European Southern Observatory

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Edmondson’s Office, Swain Hall, Indiana University
Abstract

Early home life in Indiana, and early schooling. Origins of his interest in astronomy and the influence of both family and teachers. College years at Indiana University and contacts with members of the astronomy department there (E.C. and Vesto M. Slipher). Discussion of history of Indiana University Astronomy Department, and its contact with the Lowell Observatory. Graduate school at Harvard University, Peter van de Kamp's influence, work in stellar kinematics, impressions of atmosphere at Harvard. Faculty position at Indiana University, 1937 to present. Origins of Goethe Link Observatory, and the growth of the department. Organizational work in the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Work at National Science Foundation (NSF) as scientific officer for astronomy, 1956, and development of National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO); NSF and AUI; NRAO directors; Sputnik; Kitt Peak Observatory site survey, NSF and Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA); Aden Meinel; John B. Irwin's proposal for a photoelectric observatory; Flagstaff Conference; Robert McMath Panel; structure of Kitt Peak staff; Chilean observatory and development of Cerro Tololo; Gerard Kuiper's role in southern observatory; European Southern Observatory (ESO), Carnegie Southern Observatory (CARSO) and AURA joint Paris meeting; Russian interests in southern observatory; CARSO application to Ford Foundation; agreements between AURA and CARSO; building telescopes at Kitt Peak and Cerro Tololoth︣e WISCO dispute; policy problems; AURA Board meetings; demise of Space Division at Kitt Peak; Whitford Panel; White Sands rocket project; astronomy and teaching at Indiana. Also prominently mentioned are: Jorge Alessandri Rodríguez, Lawrence Hugh Aller, Bart Jan Bok, William A. Cogshall, James Cuffey, H. T. Davis, Arthur Foley, Paul Herget, Helen Sawyer Hogg, Virgil Hunt, Geoffrey Keller, C. O. Lampland, Robert Reynolds McMath, Edward Arthur Milne, Samuel A. Mitchell, William Wilson Morgan, Jason John Nassau, Henry Norris Russell, Frederico Rutllant, Charles Donald Shane, Harlow Shapley, Jurgen Stock, Otto Struve, Merle Antony Tuve, Herman B. Wells, K. P. Williams, Marshall Wrubel; Associated Universities, Inc., Ford Foundation, Indiana Higher Education Telecommunication System, Lick Observatory, McDonald Observatory, and Yerkes Observatory.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Edmondson’s Office, Swain Hall, Indiana University
Abstract

Early home life in Indiana, and early schooling. Origins of his interest in astronomy and the influence of both family and teachers. College years at Indiana University and contacts with members of the astronomy department there (E.C. and Vesto M. Slipher). Discussion of history of Indiana University Astronomy Department, and its contact with the Lowell Observatory. Graduate school at Harvard University, Peter van de Kamp's influence, work in stellar kinematics, impressions of atmosphere at Harvard. Faculty position at Indiana University, 1937 to present. Origins of Goethe Link Observatory, and the growth of the department. Organizational work in the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Work at National Science Foundation (NSF) as scientific officer for astronomy, 1956, and development of National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO); NSF and AUI; NRAO directors; Sputnik; Kitt Peak Observatory site survey, NSF and Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy (AURA); Aden Meinel; John B. Irwin's proposal for a photoelectric observatory; Flagstaff Conference; Robert McMath Panel; structure of Kitt Peak staff; Chilean observatory and development of Cerro Tololo; Gerard Kuiper's role in southern observatory; European Southern Observatory (ESO), Carnegie Southern Observatory (CARSO) and AURA joint Paris meeting; Russian interests in southern observatory; CARSO application to Ford Foundation; agreements between AURA and CARSO; building telescopes at Kitt Peak and Cerro Tololoth︣e WISCO dispute; policy problems; AURA Board meetings; demise of Space Division at Kitt Peak; Whitford Panel; White Sands rocket project; astronomy and teaching at Indiana. Also prominently mentioned are: Jorge Alessandri Rodríguez, Lawrence Hugh Aller, Bart Jan Bok, William A. Cogshall, James Cuffey, H. T. Davis, Arthur Foley, Paul Herget, Helen Sawyer Hogg, Virgil Hunt, Geoffrey Keller, C. O. Lampland, Robert Reynolds McMath, Edward Arthur Milne, Samuel A. Mitchell, William Wilson Morgan, Jason John Nassau, Henry Norris Russell, Frederico Rutllant, Charles Donald Shane, Harlow Shapley, Jurgen Stock, Otto Struve, Merle Antony Tuve, Herman B. Wells, K. P. Williams, Marshall Wrubel; Associated Universities, Inc., Ford Foundation, Indiana Higher Education Telecommunication System, Lick Observatory, McDonald Observatory, and Yerkes Observatory.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
International Astronomical Union meeting, Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Abstract

Early life and family in Amsterdam; childhood interest in astronomy and telescope-building; undergraduate at Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden (W. deSitter, J. Woltjer), works at Leiden Observatory; growing interest in galactic research (Ejnar Hertzsprung, Jan Oort); contact with others at Leiden (Paul Ehrenfest, Hendrik Kramers). Assistantship at Rijksuniversiteit te Gröningen, 1938; cooperative stellar catalog with Harvard University and Universität Hamburg. Life during the German Occupation, conditions in Leiden and Holland; the Resistance Movement; returns to Leiden, 1945. Begins work on thesis at end of war, continues Jacobus C. Kapteyn's interest in proper motion of helium star (Scorpio-Centaur association); compares Boss Catalog and FK Catalog for systematic errors (Oort). Discussion of postwar developments in time scale problem (Albrecht Unsöld, Victor Ambartsumian). To Yerkes Observatory, 1947; impressions of Yerkes and other American observatories: RR Lyrae variables (Otto Struve), 1947-1948; work on extension of cluster expansion (W. W. Morgan), 1952; work in Kenya on stellar positions (Maarten Schmidt), 1949-1950. Back to Yerkes, 1953-1957 (Bengt Strömgren, Gerard Kuiper, S. Chandrasekhar, A. Hiltner). Directorship of Kapteyn Laboratory, Groningen; organization of the Radio Foundation. Origins and development of European Southern Observatory; five-year term as Director. Views on development of astronomy in Holland (Antoine Pannekoek, Marcel Minnaert, Pieter van Rhijn); radio astronomy.