember, there was nothing whatever known about arms before. You have to remember this, because one goes back and thinks, well, you knew there was a tilt there, stuff like that, there were certain things at certain distances. Itís very hard to translate oneself back in time. Translate, the Latin, translate means to move, not to change from one language to another — move from one place to another, see. All right, to translate back to an earlier time, and to get into the frame of mind and the limitations that people were working in at that time — because the situation has completely changed. For example, six months after this thing was announced, the first radio observations were made which showed two maxima in the direction of the Perseus arm — one of which was our own arm nearby, and another maximum out at a radial velocity which was clearly identified with the stars Guido Munch had worked on. And also Guido Munch did the most brilliant thing optically. You see, the 100óinch will not to to the North Pole, will not go that far north, and that northern part of the Perseus arm was out of the range. As soon as the 200óinch came available and as he got time to do it, he got spectra of the stars in the region of the double cluster in Perseus, in the Perseus arm, and they had beautifully double K lines, with velocities. And this was the thing that simply nailed the thing down.
Well, anyway, so this was in the fall of 1951, and I was walking between the observatory and home, which is only 100 yards away. I was looking up in the sky, the northern sky, just looking up in the region of the Double Cluster, and I realized I had been getting distance moduli corrected the best way I could with colors that were available, for numbers of stars in the general region. These are old longitudes, remember. This is before people decided they knew exactly where the galactic nucleus was and therefore changed the whole system. There will always be corrections, you know. You know that. And everyone is used to the other, itís closer, but itís not the final thing at all, you see.
DeVorkin:Right. So this is the old 11.
Thatís right. Anyway, I was walking. I was looking up at the sky, and it suddenly occurred to me that the double cluster in Perseus, and then a number of stars in Cassiopeia, these are not the bright stars but the distant stars, and even Cepheus, that along there I was getting distance moduli, of between 11 and 12, corrected distance moduli. Well, 11.5 is two kiloparsecs, you see, and so, I couldnít wait to get over here and really plot them up. It looked like they were at the same distance, you see. It looked like a concentration. One didnít have a scatter. There was strong concentration between about 11 and 12. In other words, there was a sigma there of a half a magnitude probably. And so, as soon as I began plotting this out, the first thing that showed up was that there was a concentration, a long narrow concentration of young stars. The main thing, is, remember, we worked with H II regions, the very first thing of all, but even then there are H II regions along there too, as you can see over there.
And that was the thing that broke down. Then the next thing, I plotted it out, but the hardest thing is to know whatís going on if youíre in the middle of something, or if itís going right through you. So when I plotted out the Perseus arm, I then plotted out the other stars, and it turned out that through the sun, only just a little bit farther out from the galactic center than the sun, a mean, all the way from Cygnus again, out almost to two kiloparsecs, for the most distant things there, to about one kiloparsec past the sun on the other side, there was this narrow lane, which was parallel to the other one, you see. So thatís the way it happened. It was a burst of realization. It was not a question of a reasoned process of steps, that led to this at all. It was something that was going on, you know, in the subconscious, something that we donít understand, but is actually the most important thing of all as far as discoveryís concerned in every area. There are very good books on this in pure mathematics. In fact, my dean, who was a great pure mathematician, said one of his proofs came to him during his sleep. I said, ďYouíre not pulling my leg at all?Ē ďNo, Iím not pulling your leg.Ē Re was Adrian Albert, a very fine internationally known mathematician.
Heís dead now. There are fine books about discovery in the mathematical field by Jacques Hademard, and I think itís in the Harper Torch book series, paperback. But it goes back to the great book written around 1900 by the great celestial mechanician Poincare. All right, but the main thing thatís of interest to me about this is that there was no syllogistic operation — given this, then this, and then this, and all that sort of thing. Nothing whatever. It was a flash. And this is the way things come, in flashes — everything that Iíve ever been concerned with in discovery, has been a question of flashes. That doesnít mean one develops them. One had better get them down somewhere, if itsí the middle of the night, or theyíre dead the next morning. You donít know that you have them. All right, then, this was developed in two principal stages. I have some old slides, I donít know where they are just now, that showed an earlier stage of this, where I was using old sponge rubber for those, and they werenít resolved out, as they are there.
DeVorkin:You are referring to the diagram on your wall?
DeVorkin:Which is also on the cover of SKY AND TELESCOPE?
Part, the central part, is on the cover of SKY AND TELESCOPE. So anyway, this was then gotten together and was presented. Then of course there was no information on the Southern Hemisphere. You could say that M 8 was in the Southern Hemisphere at least. But there I used four major concentrations of early B stars, and for this I say I used the Henry Draper Extension by Miss Cannon. She had, bless her, a category she called BO. But it turns out, if you want to translate that from the things you look at, that BO could almost be considered to be a good approximation to what we had called the OB category in the Natural Group thing. Itís a fantastic thing but itís true. The hydrogen lines were weak. Everything was weak.
Now, in addition to that I did take some plain B spectra or BO because there are many, many of them, and it turns out that itís the most fortunate thing in the world. Of course, one now observes in the south and gets these things. The thing that was most interesting was my work on the Carina region, for which, of course, I had no spectra at all. The distance was determined from Z, assuming that the Z extent was the same as that for the Orion association, around 75 parsecs. This is the extension in latitude, galactic latitude. Now, since itís richer it turned out that I got a distance of about 2600 parsecs by doing that, just from that one thing alone.
DeVorkin:For the Carina region.
Morgan:Thatís right. And at the present time the best determinations that I know about, from the spectra themselves, range a few hundred parsecs on either side of that. This is by accident. All right, anyway, one could see that if you look at the wall chart and the large chalk marks, for three of them, faint low surface chalk, not the small ones ó these were determined by means of this Z coordinate thing Iím speaking to you about. So this was presented then at a symposium in Cleveland, the American Astronomical Society meeting in Cleveland the day after Christmas, 1951. And it was greeted in a great way. Struve wrote about it actually in an ASP leaflet, the series has unfortunately been discontinued. He wrote a leaflet about the discovery of the spiral arms, and he describes the reaction to this work at the meeting. You like personal things? Iíll tell you a personal thing. Oort had introduced me, and then when he sat down to listen, he sat down in my seat,
Morgan:Yes. It was one of these steeply sloping classrooms at Case with the seats all the way up high. Well, the first thing was that I had no place to sit down when I got through. The second thing was people started to applaud by clapping their hands, but then they started stamping their feet. It was quite an experience. I have to say though, that a few months later I was in the hospital with a complete breakdown. The paper was only partly written, it was never completed. So the major paper never appeared. The only thing that appeared was an abstract in the ASTRONOMICAL JOURNAL from the meeting and a popular presentation in SKY AND TELESCOPE in April 1952.
DeVorkin:Do you have the manuscript of the paper that was never published?
Morgan:Itís in the office but it may take me a week to find it. Itís only partially completed. Itís a descriptive paper. Itís a pity, but anyway itís past. I was having a complete personal crisis at the time.
DeVorkin:You were talking about the partially finished paper.
Morgan:Yes. It was nowhere near finished, actually. Just a fragment. I saw it as late as ten years ago. You understand, Iíve been in this office since about 1938 or so, and I have material upstairs in a storeroom. I wouldnít try to lay my hand on it. I might find it in an hour and it might take me a week.
DeVorkin:If you do have opportunity to go through and you find it, please save it. We would also appreciate a copy.
Morgan:All right, if you want it. Sure. It was to show pictures and things. Well, anyway, so thatís that. I would like for you to check up on what I said about this meeting. Will you look up the Struve pamphlet?
Morgan:Please, will you look it up? Iíd like to have something that ties into what Iím saying from time to time. Not that you doubt what Iím saying, but there are overtones, impressions one gets, ought to be in here. And you should have a documentary thing for it. Now, itís true you know that some time later, Munch had gotten the double lines in Perseus, in the Perseus arm, you understand (Pause)
DeVorkin:Weíre talking about SKY AND TELESCOPE.
Morgan:SKY AND TELESCOPE, in my opinion, is absolutely great -- and Federer is the man who made it what it is. One has to say that. Re is now retired, but it certainly is being maintained under Ashbrook, the present editor. That is the most remarkable American journal. There are two absolutely remarkable American scientific magazines. We always think of the British. Theyíve always been gifted over the years in the fine quality of their scientific magazines, especially popularization. SKY AND TELESCOPE and SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN, those two publications, to me, stand out in the whole history of their field as being works of genius, both of them. Itís remarkable. Now, Gerard Piel is a very discriminating man. Re knows how to pick his editors and so on. But in astronomy, SKY AND TELESCOPE to me, the role of SKY AND TELESCOPE in astronomy — and Iím a professional astronomer, Iím talking about both professional astronomers and others — is quite equal to any other research publication thatís coming out in the field at the present time. Not that the research articles arenít printed in other places. But the things are presented in SKY AND TELESCOPE, and put together at a level that amateurs can understand perfectly well, and also it has a very definite value for professional astronomers as well, SKY AND TELESCOPE.
DeVorkin:Row would you compare SKY AND TELESCOPE to the old POPULAR ASTRONOMY?
Morgan:Well, itís an entirely different sort of thing. There you see SKY AND TELESCOPE is beautifully distinctive because of its pictures, but the text is very high quality too. POPULAR ASTRONOMY was being run on a shoestring up at Carleton College, and now they donít have any professional astronomers. They always had two professional astronomers. But they had a little observatory up there, and itsí no longer being run by professional astronomers, I understand. POPULAR ASTRONOMY was a record of meetings, with popular articles, to a certain extent, but actually, one has to get into the world of 1910 to 1930, to get into that world; for those days, and for what was available, it was marvelous. But when we see all thatís happened in astronomy and to astronomy, and also in technological improvements, the role of SKY AND TELESCOPE at the present time, to me, is more distinctive, and is more completely realized than POPULAR ASTRONOMY could have been, but thatís also because they didnít have good facilities there. Remember, you go back to a time when color illustrations and all these sorts of things were not done. And I just hope that nothing happens to SKY AND TELESCOPE, in the direction of what has happened to some other publications in the country, popular publications.
DeVorkin:We do see more color recently in SKY AND TELESCOPE, but I havenít seen any dimunition in the quality of the articles.
Morgan:Iím not making a distinction because of the color. That was simply a technological remark. Because thereís another popular scientific publication in this country that uses color, that is simply in a lower world completely than SKY AND TELESCOPE, and Iím not going to say what it is. If you know what it is, youíre not as perceptive as I think you are.
DeVorkin:I know what youíre talking about, we talked about it last night.
Morgan:I donít want to get into any lawsuits on this either. The point is the high quality of the people in SKY AND TELESCOPE. Federer was not a professional astronomer, but he was a very remarkable person. He had the insights, he had the discrimination of quality in research astronomy. At the same time, he was a terrific reporter type person. And I do not know anyone else in that class in this country, that has ever been, in this country, anybody.
DeVorkin:Well, Ashbrook certainly is professional.
Morgan:Yes, heís very, very good. I donít know him well. I donít mean that Iím discriminating down from Federer to Ashbrook. Theyíre different kinds of people. But the fact that a man like Ashbrook feels itís worth his while to spend his career at the present time on SKY AND TELESCOPE shows how fine the magazine is, that heís willing to do it. Then I was out of astronomy, from around March, February or March of 1952, until about, well, actually until October 1. I had a complete collapse.
DeVorkin:Can you talk about the events that led up to that?
Morgan:You mean, personal events? No.
DeVorkin:Not necessarily personal, but letís talk about the institutional events, what was happening here at the observatory, postóWorld War II, and the reorganization of the observatory.
Morgan:Well, the people returned around 1945, of course, Kuiper came back. And then, Struve, not long after this, decided that he preferred not to be an observatory director any longer. This was a personal decision, and I would rather not go into details on that. You see, there is such a thing as being too close to a person, for some sorts of things, to observe too closely. He was both partly German and partly Russian, and he would get sort of ďdepressedĒ (the word is not quite right because one thinks of the classical depressed type and it was not that) or he would get very low in a certain way.
Morgan:Well, even frustrated, thereís no word for it exactly. Put it this way — a certain type of characteristic which is sometimes associated with the Russian temperament, but I donít think itís any different from other countries. Someone made the remark at one time, a person who was not speaking in a friendly manner, that Struve had the somewhat difficult characteristics of both the Germans and the Russians. I would not say anything like that myself. He was a great astronomer, and if I talk about him at all, I should talk about his greatness, together with anything else. Iím not going to do that. So he made a move which came into effect in 1947. He arranged for Kuiper to become director of the Yerkes Observatory, and he arranged for me to become editor of the ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL — to take over (from him) as managing editor of the ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL. And the plan was made that Chandrasekhar would he head of a theoretical astrophysical institute. I donít know whether it was to be a formal grouping within the observatory, the university, or not, but Chandra was to be head of something, and I donít believe that that ever developed. I never saw that it developed.
DeVorkin:Did he consult with you and others about this — did you have meetings?
Morgan:No. He did it by his own initiative. He may have had meetings with others. I was not in high favor at the time, because of certain happenings that I prefer not to talk about. We were not on extremely close personal terms, although there was never a time when we did not respect each other deeply. All right, so in 1947, I became editor. Kuiper became director of the observatory. And this went on then until 1950, and he went out as director of the observatory at that time, and became just a professor again.
Morgan:Well, StrŲmgren was brought in. Stromgren had been here before the war. Struve arranged through the administration that StrŲmgren would come and be director in 1950. Now, I donít want to get into some of the things here, about living people. My life would be completely impossible if some things got out. This was something that was not accepted cheerfully by some of the tenured members of the staff, this change.
DeVorkin:With Stromgren coming in?
Well, particularly a very influential senior member of the staff who felt that he hadnít been consulted, and was very put out about it, although he had earlier been a very close friend of Stromgrenís. So Stromgren came, and became director in 1950. Then there were other people coming in. We had a number of distinguished people who came in. Of course, I doní t know when Guido Munch left. Munch and Henyey both left. But these are two of the most brilliant people ever to pass through the Yerkes Observatory, compared with everyone in the world. No one is their superior at all. Blaauw was on the staff also, and the Burbidges somewhat later. I was out most of the year 1952, but there was opposition to Stromgren, by several of the senior members of the department. (I was not involved.) Their influence was so great that the administration reóappointed Stromgren, not for another three year appointment but for a one year appointment, which is about as much of a slap in the face for a person who was brought over as could be.
You understand? However, this was a minority of the group, but a couple of very influential people, in fact, the top people in the department were for it. And they had as a satellite a younger person who went along with them. In the course of the months after that, there happened a remarkable thing. The younger people, the other people on the staff got together and managed, by the number of their votes that they had compared to these few senior staff who had precipitated this move, to in effect reverse it. So sometime during that year, Stromgren was reóappointed for three more years. Now, that brings it up to Ď57. Now, the people who were in on that were people such as Dan Harris. He did not have tenure, but Dan Harris and a man who went to the Naval Observatory later and has been there ever since, distinguished man in the time service, were involved. There were a number of the younger ones who swung it. One of them was in charge of setting up the teaching program, and simply dealt out for a year one of the top people in the whole department who had led the way on this move. Didnít put him down for any teaching. (laughs)
DeVorkin:Was Burbidge involved in this?
Morgan:No. Burbidge just came after this, I think. All right, the result was that StrŲmgren chose to leave at the end of 1957, although he had told me personally that he would have been willing to stay on, but his wife could not bear to be at the same place with a person that she had considered their friend from many years, who had led the move earlier against StrŲmgren.
DeVorkin:And you wonít name him?
Morgan:No, I will not. If you canít figure out who it is you are not very perceptive. So then what happened was that the department voted for Kuiper to come back in. Now, he had actually gone out in 1950 under difficulties, and I wonít go into that. He was in effect in a certain sense moved out. So exactly ten years later to the year, his first term was Ď47 to Ď50 and his second term was Ď57 to Ď60. The Burbidges came along somewhere in this time. We had Meinel here, very distinguished person and we lost him to first pick a place, then to organize and finally build the Kitt Peak National Observatory, and he did that very well. Abt went with him, but Meinel was the person who handled that. You may not know it, but Meinel was fired as director of the observatory. I gave the dedication address. The night before the dedication address for that, Meinel was fired by the governing board.
DeVorkin:Before the dedication?
Morgan:The night before the dedication. They met the night before the dedication. And it almost killed him. He was out cold, almost unconscious for a good part of the year after that. Thatís right.
DeVorkin:Did you know that theyíd done that when you gave the address?
DeVorkin:How would you have reacted if youíd known?
Morgan:Well, what could I do? This later, weíre now in a different period, and I was having plenty of problems of my own. You see, I had accepted the chairman and directorship, just before the beginning of 1960 year. And I was ill at the time, I told you. I gave the dedication address when I had a staphylococcus infection. So I had problems of my own but I was very distressed by it, because I knew how it happened. I know how it happened very well. Iím not going to tell it on here. This was a follow over from the Lick Observatory period, when Meinel was at Lick, and when there was a certain clique there which became very powerful in the KPNO organization later. And thatís not going out in your final thing either. You can put that away, but, I will delete that. It wonít be destroyed but you can put it away and it has to be kept till the people are dead. Now, Iíll carry the historical part through. So then Kuiper became director again, and Str8mgren went first to the Institute for Advanced Studies, Princeton, where he had Einsteinís office, and I think he built a house there, beautiful house, and he was there for some time. And the reason for his going back to Denmark later, I think it must have been a family thing, emotional, which is perfectly proper.
DeVorkin:But he was given a tremendous honor back in Denmark, the Niels Bohr Chair, something like?
Morgan:Fine, if you think thatís the reason. When one considers things like this, one always considers what one would have done under the same circumstances. Whether one would have considered a scientific career which was fertilized by proximity to the people in a certain place, or a great honor like this, and it certainly was properly due, Iím sure. That has nothing to do with this place anyway. Anyway, Stromgren left and I felt very sorry because, while we were never close friends, it was marvelous to have him here, and I liked him very much indeed.
DeVorkin:How did you regard him, first as an astronomer, then as a director?
Morgan:As an astronomer, you see, he was a very remarkable theoretician. He was a highly distinguished theoretician. You know his H II region work. But in addition to that, he wanted to make his own observations. And he spent years developing something which never got finished, unfortunately, probably because of his departure — a multióchannel color instantaneous photometer. In fact, the way that light went through paths, you wouldnít believe it. He got about 10 or 15 different points simultaneously, you see.
DeVorkin:That must have been one of the first attempts to do that.
Morgan:That was, yes. That was on the floor of the 40óinch dome for a long time. And it was a very interesting thing. Unfortunately, the other thing came up with regard to his directorship, and it stayed here and he left. And in the observational area he has always been able to get the observations he needed. This in a sense is a continuation of the a priori approach. The reason I mention it is that this discriminates Str8mgren from, say, a person like Walter Baade. Am I communicating something or not?
DeVorkin:Expand on this.
Morgan:Well, Baade, of course, was no slouch in theoretical remarks about his work and interpretations too, of course. But he was the discoverer type, where again the specimens meant the most. And he was an artist. He was the supreme artist in observations of the period of his activity. And Schwarzschild in a certain sense, Karl Schwarzschild, was too. When you consider the kind of instrumentation he was able to use and all that — he was at least Baadeís equal. Iím talking about the Gottingen Actinometry and things of this sort, you see. Furthermore, he was one of the great theoreticians of all time. So Stromgren was an able theoretician. Iím not capable of judging that but I know he was. And he has certainly continued all these years on his multiócolor, three, fourócolor photometry; has done extremely important work in this, which continues. Itís one of the continuing very important things. As a director he was a very fine gentleman, if I may put it that way. You see, the question is, when one has a full life and a range of interests, one has to choose where he spends his time. And a directorship is always at the expense of things, unless one likes the idea of power, and Stromgren was as far from that as one could possibly be, and his directorship was not highly successful. However, if he had had complete cooperation from the members of the staff, it could have been highly successful. OK?
DeVorkin:Yes. How was Kuiper as a director?
Morgan:Well, that was almost as if one was observing a reórun, if one had saved the film that gave the history of the first period — the three years he was on first. Simply a reórun of that.
DeVorkin:But the first time he was here, Struve was still probably over him?
Morgan:This was a very difficult thing, and his health was almost ruined by it.
Morgan:Struveís. He was in the office where the lounge is now, Struve was, and they had office doors connecting. He had taken it. Of course, Kuiper as director, considered he was going to be completely independent. All right. But Struve, from the very beginning thought it was clear, after Kuiper became director, that Struve was still to be over Kuiper. He retained the chairmanship of the department. And I can remember hearing him call Kuiper down the hall, and have Kuiper run all the way up here, to get there. He had an ulcer for a while.
Morgan:Yes. It was difficult. So in that sense it was very different, as you say. Correct. The second time around, Kuiper was a great astronomer. You see, different people use labels for the same thing. And I would say that among the astronomers that Iíve known since Iíve been here, on this staff, that weíve had, Kuiper was one of the best. This is for the activity done while here at this place. I consider Louis Henyey a great astronomer. But the work that he did, which I would base that on, was out in California. At Berkeley. Stellar evolution, thatís right. Of the ones who did their work here, to me there were two very great astronomers. Now, the emphasis also is on the word ďastronomer,Ē and that would be Struve and Kuiper.
DeVorkin:Kuiper did his best work here?
Morgan:He did great work, very fine work here. He did fine work before he came here. Now, remember, I put emphasis on astronomer. I donít say anything about mathematician. OK?
DeVorkin:Why wasnít his second directorship renewed? Why did he leave?
Morgan:Well, he had such a passionate concern and involvement in his research work, that in a certain sense one could almost say that the means were justified by the ends.
DeVorkin:He was a pragmatist, in that sense?
Morgan:No, I mean that if one felt that something had to be done, one wasnít too particular as to just exactly how he got it done. And this brought him into difficulties, both with the administration in Chicago, and also with the staff. And there was a rebellion against Kuiper, in the staff. This was a completely different kind of thing from the one in the early 1950ís that I mentioned to you before. When StrŲmgren was here. And there was a very concentrated group rebellion. I would not say for a moment that they did not have a good case. I was not a part of it. I was the person who was not associated with either of these groups, and this is why I got offered the chairmanship and directorship later.
DeVorkin:Were the same people who objected to Str8mgren objecting to Kuiper? Or was it a different group?
Morgan:No, you see, most of those were gone. Harris was dead, and the man who went to Naval Observatory was gone and Meinel was gone, and those people, remember they were not tenured people.
DeVorkin:The young ones.
Morgan:Itís remarkable, how they did it. So this was Geoffrey Burbidge, the Burbidges were here. In this case one mentions Geoffrey Burbidge in particular. I donít like to put hearsay down, and unless I heard someone say something myself, Iíd rather not. There are other people here who were in the group. And as far as Geoffreyís concerned, heís an honest man. I have tremendous respect for him. We need more people in the world who will blurt out the truth and what they feel, at the expense of whatever happens after that, rather than either turning the face away, or pussyfooting on things. This doesnít make for easy administration and that sort of thing, but this is what we need everywhere in everything now.
DeVorkin:Do you think heís going to be a positive influence at Kitt Peak?
Morgan:I am very pleased. At first, I felt that, when one considered what it did to the life of the family and everything like that — Margaret has had a very difficult time, which is not her fault at all — I was hoping, before Iíd even thought about Burbidge, that a certain other person would accept it. But he turned it down. And after thinking it over, when I hear that heíd been appointed, I felt so strongly that he is certainly going to make waves, but the way things are in that organization, some waves are going to have to be made, or its nature will change. And we were speaking about the disintegration of the elites a little while ago in another connection, and this is another very spectacular case. Now, I am not aiming anything at Leo Goldberg. This is very important. Goldberg is a person who accepted the job there, went from Harvard, moved in, and a hatchet job had to be done when he arrived or the place would have ceased to have any outside respect at all in many places, many quarters.
DeVorkin:What was happening?
Morgan:I donít want to get into that. The people are alive.
DeVorkin:Canít you just say the trends? What were the trends? What was happening?
Morgan:Well, the weakness of the director had gotten so strong — when a vacuum is present in an organization, it always gets filled some way or other — that a nonóastronomer, a man who was not any astronomer in any sense, was in fact calling the shots out at KPNO. He made major decisions. And Goldberg, immediately went to this man and fired him. As a matter of fact, there are lawsuits still going on around this. This has to be on the restricted list, because this man is still suing KPNO even at the present time, all these years later. He told the man, ďYouíre fired, and you must be out of your office by 5 PM this afternoon.Ē Because he had satellites in the whole place, followers in the place.
Morgan:Yes. I donít know what youíd call him.
Morgan:No. He could have been a CPA or something like that. Itís gotten very stylish, and one hears it everywhere, to criticize Leo Goldberg for the KPNO situation and for the things he did there. I am NOT a party to any of that. A man of Goldbergís type was a necessity when he moved in there. He did the job that needed to be done. Along the way, the man got into some personal quandaries, about which I will not criticize anything connected with it. If Iíd been in the same situation, who knows what I would have done too? But he did the job that had to be done at that time. Now, he is criticized for having brought in people that are not able to do service for others, making it more of an independent place, rather than a serviceótype place.
DeVorkin:How do you feel about that?
Morgan:Well, the problem is, where do you draw the line? One canít have just a bunch of lackeys running around, and people of no distinction whatever. And people were brought in who are not highly distinguished as research people in astronomy. They turned out to be very successful. They got observing time of their own and did important research work, and at the same time, they took the service part of the thing very seriously. Iíve seen a person like Art Hoag, who was a magnificent person in the job. Well, he was not tremendously distinguished in astronomy, although heís a very good research man. And there were one or two others. Thereís no point in going into detail about the others. Hoag is gone, of course, now. And when a revolution is needed and is created, as a famous revolutionary once remarked, namely Lenin, ďRevolutions are not made with kid gloves on.Ē Goldberg did what needed to be done — at that point, at that time. And I donít think thereís another astronomer in the country who could have gone in there, would have gone in there, and would have done what needed to be done. This has to be put away for a while, because itís indirect criticism of a person who has been my friend. Anyway, I am going a long way with you on this and you have got to cooperate with me on it, OK?
Morgan:Iím taking it that way, all right. Iím not criticizing Goldberg. You asked me about Geoffrey Burbidge. I mentioned a little earlier that I was somewhat startled to hear that Geoffrey Burbidge was being considered for director of Kitt Peak Observatory. This was not any detraction or anything against Burbidge himself, but the fact that the situation has evolved into a somewhat fragmented one already, within the staff is a very difficult problem. And it is a question whether a man of Burbidgeís quality, not particularly noted for administrative ability, would want to get into a thing like that. Later on, when I found out what the developments had been, I felt that Burbidge could be exactly the person to do the job, and I couldnít think of anyone else. And I went so far that I wrote him a letter at this time. I knew heíd been offered the job. I didnít know heíd accepted it. I wrote him and told him that Iíd heard a rumor that heíd accepted it and I hoped it was true, because I felt he could do it. I felt it would be a very difficult job and a thankless job, but I felt heíd be able to do it, and that he was a big enough man to where he could take what went along with it. I wrote him a letter to that effect, and I had a note back thanking me for it. Now, the reason I wrote that letter was a little more complex than that. And I told Margaret Burbidge this, when I saw her at Madison a little while ago. I was thinking he might still be thinking about it, and I wanted at least to put in a strong word of endorsement for him, while he was thinking about it so he wouldnít necessarily turn it down because of that.
DeVorkin:How did she feel about it?
Morgan:I donít know. I didnít ask her.
DeVorkin:How familiar were you with her Greenwich year?
Morgan:Well, somewhat familiar. I was in correspondence. She has been a friend for many years, since they were here.
DeVorkin:Her 18 months in England seemed to be quite a controversial time.
Morgan:Well, it wasnít controversial as far as my information went. She just took a job that was offered to her as being a certain job and it turned out not to be the job that she thought she was taking. Thatís what it amounts to. And she wasnít her own boss, and did not have the support she should have had. You see, observational astronomy in England has not gone through lower phases than anything since the preóHerschelian period. In recent years in England. This is optical, not radio. Radio is great, I mean, the Cambridge radio work is great, and their theoretical work and their work in optical design is top notch. But as far as what we call in this country observational astronomy, it has been at a very low level. There are good people, that came away for a while and then left for good. Of course, this will not last forever. They have good instrumentation now in Australia. But it is a very different situation from what it was before all these people left, a generation before.
DeVorkin:I know the big question was, what to do with the Isaac Newton Telescope, the large telescope. Were there issues there that involved Geoffrey Burbidge at all?
Morgan:I donít know. The Isaac Newton Telescope in its present location, as far as doing modern astronomy, large instrument astronomy, is hopeless, because of the location.
DeVorkin:Right. And that was the central, the primary issue?
Morgan:I donít know. I canít tell you what the primary issue was. The primary thing, as far as this situation was concerned was, they were getting back one of the worldís outstanding astronomers, astronomical teams, as Geoffrey was living with her. They were together, of course. And that meant that certain things had to give, and certain different orientations had to be made, both in personnel and in observing programs and attitudes. And these were not made. Thatís all I want to say about that.
DeVorkin:OK. When I asked you about institutional things here, at Yerkes, and asked you to go back to the postwar period, I was hoping that you would give me some view of what is was like to be APJ editor during the period, I understand, when the whole refereeing process changed.
Morgan:I enjoyed it very much. It was difficult. It took a lot of time. I had a very good secretary, in fact more than a secretary, extremely good. And the whole thing was in this office here. I enjoyed it very much, and actually, when I was in the hospital even, I was getting letters from people Iíd worked with, like Merrill at Mt. Wilson. I have a whole catalogue of these, group of them, expressing appreciation and hoping that I would continue after I recovered from my illness, you see. Youíll get a different story on this. I donít care what the official version in my department is on that. As a matter of fact, people were extremely pleased at the way it was handled. The first thing I did was drive all the way West to tell Paul Merrill, who was their man in charge of their publications out there, that the University of Chicago Press had found out, through some misunderstanding, that in effect other people had been paying for publication of the Yerkes articles. They were saving money on that.
DeVorkin:This was in Ď47?
Morgan:I went out and told him that to his face, because itís the sort of thing I will not write. Itís the first time I ever drove West. And it was handled. It went beautifully. And of course we had the thing stopped immediately. The Yerkes papers were being published practically for nothing, and thatís the way it was. Well, also, the refereeing part was a very interesting thing, and I would like to give you an example of the sort of thing, the way it was. Zelenek Kopal, who was at Harvard at the time, submitted a paper on the orbit of some spectroscopic binary, I donít remember what it was, could have been an eclipsing binary, too. This was the spectrographic orbit. From only three observations. He had only three plates. I turned the paper down. I turned the paper down and sent back a rejection. I got a very strong letter from Shapley, telling me Iíd done the wrong thing. ďUrgingĒ isnít the word, telling me that it had to be reversed, in effect.
DeVorkin:This was because of the type of refereeing?
Morgan:No. I did this myself. I refereed myself. I was editor. You know, I refereed some things myself. But Shapley argued that Kopalís paper should be published; any paper from Harvard or something, I donít know. I stuck to it. The rejection held. I give you this example because I have the feeling it may not be exactly like that now.
DeVorkin:I see, in terms of the present editorship?
Morgan:Iím just saying that is what I did in those days. First of all, if they complained about it, I would get a second referee, and not to confirm the first or anything of the sort, you see. The referees were kept confidential, and that was to me the absolute root of the whole thing. They had to be kept confidential. If you hadnít, just like refereeing for NSF on things. If theyíre not confidential, no referee is going to spoil his personal relationships by identifying himself, if heís going to tell the truth about something. Otherwise, what good is a referee opinion, if you donít keep it confidential, his identity? It was very nice. I got very strong support. This is sort of silly, to talk like this, except that the implication might have been made that when I did not get the editorship back when I recovered and came home, that there was something wrong with the way Iíd run the APJ. And I want to say that I absolutely refuse to accept any such thing because it simply was not true. Lyman Spitzer was here at one time I know and quite a group of people. And I never got from any of the persons in charge of the big observatories one complaint about the way the thing was being handled, with their papers, except for this thing from Shapley about Kopalís three observations being rejected. Thatís the only thing I ever got. And I got positive things. I got from Victoria where Petrie was director and I got extremely fine comments. He said they had had a meeting of something, and that they thought it was extremely good, and they hoped very much that I would soon be able to resume editorship. Iím saying this because itís important. This is the only place youíll get this, now. Iíve heard slight implications or suggestions or remarks by Chandrasekhar, that he took it over so that the thing would be running right. I reject this absolutely. Do you understand it? Absolutely. There is no evidence for that except in Chandrasekharís head. Thatís the end of that.
DeVorkin:The thing Iím trying to get at, though, was earlier. I know that the major observatories, like Lick and Mt. Wilson and Harvard had local internal referees. And I know one didnít even publish in the APJ.
Morgan:Lick had their own, in general. We got some Lick papers, but they had their own bulletins, circulars and publications.
DeVorkin:Right, but the other major observatories had a referee process.
DeVorkin:Locally, where Merrill would pass on papers.
Morgan:Locally, but I didnít accept that. They were refereed in addition to that.
DeVorkin:You were the first editor to do that.
Morgan:Well, I donít know. I think Struve did it. We talked some about it and so on. I canít tell you on that.
DeVorkin:Youíre not sure.
Morgan:I didnít accept the refereeís opinion when the paper was submitted, anybodyís. Never.
DeVorkin:You mean the local opinion?
Morgan:Now, I respected Merrill a lot. But I did not take anyoneís word for publication, except the referee that I picked, and the refereeís opinion from that, and my own judgment. I could use my own judgment.
DeVorkin:Yes. But you usually did have, even for the papers from Harvard, from Mt. Wilson, you had an external referee.
Morgan:I told you what happened in the case of the one from Harvard.
DeVorkin:Yes, but there were certainly others.
Morgan:I did not accept simply the word or the decision at a local level on any paper. No. Mt. Wilson, Palomar, anywhere else. No. I did not. That doesnít mean I was antagonistic toward them. As a matter of fact, I canít remember at the present time that any paper from Mt. Wilsonó Palomar was even questioned or rejected, because they were in very good shape, and they were very fine papers. But I did not accept the opinion of the people who sent them. I made my own opinion on it.
DeVorkin:This was your policy from Ď47?
Morgan:Till I went into the hospital. I managed to get the May issue of 1952 together. Iím not quite sure about whether it was the May one or not. And I found that Chandrasekhar and Kuiper, I think, had taken it over. Iím not complaining about this. There are certain things that happened that at the time were great blows. It was a great blow to me to find out the next year that I was not going to get it back. You know. had done nothing wrong, and it had been a distinguished time on the JOURNAL. But as it turns out in the long run, it was an absolutely necessary thing for my own creative research work, in later years, that I did not have that returned to me. So Iím very thankful it happened. It could have been done in a more delicate fashion. And StrŲmgren did nothing about it. He did not take any part in it, anything about it at all.
DeVorkin:So the editorial policies did not change during your editorship.
DeVorkin:OK, thatís what I wanted to know.
Morgan:No. Not at all. Not in the least.
DeVorkin:Is there anything in the astronomical world, with which you were involved, that aided, brought about or precipitated your illness?
DeVorkin:It was purely personal.
DeVorkin:Is there anything that youíd want to record about it?
DeVorkin:The nature of the illness itself?
Morgan:It was a breakdown, what they used to call a nervous breakdown, and I was in the psychiatric ward in Billings Hospital at the University of Chicago Hospital, from late June of 1952 until August 31 or September 1. At that time, my friend Philip Keenan came up and got me, and I went down and spent a month with him. And after that, by that time, I was sufficiently recovered to where I could come back and support my family and take up work again, though I was not actually what one would call recovered for years after that. But I worked then, as a matter of fact, on the most difficult, the hardest things in a certain sense; the things that will be remembered longest that I did, were all done then. The UBV system was done in that time, was completed in that time. It was begun before my illness. And the work of the 1950ís was done after that.
DeVorkin:Keenan was one of your closest friends?
Morgan:Yes, heís my oldest friend. He came here as a student in 1927, in the summer of Ď27, about a year after I got here, and he has been the only friend I have of very long standing. Right. Weíre very different kinds of people. Heíll be up here next Monday. Heís coming up for a couple of days next week. Heís retired also, but heís working. Heís my oldest friend. In a certain sense, my closest friend. But we are very different kinds of people, and I would put Mihalas really as my closest friend at the present time.
DeVorkin:Who is also very different?
Morgan:Not as much as Keenan. Not nearly as much as Keenan.
DeVorkin:You see more similarities?
Morgan:Yes. I would like to get a book. This is my copy of Mihalasí book on Stellar Atmospheres. This is one of three copies that were sent out from the printer. Mihalas was in England, and so a copy was sent to me and one to Seaton in London, and one to himself. I tried to get this passage deleted, and then it became a rather personal question of personal trust. This is a very remarkable passage, you see, in which I donít recognize myself, but you can read it sometime, but I donít want it on there.
DeVorkin:This is in his Preface, page 16.
Morgan:The reason I mention it is this, that apparently a person, without any ability or training in formal theoretical areas, can impress in some manner, which I do not understand — Iím speaking very sincerely and deeply — can impress and influence work, by the methodology that has been developed in the course of these years. The way I work can influence theoretical work of a man of the quality of Mihalas. Thatís the reason for it. Thatís the only reason.
DeVorkin:OK. I appreciate that.
Morgan:Put it this way. Everything that I say of this nature could not be described as research. But in a sense, my surprise and my lack of understanding of this phenomenon of choices and methodology as I work on anything else comes the same question: how is this possible? First of all, ďIs it justified?Ē And if itís justified, how is this possible? How is it done? Is it possible that the complete a posteriori approach, which I have developed and which I use through choice, can influence persons who are completely oriented in a priori fashion? Thatís it. I hope thatís clean and cool. Iím not doing any bragging. I donít understand it myself. (PAUSE)
DeVorkin:At this point, why donít we talk about the origins of the UBV system?
Morgan:I thought we had talked about that.
DeVorkin:You mentioned your work with Johnson, what you did, what he had done.
In that case, it was the fact that I had taught a course in photometry, stellar photometry and photographic photometry, in fact ever since I came to the observatory, and I was quite dissatisfied with what was officially the international system, adopted by the IAU, of the North Polar sequence. Well, the first thing of all is, the unsuitableness of the field at the North Pole for the purpose. The first thing, over everything else When you have a situation of where, as you go to fainter stars, you get systematically redder stars, so that the color index is a function of the magnitude. Then, if youíre working with integrated magnitudes over a long wavelength, itís indeterminate, you cannot separate errors in the magnitude scale from errors in color. If itís monochromatic, you can do it. One has to have a distribution of color index over the same values, a range over the same values for bright and faint objects, unless you determine monochromatic magnitudes. At least this is the way I look at it. That was the first thing.
Then also, there are no B stars up there. There are a few real bright A stars and then you get down to Fís and Gís and stuff like that. But also thereís a problem of guiding error between the Pole and other places, and I was just dissatisfied with the whole thing. The classical things of long ago, the work of Karl Schwarzschild, you see, way back near 1900 was great. And as a matter of fact, the methodology used in the earlier times was not too different from the methodology in the 1920ís and thirties still. There was some photoelectric work but not a lot, you see. The sensitivity had not gone up enough in those days to get what one needed. And I was experimenting with monochromatic magnitudes and other things, in the late 1930ís and early forties. Now, I am reconstructing the past from the present when I say this. I do not remember whether I was conscious of what I was moving toward at this time or not. I donít remember. I donít know. But thereís no doubt that an important step was a paper with Bidelman in 1947.
DeVorkin:ďInterstellar Reddening and the Region of the North Polar Sequence and the Normal Color Indicesí?Ē
Morgan:Thatís right. Thatís the one. It probably happened at the time consciously, but I donít remember. What this did showed clearly two things: the most important of which was that if one wants to determine small color excesses or moderate color excesses even, that one had to have, first of all, a photometric system that in some way was tied to the stars. The same principle as the spectral classification work I was speaking about. And the determination of intrinsic colors from spectra had to be made. And thatís the way I wanted to do it, these two had to be parallel and coupled operations. Well, thatís about the best I can do. You see, my memory for years, except for a few spectacular events, just before my breakdown, is very slight.
Morgan:Well, spectacular events in my life.
DeVorkin:You mean the spiral arms?
Morgan:Yes, things like that. But except for that, I do not have the complete record, as complete as I do for other times. And then Harold Johnson came here, and we had a paper which I got into trouble on — lost a friend for a while by it. Johnson came from Lick, and there I had not realized that he and Olin Eggen were on somewhat competitive terms, or at least on opposite sides of some things. Now, Eggen had published a paper on the Pleiades. This is the póv stage of the Kron póv system. And Eggen had published a paper in which he found discrete sequences in the A stars. He felt the stars lay along separated sequences.
DeVorkin:In the póv system.
Morgan:Yes. And I just didnít feel that that was very, very likely. And so Johnson and I ó I didnít know now about this thing that had been at Lick before — reobserved and we wrote a paper saying those sequences were not there. We observed and we did not find them. Now, a friend of mine told me something that hurt me very much. He said Eggen used to walk up and down the halls, he had always considered me his idol or ideal, he got his degree at Wisconsin and he grew up over here at Broadhead or something across the other side of Janesville. He felt that I had stepped on him. What Johnsonís motives were, I donít know. but they had been on different sides of things. Anyway I felt very sorry. But that was that paper then. And then you see, this must have been about 1950. Then I began this color work because as I say, the work was continuing on the spectra of the faint OB stars and things of this sort, including the spiral arms. And along with it, you see, there were no color indices, and the póv system has certain problems with it. I donít want to go into that. I donít remember all the details about it. But I wanted something that was defined by stars, at least at certain points, defined by stars, and very close to and defined by the MK System. Luminosity class and spectral types. I also wanted something that gave more information than the violet would give, the region on the Balmer discontinuity. Either a high member of the Balmer series or near the Balmer continuum. And so, I cannot tell you, and I donít know if thereís anything in the old files. I donít want to try to look, it away somewhere. There may be a certain amount of documentation in that period for what was going on, some records, but Iím not conscious of any.
DeVorkin:During this entire period, Johnson was here?
Morgan:Thatís right. It would have been better if heíd been away part of the time. Weíd have been writing back and forth. We wrote, later. So thatís the way the thing came in. We started working seriously on it in the summer or fall of 1951, you see. And when I conked out, I told Johnson to go ahead and publish it. It was not the final paper at all. Nowhere near. And one of the finest things he did, he did a wonderful thing and said, no, he wasnít going to do it, he was going to keep it until I got back. I wrote the whole paper in the two months after I got back from Keenanís, after getting out of the hospital, and at a time when it was absolutely a struggle to keep working at all. I had to support my family and I was taking care of that, and at this time both the UBV System and within that year, within the year after that, there were several of the most major, most important papers of my life. In that year, which was the most difficult work of anything Iíve ever had. It is an interesting phenomenon, thatís all.
Morgan:So it was published. And then Harold Johnson went on. I didnít publish anything jointly. Well, we had a paper, it looked as if the slope of the reddening line was different in Cygnus, and in fact, he published a number of things that I do not agree with on this. And he found in the globular clusters some peculiar things. But he had papers. He published detailed papers with more observations. And that classical, wonderful thing was published, of all places, in SKY AND TELESCOPE, which is the multicolor UVBRI catalogue of bright stars. The principles underlying it were stated in the original paper. The only part of the paper I did not write was the description of the photoelectric equipment, and the ďQ methodĒ; this was entirely Johnsonís.
DeVorkin:You remained pretty much independent or dissociated from the instrumentation side of this.
Morgan:I had no ability in that direction, although at the beginning of the paper there is a thing called terminology, the definitions and this was all mine. The whole thing. But I did not make any observations. I have never used a photoelectric photometer in my life. Now, I was quite surprised the way this paper was handled. Actually I told you, Johnson ordered no reprints. He said, ďThere are too many photometric systems now.Ē See, he trusted me. He was a gentleman. He trusted me to spend the time on this thing, although he himself didnít have confidence that it was a major piece of work. Thatís what it amounts to, you see. And Iím glad he did. I thank God he did, you know, because it made it possible to publish it. cit. ref. APJ 117 (1953) p. 313. Then he realized its value later, and he was active in that, and of course, he has a lot of papers in the field later on it. The conceptual parts, which are terribly important, Iím not sure that he ever completely realized, because in his general paper in the BASIC ASTRONOMICAL DATA in the Kuiper Series compendium, he says in there that all you need to know are instrumental parameters. Itís important enough to read from the book.
Morgan:ďThe Zeroóage Main Sequence,Ē was Johnsonís. I had nothing to do with that.
DeVorkin:Thatís his work.
Morgan:Thatís right. This is, I am reading from BASIC ASTRONOMICAL DATA, ďStars and Stellar Systems,Ē Volume 3 edited by Strand. And on page 207, itís the general discussion by H. L. Johnson, the photometric systems, and this is Section 3, the UBV system, page 207. ďSo, in previous expositions of the UBV system, Johnson and Morgan, 1953, which is the UBV paper, Johnson Ď55, emphasis has been placed in the time honored manner on the need for a large number of stars of all kinds in order to allow proper transformation of the system to be made.Ē The ďtime honored manner.Ē As a matter of fact, it was not time honored, it was never done before that 1953 paper. And all the way back, you wonít find it. The Unit International System and everything else. It was never done before. But he thought it was. Johnson then continues: ďHowever, my experience with the UBV system during the last 12 years has shown that the transformation from the observed natural system,Ē thatís the observation, observed system, ďto the UBV system will be linear and single valued, provided that 1, the photomultiplier is an RCA type 1 P 21;Ē (Now, there are different kinds of IP2lís, and age effects and different red cutoffs for different multipliers, OK? All right. Thatís my interpolation.) ď2, the yellow filter is Corning No. 3384, standard optical thickness.Ē All right, now, from year to year does Corning 3384 come out exactly the same thing as it did before? Or with age does it remain constant? OK. These are my interpolations. OK you can separate them out ultimately. Good, all right. ď3, the blue filter is Corning No. 5030, standard optical thickness, cemented to two millimeters of Schott GG 13.Ē All right, now how about Schott GG 13? How about Corning 5030? Both with time and with different melts. And how about that cement in between, with time, first, its properties, as you go on? You understand. All of these things, in the conceptual sense, as the UBV system was set up, are all important things, even if the effects are only a few hundredths of a magnitude or a tenth of a magnitude. All right, now the next. That isnít all. ď4, the ultraviolet filters Corning No. 9863 standard optical thickness.Ē But how about the aluminum coating or the aluminum with chromium on chromium, or something that has an extra coat on top of that? And with age, how do these change?
DeVorkin:These are on the mirrors of the telescope?
Morgan:The mirrors of the telescope. Now, No. 5. ďThe telescope is a reflector, and the mirrors are aluminized.Ē But the amount of aluminum oxide in all these sorts of things is important. You certainly canít just specify that the thing is aluminized, you understand? ď6, the reduction procedures of Johnson and Morgan 1951ó53, are followed.Ē (The reductions there are with all these stars used, you understand, with all kinds.) ďAnd 7, the altitude at which the observations are made is approximately 7000 feet above sea level.Ē Now, is 7000 feet, in the desert, in Arizona, the same as 7000 feet off the shore of the Pacific in Chile? Itís exactly in this range of things, the differences between the UBV system and the other systems before: the fact that all these things are all considered, included, and have to be taken into account. Everything that he oversimplifies here. As I think I told you, in our paper, he had a lot of p minus v stuff. There was a lot published, by Kron and others. So he didnít observe all the stars in our catalogue in the 1953 paper. He changed the Super giants over by his linear process. They turned out all wrong, way off, because the colors were different, the energy distribution was different, and they had to be thrown out and had to be redone, you understand. The main thing is the attitude. But this is the whole point about the UBV system. First, the different things I mentioned here that have to be taken into account, and the second is, that itís tied to stars for the zero point. Now, Iím not criticizing Harold Johnson. Iím stating a scientific situation, and it could never have been done without Johnson, who is by far the best person in his field in the world, and still is, I think. Heís not as active now but still is, you see. But itís the conceptual part that Iím emphasizing.
DeVorkin:But going back to the period when that paper was written, I understand from various papers that Iíve read, not published papers but letters, and the editorial correspondence concerned with this series that you were asked to write this article on photometry with Johnson. Do you recall that?
Morgan:No, I was asked to write one on spectral classification. And at the time, Iíd been having some difficulties — certain things that I didnít particularly like that were going on that involved Kuiper and I also was having a very rough time in general.
DeVorkin:This is around Ď55 that I recall you were asked.
Yes. Put it this way, forget the personalities, they were a factor, but the thing that was most important during the period when I got back from the hospital, the year 1952 I was recuperating in the hospital, and started working in the fall. Ď53. As a matter of fact, the first time I was ever in an airplane myself, I flew to Mexico and Tonantzintla. I was also required to go to Washington, the State Department was sponsoring this or something, and I got in a lot of trouble because they insisted on my going in as an immigrant, as if I were going to live in Mexico.
I was bounced off the plane, was taken off the plane by gendarmes, when I came back, and through all of this, I was still in a state where I was barely able to get around and do my work, because of the deep general psychological disorganization, as a result of the illness which I was just on the way to recovering from. I also flew the ocean for the first time and went to a symposium in Groningen, and then a later symposium, a week later, in Paris, and back. Then, a year later, Ď54, I flew to Copenhagen as a visiting professor, probably in early September. I got back just in time when my wife had this serious accident, which threw me back in my order of recovery from my collapse, because my mother was at home after a stroke, helpless, with two nurses, round the clock. My wife was in the hospital, helpless, with a shattered leg. And I was going in debt over a thousand dollars a month, which in those days was an awful lot of money. My salary was $5000 at the time, you see, which I thought was a good salary at the time. This kind of thing progressively improved. But not until actually, practically just about the 1960ís, the end of the decade, would I have considered that I was, if you want to put a quotation mark, ďcuredĒ and recovered. I was not doing things that did not seem to me to be of the highest importance, as compared with the things that I was doing. I didnít give people the reason for that, but in effect that was the reason. There were other problems, but this was the main thing of all.
DeVorkin:Well, you started your diary or journal at about this time.
Morgan:Journal, not diary. It is not in the sense of ďtoday I did something, yesterday I did something.Ē There are certain things of that type in it. But the reason it was started is the important thing. It was completely a treatment which I was giving myself, to avoid having to be committed and have another time with the very great neurologist, Dr. Nathaniel Apter, University of Chicago. If he had not been there, I donít think I would ever have recovered. Nathaniel Apter. Heís a neurologist. And he is one of the few great men that I have ever encountered in my life.
DeVorkin:Did he suggest this journal?
No. When you lose, in a certain sense, your personality, you lose your ability just to do the simplest things in life, to take care of things. And when youíre on your way back, one has to have a progressive sequence, and one has regressions and recovers from them. But I was determined that I was not going to go back, and even go to the doctor again, if I could in any way handle the thing myself. This is what happened. And simply, I grasped at something which was in effect self analysis. Actually, a very nice book by Karen Homey, which was written a little later, perhaps, which I have now, but I donít do anything with it now, entitled SELF ANALYSIS. Now, the classical psychiatrists, including Freud himself, I guess, said you couldnít analyze yourself. Well, that is not true, because Freud did analyze himself, as a matter of fact. He was the first patient and the first person to use it because he developed the methodology. He did it himself, as a matter of fact. He really did, you see. And so, thatís what this was.
So, at first it was simply stream of consciousness at times of great difficulty, just stream of consciousness writing. But I did not include anything of an illegal or obscene nature or anything like that. In that sense there was control in it, but that didnít hurt anything. It went, and it was only occasional, once in two weeks or something like that, the first few months. It became more regular until as a matter of fact, I would average about one of these books a month. About a dozen per year in the years when there were most of them. All right, this gradually then changed its nature, from where there were occasional things of this sort all the way through, except I have not encountered the intense things in a decade, a long time, since my wifeís death as a matter of fact, which was 15 years ago. But then it changed its nature to become something entirely different, which was, thoughts of a certain kind, reactions, not necessarily astronomical, but as I told you the other day, my creative life depends quite as much, if perhaps not even more, on nonóastronomical contacts of my own, books and other things of this sort, as on astronomical contacts.
Because in a sense, I donít think one can tell it from looking at the papers and so on, but as a matter of fact, there is something of a far more general nature than astronomy or even science, which is an integral part of my own work and my own thinking. It has become a part of me of which Iím not even conscious any longer, but it has developed me in these other directions. Due to the reflex feedback back and forth, this is the result which now is an automatic thing. Iím programmed for it, you might say. Iím not conscious of these things. But as a matter of fact, it is an integral part of my work, even to the present time. Does that make any sense?
DeVorkin:Itís very interesting. I could see it yesterday when you invited us over to take a short look at some of the journals. I could see many of your research interests in there.
Morgan:Yes. It would take me 15 minutes to find the proper books. There are some especially good examples. But you could get some idea what it was like from what you saw.
DeVorkin:It seemed to be quite poignant and very, very interesting. Possibly this could lead us easily into your research on external galaxies.
Well, it would never have occurred, at least as far as I can imagine, since I was entirely a spectroscopist or what you might call a stellar astronomer, but I was offered the Morrison Research Associate ship at Lick. So, in the fall of 1955 my wife, who had just stopped having to walk with a cane because of her accident, and I went out, and Mayall was away, he was in Europe, I believe. So he very kindly offered me the use of his file, his tremendous file of spectrograms of galaxies, and also, if I cared to, of his planetary nebulae. And this, I decided that what I would do in my present language was that I would simply see what could be done on the methodology which had been used on stellar spectra, and to a certain extent in stellar photometry, in the origins of the UBV system, what could be done in this new direction.
This was a far more difficult direction, because at least your spectra all have the lines at the same place, but in the case of galaxies, no two of which are absolutely identical, the way spectrograms can be practically identical, you see. These were very smallóscale plates, but they were excellent for the purpose, and I worked on that then. Then, the next fall, Ď56, I was a visiting professor in the fall for several months at Cal Tech. And I had permission to use the direct photographs. Sandage was working of course, on this. Hubble was dead. I was limited to the 60 and 100óinch plates. But the files were 60 and 100ó and that was plenty. And one of the most moving things there was, in the case of these plates, most of which Hubble had taken, there were slips of paper inside with remarks that he had made about these things. And that was the most interesting. As a matter of fact, Iím not going to develop this further, just say that this existed, I met Hubble once. Re was very kind to me and he showed me through the observatory in 1948 when I drove out the first time. But I got a feel for the personality of Hubble, the scientific personality, which I believe was unique, because it was from these personal notes he wrote himself about the plates and what he was doing. I donít want to develop that.
If someone else wants to do it, itís their business, but I will not. I do not want to go farther, because I do not have the material to refresh my mind and I do not want to say anything that might not be exactly properly put at the present time. All right, then, thatís what I did there. And in the course of that time, by the time I got through with the Lick material, it was clear ó- Mayall had spectra and direct plates both, made with the Crossley — that there was going to be a close relationship between certain characteristics of the spectra, and the forms, in terms of certain parameters. Let me just leave it at that. The next year then at Mt. Wilson I continued the work. I bought a beautiful art book at a marvelous store called... a bookstore down on Colorado Boulevard. It was on modern art, with magnificent colored illustrations, and I wrote in it, in pencil, ďThis is in remembrance of the solution to the problem of the classification of the forms of galaxies, in terms of their stellar populations.Ē Thatís the only record I have of that.
Well, I have my journal for that period, of course. There is my journal for that period. From Ď54 on I have the journal, that tells pretty well what I was doing, where I was and what I was engaged in. It was not a scientific record at all, but it tells things fairly well. But the last few years, couple of years, with the decreased number of hours that one can work at one time and the need for rest periods, that is the thing that has suffered more than anything else, because I have not kept it up the way I did before. But I do not like that and I am planning to get back into it again. All right. Iíd like to show you that before you go, because of all the things I can think about, this was a sort of (a salvation). I was in a very depressed personal condition, through the last few weeks of 1951. This was just before the collapse, when I was in an extremely depressed condition, and in a picture someone took of me, I donít look like the same person. Youíd never recognize it as myself. So when this happened, the whole thing was like being in a dream, and I did not have, in a certain sense, the feeling that one normally would suppose that one would have at a time like that. Both the spiral arm discovery itself and its reception at Cleveland.
It was just a very strange experience because I was not in condition to have normal reactions. If Iíd started out in that field, and had insisted on following my own way, rather than becoming a Hubble type person, I never would have gotten any advancement. I never would have had a tenured position, I never would have had a career in astronomy. So itís fortunate I had that to start with. The feeling I had, within a few days of the time when it was clear how beautifully the classification was going to work, was elation. If you completely disregard the Rubble tilt of the spiral arm as a parameter, and certainly the resolution, which is a function of distance, but just the concentration of the light of the nucleus alone, there is a beautifully smooth function — not only in spectral type, but in the fact that I had developed, partially at Lick but really later at Cal Tech and here — and not only was it that, but you could see the coming in of overpowering numbers of yellow cyanogen giants when you started in my category, beginning with the gk and k spirals, which indicates the degree of concentration in the nucleus. The amount of luminosity in the nucleus compared to outside the nuclear region. And by the kís, they were simply cyanogen giant systems as far as one could see, because the cyanogen band showed. Now, this is the first work of this type, because you see, I was using plates that the people at Mt. Wilson had used, and Minkowski and all the rest hadnít even noticed it, you see.
DeVorkin:What was their reaction?
Morgan:Well, you understand, it was very kind of Bowen and the staff and the committee to allow me to come out and work. You understand, there are certain fields, especially in those days, that were Mt. Wilson fields. Iíve mentioned about this thing that happened in the 1940ís, you see, about being warned off of working in a certain field, my director being told to warn me off of it. And I was working at a level which was not being done there. If I had started to anyway, there was no reaction because I didnít talk about it out there. Alan Sandage, was present and had the plates in his file. I didnít try to make anything out of it, because I knew that that wasnít the time to do it.
DeVorkin:They knew you were looking at the plates.
Morgan:Oh sure, and willing for me to do it. But you know, that doesnít necessarily mean that they accept anything that comes up.
DeVorkin:Did they know you were modifying or were interested in modifying the Rubble classification?
Morgan:Oh sure. Well, I canít remember the sequence, I can look in my journal. No, I was polite and I made my contacts. Sandage was sympathetic towards me, but heís never used anything of the sort. All right, so thatís the way it was. But the feeling was unique, as far as I can remember, in my whole astronomical experience — the feeling when it turned out that it fit. It was a leap. Now, Jerry Ostriker is a good friend of mine, you know, and you should see the things he wrote about the cD galaxies in this YALE SYMPOSIUM VOLUME last year. But you see, he makes a remark in the introduction to that paper on galaxies. Re mentions, ďWell, thereís the Rubble system, and then there were modifications later by de Vaucouleurs, Morgan, and one or two others, butĒ he says, ďnone of these seems to have added anything appreciable and none of them is a physical classification.Ē Well, this was a little too much. When he sent me the manuscript, and he was out at Mt. Wilson at the time, and I wrote and I said, ?TI felt that there was a little bit of humor in the situation, that this statement was made, when as a matter of fact it is definitely a physical classification because you can see the kind of stars, and you can to a first approximation describe the luminosity function of the brighter stars, in these different categories, from the Yerkes types.Ē Well, he wrote back and said, ďIf your letter had come two days earlier, I would have modified the paper.Ē Very polite. Very nice. But, and heís never sent me preprints since then. Now, the remark is here, and somebody calls him on it, somebody else at this point. It is a physical classification. Now, they say, ďWell, the Rubble classification also is the same thing and does the same thing.Ē Very statistically, it does. But the point is, I would like to show you something that will go in here.
DeVorkin:This is IAU Symposium No. 38. You were asked to speak on spiral structure. But did you speak on classification?
Morgan:I was asked to speak on spiral structure of the galaxies, not just our own.
DeVorkin:When was this?
Morgan:1969. Now, what I want to call attention to here is a paper, is my contribution here. Itís one of the introductory papers. Oort had the first. These were the two introductory papers for it. So, I want to show you this little diagram. Iím looking now at the publication, ďSpiral Structure of the Galaxy,Ē Symposium No. 38, IAU, page 10. Now will you hold this. Weíre looking at a little comparison between MK spectral types, Yerkes Form Types, and the Rubble corresponding types, Sa, Sb and Sc. It turns out that between al, afS, f S, fgS, all the way to gS, which in stellar population, the principal contributor would be A, F and G stars, that whole range, is all included among Rubbleís types as Sc. All right, you got that?
Morgan:Now, how about Sa and Sb? The Sb type, which comes next to Sc, if you go backwards, from fgS, to kS, that is, all the way from where the population is middle F, the stellar population, until itís K, the Sbís are in there, and the Saís cover exactly the same range. Thereís no discrimination of stellar populations. Now, why is this so? Very simple reason. Rubble had two basic characteristics for classification. Re had a third, resolution, but it doesnít make any sense, you understand. One was the inclination of the spiral arms, and the other was the degree of central concentration. But if the two did not agree with each other, he always went with the spiral arms. And that is not the thing thatís a function of the stellar population. You understand this?
DeVorkin:Yes, I follow it. Thatís quite interesting.
Morgan:Well, itís standing exactly in that situation today. Just the same. The only thing thatís ever used anywhere are the types. Around 1960 I was allowed to use, and this was one of the great favors of my life, that Dr. Bowen and later Dr. Babcock allowed me to use the original Palomar Sky Survey negatives. Thatís right.
DeVorkin:You have a copy of the negatives here. Not originals.
Morgan:Yes. And in the course of work there, the first time I did this, I classified on the Palomar Sky Survey the forms of all the bright Shapleyó Arms objects for the northern sky — the first ones had been done on the separate Rubble photographs. But I wanted to have everything as consistent as possible — and so there are two papers. The second paper has these, the types from the Palomar Sky Survey. But now in addition to that, later around 1960, I decided then to move to the morphological approach. I donít like the term morphological because thatís de Vaucouleursí word, and mine has nothing whatever to do with de Vaucouleursí classification. Mine is phenomenological, if youíll allow me to use the word. So I extended the work to clusters of galaxies, to go it one more space, one more step. To cluster the galaxies. All right, so that work was carried out. And in the course of that there was one thing obvious, that a number of rich clusters of galaxies, of the type in Abellís catalogue, in which his work had been done some years earlier, there were clusters with large galaxies at the center, which, the inner part was ellipticalólike in appearance, but where there was an envelope going out large distances, and I got the scale of those by means of lenticular galaxies, edge on spirals and things like that.
Morgan:And I adopted for those a constant diameter of around 24 kiloó parsecs, the easily photographed length. I used that for a scale, and then, if it was 2Ĺ or more of those units, I called it a cD galaxy. The letter c was in honor of Miss Maury, the lady who long ago did the spectral classification in the HARVARD ANNALS Volume 28 of the c stars that Hertzsprung first showed to be giants. And thatís been criticized by everybody in the world. Youíll find it in print. Why did he use such an awkward thing as c? The D was a notation, they were not Eís and they were not spirals, you understand.
DeVorkin:You couldnít use E.
Morgan:In the Hubble thing, you call them all SOís — everything that doesnít fit in you call it SO, you see.
DeVorkin:So you clarified it.
Morgan:No. I clarified it to myself, but the world still uses SO. Iíve never done anything for anybody but myself on this. No one in the world uses my system. There was one man in Australia, in fact I have the volume, he did a doctorís thesis, a beautiful job, in which he used my types to get the type for our own galaxy. Beautiful job. Thatís the only place itís ever been used. So, if one is willing to admit that the linear scale that I was using had validity, these objects were from 60 to 100 thousand parsecs and sometimes even larger in size. You understand where the scale came from.
DeVorkin:From the lenticular galaxies.
Morgan:Thatís right, because there always would be a number of lenticulars around. And the largest were the same size, the upper limit, and thatís the size of our galaxy and M3l. Itís a very strange thing. Itís almost as if a celestial cookie cutter was used to make these things, you see. But thatís another problem. Thatís another matter. Iíve lost you, I think.
DeVorkin:Well, Iím not exactly sure why you used the lenticular galaxies. These would be spirals like our galaxy seen edge on?
Morgan:Yes. And others. There can be other kinds. But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. I did this. And now let me finish the thing, then. Later, when there were red shifts for these and people investigated their size, there was practically no difference from the size Iíd given for them earlier. Now, this was not published at first. You see, at the meeting of the IAU in Berkeley, there was a symposium at Santa Barbara, just before that, and I gave a paper on the galaxies there.
DeVorkin:This was 1961.
Morgan:I talked to Maartin Schmidt and he said well, he would take spectra for some of them. But I never heard a thing from it. Re took the spectra, you see. I never heard anything from it. So the next year, I believe Ď62, I was out at Mt. Wilson in September, in the fall, and I was working with Tom Matthews, who was still there, and he was very kind. We worked together. Re had together in his own files already, he had borrowed from all over the place, he had 200 inch plates, every kind of thing that are now catalogued as ďstrong radio sources,ĒOK? All right.
DeVorkin:Yes. This is already Ď63?
Morgan:No, Ď62. Strong radio sources. So we went systematically. We decided on a certain flux, we defined a strong radio source by a certain flux. Then we went through and I classified the forms. He would look up the plates, I classified the forms, of these strong sources. Well, a large number of them were exactly these cD galaxies. Not all. Some of the cdís are not strong radio sources, but a number of them are. Then together with Tom Matthews, and there was a lot of competition out there, the atmosphere was competitive — this is the early quasar period, just as the quasars were coming out, you understand. This went into Ď63, I know, because it was when my wife was in the hospital, Tom Matthews came here. I had great pleasure in this paper. Maarten Schmidt had just gotten red shifts of several of the most distant quasars known then, you see, and he very kindly cooperated with us, and he became a joint author. The paper was Matthews, Morgan and Schmidt. Right. And itís printed in two places.
DeVorkin:Matthews, Morgan and Schmidt. '64.
Morgan:Itís in the ASTROPHYSICAL JOURNAL, and it also was in that conference, that first of those Texas conferences, what do you call them now, gravitational collapse. I was invited to that thing down at Austin. And I gave a paper on this. I presented this stuff, you see. Now, Minkowski and Tom Matthews sat side by side at the speakerís table. I was sitting next to Matthews on the other side. Minkowski spent the whole dinner trying to convince Tom Matthews not to use my classification system, and go back to the Hubble classification for the strong radio sources.
Morgan:Now, he had investigated the radio sources with the Rubble types before, and there was no difference between normal galaxies and these, because there was no place in the Rubble system for these other things, you see. They were labeled by something, the closest they considered to them.
Morgan:OK. Now, that paper was the one that introduced what are the largest single optical structures in the universe, that we know about. Well, this classification has been used at a number of places, and also we had the dumbell. Do you know the paper?
DeVorkin:Thatís the one in Ď64.
Morgan:Iíll give you a reprint of it if you want a reprint.
Morgan:So this is the way they came out. Now, you understand I been an outsider and Iím still an outsider in this field.
DeVorkin:Because youíre not at Mt. Wilson?
Morgan:No, not that. There are people all over the world working. But because of the influence of de Vaucouleurs and people like that. As a matter of fact I just wrote a letter because they still call the late type galaxies the irregulars, with the population like the Orion association. The early types are the ones with population like the elliptical galaxies.
Morgan:Of course itís backward. But now, Shapley pointed this out back in the 1940ís. As I said in a letter I just wrote to Richard Kron, this was sufficient reason for Rubble not adopting it, because Shapley suggested it, that it was reversed — because the two men were in conflict.
Morgan:But still you can see that this is to be a pious pontification. Papers are still coming out, ďlate type galaxies, early type galaxies.Ē I have not made the slightest dent on this field, this thing hasnít. But I am spending the time on this because I want to tell you that the thing is just as important as I thought it was earlier, and in every respect, the effect on the way that field was before and is now is similar to the MK System in spectral classification, what it was before and after. But one is up against a brick wall. Itís a very interesting situation.
DeVorkin:What do you think will happen?
Morgan:I have not the slightest idea. If you think that Iím excited about this — I talk like this when Iím interested. Iím not the least bit worked up about the fact of this. You know, in earlier years, I thought: ďgee, sooner or later, you know.Ē But no, to me now, itís a curiosity. Period. No more than a curiosity. This sort of thing has happened in science plenty of times. Someone is going to come out with it, perhaps in 1992, ďoh look, these interesting things that you find if you use this other type.. .ď
DeVorkin:Is that what it would take? Just someone being able to see it?
Morgan:I would have thought the Rubble system would have collapsed of its own weight. Sandage is a good friend of mine and a very brilliant person. They subdivide the Rubble sequences. But you canít put these things in by subdividing the existing sequences! Now, something has just happened which is very interesting. There was a paper by my friend Sydney van den Bergh, which I was asked to referee — now this obviously, as a referee, is a confidential thing — by Helmut Abt, and he had a brand new classification for galaxies. And in it he used just the concentration of the nuclear regions of the thing —
DeVorkin:ó- van den Bergh did?
Morgan:Yes. And he introduced one more sequence for low surface brightness spirals. Well, except for that last thing, which is a minor part of it, itís exactly the scheme that was published, published in 1958 and l959. So I remarked that this was somewhat similar to Morganís work. Re decided that Iíd refereed the thing, so instead of sending his refereeís report back to Helmut Abt he sent it to me. If you look at these papers, and what I said, remember, one has to include the thing for the cD galaxy classification — the radio sources. That doesnít do violence at all to the other. Itís an appendage to the other. Itís a physical classification by the nuclei, the centers. Because you not only can say that you see helium lines in some of the irregulars, NGC 4214, several helium lines — I have spectra I took at McDonald. If you put the spectrum of the Orion Nebula side by side, and except for a stronger continuum and a faint G band from a bunch of F stars that happen to be there too, itís like the Orion Nebula, the whole galaxy is — 10, 20 kiloparsecs of it. But thatís called a ďlateĒ type galaxy on Rubbleís classification. You have to remember that any classification system for galaxies based upon spectra and form cannot be as precise, it cannot be defined as precisely, because different galaxies are not like different stellar spectra that are going through a constant dispersing element, and through a constant optical system, on a certain date. You understand that or not?
Morgan:So thereís a built in fuzziness in it (we were talking about that the other day) which is much greater, and which makes it far more difficult to go farther than weíve gone at the present time.
DeVorkin:Since we have only a few minutes left, I would like to ask you some questions that we missed along the way. In 1954, in a paper with Meinel and Hugh Johnson, you discussed spectral classification done with exceedingly low dispersion, in the range of 30,000 Angstroms, to be used for the segregation of 0 and B stars. Could you give me a bit of background on that work?
Morgan:In 1943, Joyís review of the YERKES SPECTRAL ATLAS appeared in the APJ. He asked to review it apparently. The review was not all positive, but it was fine. I think that it was his review that brought it to the attention of people, and this, I think, is the reason why I finally made tenure at the University of Chicago. I think we miss very much the kinds of reviews of work that used to appear in the APJ. We donít have anything like it now in the literature.
DeVorkin:I would like to turn back to your directorship in the 1960ís and in particular to your recollections of the development of Southern Hemisphere astronomy.
DeVorkin:Youíve already talked some about the association of Yerkes and McDonald, building a telescope in the Southern Hemisphere, and Kuiper, only we didnít talk about this on tape.
DeVorkin:Could you give me a general view of what did go on? How did Kuiper develop this program for the Southern Hemisphere and what happened to it?
Morgan:I canít tell you. Information is in existence in the Kuiper letter file, and I canít tell you, I just canít. You see, Kuiper was director at the time.
DeVorkin:In other words, you donít recall?
Morgan:Well, I never was on the inside of these things. I was not on the inside of any of these things. This was something Kuiper handled with his own people and his own correspondence.
DeVorkin:So that was pretty much independent of what was happening here.
DeVorkin:Letís go to your directorship then and follow progression of events of what had to be done afterwards.
Well, when I became director, the first thing that I was faced with was that I was director of both the Yerkes and McDonald Observatories. Also, I was director, if you want to call it director, of the new observatory which had been decided on for Chile. In fact I remember the NEW YORK TINES front page, when Lyndon Johnson and the president of Chile, before the Communists came in, signed the joint agreement. I believe that the University of Texas and the University of Santiago, were involved. So I was faced with, then, what amounted to the construction of an observatory down there. But there was no money to pay for anything. There was no committee. Thatís the way it was. So that was the situation. With regard to McDonald there were no terrible problems. The problem was there to arrange for someone being in charge somewhere in the neighborhood, and I asked Frank Edmonds if he would do that. But I was the responsible person. There were problems there which have to come out in the correspondence. That I donít remember in detail. And in the course of that time also, I had to create a department of astronomy at the University of Texas. I remember getting instructions from the dean to offer a position to de Vaucouleurs. And I did that, from here.
Harold Johnson was there for a certain length of time — not very long. And of course they have a very good department now. With regard to the Southern Hemisphere Observatory, it seemed perfectly clear that something of that magnitude was not possible. The fact was that not only was there no money, but the University of Chicago is a private institution, and this is something that has to be on an international scale. Simply, it needed a much stronger source of backing and support, than the way Kuiper had set it up. Well, the promises had come in, I think. But this is the way Kuiper worked. I donít want to go into details on it. These are personal type things. So I immediately tried to see if there was interest in the AURA Board at Kitt Peak. Kitt Peak had just been dedicated at that time. Kitt Peak wasnít built completely, and I immediately tried to see if this thing, which had been underwritten and been approved by the President of the United States, you see, who was no longer the President, I guess by then. Itís possible it was Eisenhower. I donít know why Johnson is in my mind, because it had to be 1959, somewhere in there.
DeVorkin:Well, Johnson might have been involved in the transfer.
It was the President of the United States, and of course Johnson would be definitely later. So I first tried, and I think that C. D. Shane was the president of the AURA Board at the time, and he was perfectly receptive and pleasant in discussing this, but he felt it was not possible. And I can understand that. Look, KPNO was not half built at the time, you know. It was just a beginning and was just beginning to be used as an observatory at all. So he would be perfectly in his rights not to jump at this. Warren Johnson was my dean at Chicago at that particular time. He said, ďWell, name your committee and get going.Ē But I just felt the thing was too big — it was going to be a major observatory. Itís going to be both for the United States and Chile. So it had to have a broader base. This was simply my feeling. People start things on a nickel, a little bit at a time, and they pull something from one place and something from another place and get a little more and a little more, and thatís the way Kuiper did it.
In a certain sense, he was very successful at it. But Iím not the type for that, esthetically and practically, for something of the level this had now gotten to, it just shouldnít be — which is my own feeling, and I still feel the same way about it. But thank God, within a yearís time, the AURA Board changed their minds on it. And there will be correspondence somewhere, that can record this, but I do not have it and I canít tell you more about it. Shane was still head of the Board. He is the one who took it up. And one of the great debts of my life, I owe to Donald Shane, for coming to a realization and willingness, unselfishness, to take that on, in addition to the heavy problems with the Kitt Peak Observatory. And they did it. Well, that was the thing that had to be done. Either that or create one of these other things, like the way the NRAO was built. Youíve got to have a consortium of universities, if itís a university thing. It has to be a consortium thatís properly organized and properly funded, for something of this magnitude. You can say, well, why didnít I do it?
I was faced here with the problem of a disintegrating staff, the departure of the people for the future, the young really good people leaving, and also some of the older ones. And it was a question of priority — among the crucial responsibilities and the crucial things in time that had to be tackled, I considered that the first thing of all. Well, I failed in keeping any of the people who were on their way. I thought I could keep the Burbidges, but Chandra had become extremely angry at Geoffrey Burbidge because Burbidge had been critical of Kuiper, in this period before the Kuiper departure in 1960, you see. Burbidge had been quite critical. And Iím not saying that Burbidge was not justified in being critical, you understand. But Chandra had been the closest associate and closest friend of Kuiper over all the period, this whole period. And he apparently either told him something or wrote him a letter that just simply pushed Burbidge so far over the line that he said that he would not stay at the place any longer because of that. Thatís what it amounted to. Thatís what he told me. So, I lost them. But we got in some good young people. And not long after that the theoretical part of the department moved to Chicago, and the courses are now all given on the campus, the courses in the sequence for graduate students. If graduate students are working on theses with people out here, they come out here. And that meant a drop in the number of people here.
DeVorkin:Was there anyone here at that time who wanted to see a Southern Observatory built by Chicago?
Morgan:I donít think so. Actually I certainly did not have any offer to help or anything like that, in either planning or putting it into existence. I was quite alone on this thing. Well, I donít know about Hiltner. Perhaps Hiltner did. But I mean, someone that one could depend on to take a major part in the thing, no. Remember, we were losing these people at the time. They were on their way out when I got in here, and I thought I could slow them down, but I didnít. I was not able to do it.
DeVorkin:So your directorship continued till 1963?
Ď63, and the reason for that was that I was chairman of the University of Chicago Astronomy Department and director of Yerkes and McDonald, of course, My wife had been an invalid. Actually, she was able to get around. Of course, I didnít know she was going to die. But she was in the hospital in 1962 in the fall, and one always hoped, of course, that she would get through it. And then in January of Ď63 she came home for a little while. Actually, we walked by the lake, I remember. In fact, my present wife was living at the time over in Fontana. She was a very good friend of my first wife. This must have been early April, we walked the shore path here and we walked from somewhere here, down to where there were some snowdrops and other flowers, thousands of them that bloom in a certain place down by the lake. And there are about 100 steps straight up to a road from there, and my present wife and I made a thing like this (hammock) and carried my wife all up the hill after that. Thatís the last time she was out. She died on the 22nd of May, 1963.
The fact of the death itself, of course, was bad enough. But in addition to that was the fact that if I had not gotten into this job in 1960, I made a condition when I got in that there would be no home entertaining, nothing of that sort, because my wife was then an invalid. That didnít do her any good. It certainly didnít help her life any more, you see. And I felt for some time there, especially for that first year, that in effect my choice of trying to keep the observatory here, in effect keeping it from going under as a viable important place, that in effect if I had not done that, that my wife might not have gone. Iím past that now. One does the best one can, and one chooses; thatís what it amounts to. So I told the dean that I would not continue after that. And he asked if I would keep the chairmanship of the department, and get a director who in effect would be working under me, and I said I would. So I got a three year appointment as chairman, and Hiltner was the only possibility for director. He was here and heís a very good observational man, and a good instrumental man, too.
So, I had another three year appointment as chairman. That was Ď63 to Ď66. So, in January Ď66 I was asked if I would take another term as chairman and I said that I would do it, but within a few weeks of that time, I passed out. And if my present wife (who was my friend at the time) had not come looking for me, and couldnít find me in the house, and found me in a room up against the door to where she couldnít open the door, that would have been it for me. Then it turned out that in addition to the other things I had acquired in the early 1960ís, I had high blood pressure. Then I said that I couldnít go on, I would not take another term, but I finished that one. I went on October 1, when Nelson Limber came in.
DeVorkin:OK. Weíve come an awfully long way.
Morgan:You cover things pretty well, it seems to me.
DeVorkin:I hope so, just to finish the tape, finish the few moments left, I would like to have a sort of overview from you, philosophical overview.
DeVorkin:An appreciation of your own work, possibly a view of how astronomy has been transformed and changed, through the years that youíve been active. What do you think have been the most significant things that happened to you and that youíve done?
Well, itís a question of long range and short range, I suppose. One could put in in this way. I donít know whether I want to call it short range, it certainly will go on a while longer. The work over about seven years, ending in 1943 with the publication of the YERKES SPECTRAL ATLAS, has certainly had the greatest effect or influence in astronomy, of anything Iíve done. And when one thinks of it, as a matter of fact in principle, thereís practically nothing changed in the present edition over the principles stated in the introduction. They are elaborated and made more precise, and thatís important too, certainly. Itís a difficult thing, these last five years, just doing that alone. But there, you see, it has effects both in stellar astronomy and in astrophysics too, because one has segregated then the special astrophysical interests and the more precisely the system is defined, the more sensitive you become in picking out spectra which are just slightly different but astrophysically terribly important, from the straight continuum, you understand.
That is the thing that had the most use in early years. And then, the UBV system. I was very surprised as to how that did catch on. As a matter of fact, in photometry of course, Johnson extends it out using the same definitions. Vega is zero, everywhere, color index zero in UóV, B óVV-- I, R ó I, I ó K, you understand. And thatís the fundamental thing there, in principle. Yes. It does have a zero point, which is not the zero point of the North Polar Sequence. You understand. So heís carried on some of these things, which is terribly important. And the other things, the later things, their effect up to now has been miniscule, to put it about right. But as far as I feel inside, and if there is a long range in astronomy, if it develops in the direction that one would think it might, I think there will be a time that these will come to have a certain amount of influence. To me theyíre absolutely just as important as the two things which are universally used. Theyíre somewhat more subtle. But there are certain principles which are not astronomical principles, of which these can be considered metaphors. And this again is methodology. My lifework has been, you could say, a search for a general method, if you want to call it that. I have only unconsciously realized it until now, that a progressive course through all these years has existed toward what amounts to a method. Iím speaking of method in a collective sense, if you can imagine such a thing. The simplest kindergarten operation is a certain way of looking at things. And the ultimate things are the specimens. And a certain deep, deep respect for the specimens as such, as building blocks for the universe. They are in the prime position and the observer is in a subservient position to them. I can only talk by example.
How else can one talk? One could say that the word ďphilosophicalĒ should be in here. But I am so turned off by the use of the word philosophical, and by the very great majority of people that call themselves philosophers, that I hesitate to do it. But I have to put this in. And this is the last thing I will be saying. It is the influence, the almost completely unrecognized importance of the later work of Ludwig Wittgenstein, in philosophy, which is absolutely the basis for the recognized, the suddenly recognized, ďreócognition,Ē of what Iíve been doing. I read his last work — the PHILOSOPHICAL INVESTIGATIONS — people say itís difficult. To me, it is just the easiest reading in the world. Not because I understand abstruse things, but because itís something very simple, but of a nature which people are not willing to realize and accept, that it is simple. Well, thatís about the best I can do. I have to say one more thing, though. In all of this, I have been talking openly to you, these past two days, and Iíve done my best, other than certain personal kinds of things and certain rather strong remarks in connection with living persons, I have tried to be perfectly open.
One could read this, and it may sound when you have it transcribed, that this has been a sort of an advertisement of a career, and that an attempt to take credit for certain discoveries, and to put a somewhat superior attitude on myself toward the field and toward other workers in astronomy. If these things are derived from it, it is a complete mistake, and it is only because of the fact that I have worked from moment to moment, trying to be perfectly frank, that such an impression could be gotten. I am completely of a different nature toward my own work, and I have to put this in: of all things, I am a religious person. This immediately negates everything I say as a scientist, perhaps. But I put it this way. I am a mystic. Not in my work but in the conceptual range. And I feel that when I was put on the earth, with certain possibilities, it was up to me to travel as far, as long a path as appears to me, and change it from time to time, change the vector from time to time; but that as long as I am here and have my faculties, that I am betraying being put on earth and having the quality of life, if I do not go as far as possible along the direction that I have been permitted to go. Now, there has to be an absolutely necessary addendum, to the above, and that is this. I owe a very great debt, so great that it cannot be acknowledged properly, to two living persons. One is the present director of the Yerkes Observatory, Lewis Hobbs, who is interested in my continuing my work for a time longer, and has allowed me to keep my office and to use the facilities of the University of Chicago. The other is to Dimitri Mihalas, who has, in effect, given me a realization, which I feel I can accept because of his distinction, that my work is of a quality and of a timeliness that is important to the astronomical world, and that it is worth continuing as long as I am able to continue it.
DeVorkin:This is an addendum. There is a letter from Hutchins, published in SCIENCE that I would like you to examine.
Morgan:I want to read it first. (Pause) This is true. I mean, what else can I say besides that?
DeVorkin:What Hutchins says here is an accurate representation?
Morgan:Yes, it certainly is. It is right.
DeVorkin:He seems to be almost delighted. What were your impressions?
Morgan:Well, you see, without Hutchins, we would never have had a great department here. He was the president of the University. He had plenty of problems, but he was the one that pushed. I mentioned about the three people coming in, around 1937 — Chandrasekhar, Kuiper, StrŲmgren. As I mentioned to you before, Struve was sensitive of being, first of all, himself a foreigner, a director of an American observatory, and then bringing in, one after the other, these highly distinguished people who were all foreigners, too. I may have had a small part in pressing him very hard, that was not an important thing. In those days, we were rather close, you know, as friends too. I think Kuiper was the third of the three, because he said, ďNo more foreigners.Ē Kuiper, you see, was a pupil of Hertzsprungís, and his early work is a clean, pure, beautiful continuation — before he came here, I mean — of Hertzsprungís classical work. And I had a tremendous (regard for this). I had never seen him. But I pushed very hard. He told me later, he never would have gotten in if it hadnít been for me. Thatís the only comment I can make on it. Itís true, absolutely true, and Mr. Hutchins was the person who made possible the development of that great, great staff. Yes. Itís true. And Struve did everything that he said here he did. Absolutely. underwrite it completely, what he says here.
DeVorkin:OK, thatís fine. Thank you.
Op. Cit. Ref.
ĒNew Light on the Structure of the Galaxy Gained in 1952Ē ASP Leaflet #285 January 1953 (Volume VI, p. 275).
Ibid. The discussion does bear out the recollection.
Op. Cit. Ref.
With H. L. Johnson. APJ 114 (1951) p. 522.
Op. Cit. Ref. APJ 117 (1953) p. 313.
Ē5 Color Photometry of Bright StarsĒ Sky and Tel. 30 (1965) #1.
Evolution of Galaxies (Yale U. Press, 1977) B. Tinsley and R. Larsen, eds.
ĒSpiral Structure in External GalaxiesĒ in The Spiral Structure of our Galaxy, IAU Symposium #38 (Basel) (1970) p. 9.
APJ 140 (1964) p. 35.
db. (See Matthews, Morgan, Schmidt APJ 140, 35, 1964).
ĒA Preliminary Classification of the Forms of Galaxies According to their Stellar Population.Ē I, II PASP 70, 364, 1958; PASP 71, 394, 1959.
APJ 120 (1954) p. 506.
Science 106 (1947) p. 195.
Session I | Session II