Lick Observatory

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Alan Dressler, Astronomer Emeritus at The Carnegie Institute for Science Observatories. He describes his current focus on the James Webb Telescope and he conveys concern for a "post-reality" political environment that has taken a grip on American politics. He recounts his upbringing in Cincinnati, and how his curiosity about how things worked naturally pulled him toward astronomical interests. Dressler discusses his undergraduate education at UC Berkeley and his decision to pursue a PhD in the newly created Department of Astronomy at UC Santa Cruz. He describes the importance of the Lick Observatory for his research under the direction of Joe Wampler, and how Jim Peebles gave this thesis project a "seal" of approval. Dressler describes the origins of the Dressler Relation in his study of the morphology of galaxies and the density of their environment, and he describes the opportunities leading to his postdoctoral appointment at Carnegie. He explains the history of the Caltech-Carnegie partnership in astronomy, and he describes working with Allan Sandage and Jim Gunn. Dressler emphasizes the revolutionary effect the Hubble Telescope imparted to the field, and he discusses his time as a Las Campanas fellow. He describes how his work on galaxy formation fed into larger questions about the origins of the universe and the broader philosophical implication of our understanding of Earth's place in the universe. Dressler explains the Great Attractor Model and the state of play in black hole research in the 1980s, and he describes why he did not need to "see" an image of black holes to be convinced of their existence. He narrates the origins of the Association of Universities for Research and Astronomy, and the drama surrounding the repair of the Hubble. Dressler describes presenting the HST & Beyond report to NASA administrator Dan Goldin, and he discusses the natural progression for his work on the NASA Origins program. He discusses his subsequent focus on the Magellan Telescope and the EOS Decadal Survey. At the end of the interview, Dressler reflects on the strides made in galaxy formation research over the course of his career, and he conveys pride in playing a role in science, for which he appreciated since youth as a field that offered limitless opportunities to improve the world. 

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
Abstract

Family history and educational background; undergraduate degree from University of California Los Angeles (1924-1927); PhD from University of California Berkeley (1927-1931); orbit computing with A. O. Leuschner; thesis work at Lick Observatory with Donald Menzel; work at Harvard College Observatory (1931-1955); with Harlow Shapley, Donald Menzel, Annie Jump Cannon, Antonia Maury, Bart Bok, Leon Campbell, Cecelia Payne Gaposchkin; comets and meteors; radio astronomy; Super Schmidt meteor camera project (1948); Director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (1955-1973); science fiction authors, especially Arthur C. Clarke; Moonwatch project, Armand and Grace Spitz; military and science funding; Multi-mirror telescope with A. B. Meinel; "icy comet" model.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Campbell Hall, Berkeley, California
Abstract

Early life in New York and California, and decision to do undergraduate work in astronomy at University of California at Berkeley. Decision during army service, 1955-1957, on a career in astronomy; return to Berkeley, 1957, for graduate work. Professional career: work at Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), 1961-1964; return to Berkeley as professor in 1964, and research in galaxy-related problems. General problems in cosmology. Also prominently mentioned are: Wilhelm Heinrich Walter Baade, Jerry Brown, Armin Deutsch, Jesse Leonard Greenstein, Louis Henyey, Alfred H. Joy, Lou Kaplan, Richard Kron, Gerard Peter Kuiper, Nicholas Ulrich Mayall, Rudolph Leo Bernhard Minkowski, William Wilson Morgan, Guido Münch, George Preston, Ronald Reagan, Allan Sandage, Emanuel B. Spinrad, Bengt Georg Daniel Strömgren, Otto Struve, George Wallerston, Joe Wampler, Harold Weaver, Albert Edward Whitford; California Institute of Technology, Hayden Planetarium, International Astronomical Union, Lick Observatory, San Diego State University, Sky and Telescope, United States Army Map Service, and Yale Conference on Cosmology (1977).

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut
Abstract

This interview is a focused exploratory interview covering William Van Altena's brief career history as a student at the University of California, Berkeley and Lick Observatory; interests in astrometry and work for van den Bos and Vasilevskis; work at Yerkes Observatory; state of astrometry and role of automation; discussion of names prominent in community; LST program; funding; tenure.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Dave Phillip's home, Schenectady, New York
Abstract

Dealing with early life in Southern California; training at Pomona College and University of California at Los Angeles; research at Lick Observatory on absolute calibration standards; Albert E. Whitford and Gerald Kron and photoelectric astronomy; position at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and the contemporary job market. Also prominently mentioned are: J. Mayo Greenberg, Richard Grosch, James Jeans, George Low, Paul Routly; Arizona State University, and National Science Foundation (U.S.).

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
International Astronomical Union (IAU) meeting, Kyoto, Japan
Abstract

Dr. Yoshio Fujita discusses his family background and high school; education at the University of Tokyo, advisor Yuseke Hagihara; textbooks used, courses taken; positions as assistant at the Tokyo Astronomical Observatory then lecturer at the University of Tokyo; weekly colloquium with Toshio Takamine, Hagihara, Fujita and Masao Kotani; equipment used in his research; research interests during his career, including molecular spectra of stars, stellar atmospheres, late-type stars, diatomic molecules; Martin Kellog Fellowship from C. D. Shane to work at Lick Observatory, fellowship from Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar to work at Yerkes Observatory; in the United States he worked with George Herbig, William P. Bidelman, and Gerard Kuiper; project to build the 74-inch telescope in Japan; trip to use the Victoria 72-inch telescope for training; professional memberships and accomplishments.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Center for Astrophysics
Abstract

In this interview George Field discusses topics such as: his time at the University of California, Berkeley; Charles Townes; Lick Observatory; working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); radio astronomy work with Ed Purcell; detecting neutral hydrogen gas at big red shifts; Fred Whipple; moving to the Harvard College Observatory; planning for the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Charles Lundquist; Riccardo Giacconi; Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory; Northeast Radio Observatory Corporation (NEROC); orbiting solar observatories (OSOs); Dave Challinor; Bart Bok.

Interviewed by
Richard Hirsh
Interview date
Location
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Abstract

Career of George B. Field, theoretical astrophysicist and administrator of astronomical research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO). Discussions of education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton and Harvard Universities, interest in cosmological problems; possible detection of hot intergalactic matter in 1964; colleagues at University of California at Berkeley; views on popularizing science; reactions to Sputnik launch in 1957; funding of research from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); views on the manned space program; effects of Vietnam War on NASA and astronomical research; involvement with the Space Telescope; views of the Space Shuttle; extensive committee work for NASA; astronomical research under NASA; work at SAO; new programs at SAO, such as x-ray astronomy and the Multiple Mirror Telescope; service on the Jesse Greenstein and Allan Bromley survey committees of astronomy and physics; and his view of the universe. Also prominently mentioned are: Kinsey Anderson, Stuart C. Bowyer, Jim Bradley, Tony Calio, Riccardo Giacconi, Thomas Gold, Leo Goldberg, John Hagen, Noel Hinners, Fred Hoyle, Frank Martin, John Earl Naugle, Al Opp, Edward Mills Purcell, Martin Schwarzschild, Dennis William Sciama, Henry Smith, Sylvia Favior Smith, Lyman Spitzer, George Steiner, Frank Sulloway, Pat Thaddeus, James Van Allen, Fred Whipple; American Science and Engineering, Inc., Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Congregational Church, Harvard College Observatory, Harvard University Society of Junior Fellows, High Energy Astronomy Observatory, Lick Observatory, National Academy of Sciences (U.S.) Astronomy Survey Committee, National Academy of Sciences (U.S.) Greenstein Committee, National Science Foundation (U.S.), New York Times, Orbiting Astronomical Observatory, Princeton University Matterhorn Project, Project Apollo, Skylab, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Multiple Mirror Telescope, Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum, Space Shuttle, United States Naval Ordnance Laboratory, United States Office of Management and Budget, United States Office of Naval Research, University of California at Berkeley, and Viking (Rocket).

Interviewed by
Richard Hirsh
Interview date
Location
Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Abstract

Career of George B. Field, theoretical astrophysicist and administrator of astronomical research at the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO). Discussions of education at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Princeton and Harvard Universities, interest in cosmological problems; possible detection of hot intergalactic matter in 1964; colleagues at University of California at Berkeley; views on popularizing science; reactions to Sputnik launch in 1957; funding of research from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); views on the manned space program; effects of Vietnam War on NASA and astronomical research; involvement with the Space Telescope; views of the Space Shuttle; extensive committee work for NASA; astronomical research under NASA; work at SAO; new programs at SAO, such as x-ray astronomy and the Multiple Mirror Telescope; service on the Jesse Greenstein and Allan Bromley survey committees of astronomy and physics; and his view of the universe. Also prominently mentioned are: Kinsey Anderson, Stuart C. Bowyer, Jim Bradley, Tony Calio, Riccardo Giacconi, Thomas Gold, Leo Goldberg, John Hagen, Noel Hinners, Fred Hoyle, Frank Martin, John Earl Naugle, Al Opp, Edward Mills Purcell, Martin Schwarzschild, Dennis William Sciama, Henry Smith, Sylvia Favior Smith, Lyman Spitzer, George Steiner, Frank Sulloway, Pat Thaddeus, James Van Allen, Fred Whipple; American Science and Engineering, Inc., Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Congregational Church, Harvard College Observatory, Harvard University Society of Junior Fellows, High Energy Astronomy Observatory, Lick Observatory, National Academy of Sciences (U.S.) Astronomy Survey Committee, National Academy of Sciences (U.S.) Greenstein Committee, National Science Foundation (U.S.), New York Times, Orbiting Astronomical Observatory, Princeton University Matterhorn Project, Project Apollo, Skylab, Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory Multiple Mirror Telescope, Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum, Space Shuttle, United States Naval Ordnance Laboratory, United States Office of Management and Budget, United States Office of Naval Research, University of California at Berkeley, and Viking (Rocket).

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Smithsonian, Washington, D. C.
Abstract

In this interview, Andrea Dupree discusses topics such as: her family background and childhood; doing her undergraduate studies at Wellesley College; Janet Guernsey; C. P. Snow; becoming interested in astronomy; what is was like being a woman and fitting into the physics profession and dealing with gender inequality; Sarah Hill; Allan Sandage; Hans Bethe; Phil Morrison; Otto Struve; going to the Royal Greenwich Observatory for a summer; Cecilia Payne-Gaposchkin; Dorrit Hoffleit; variable star fields; deciding to go to Berkeley for graduate school; Ivan King; Hyron Spinrad; Lick Observatory; coming back to Harvard University after a year; George Wallerstein; William Liller; Leo Goldberg; her affiliation with the American Astronomical Society (AAS); Don Osterbrock; Simon "Pete" Worden; Owen Chamberlain; Alex Dalgarno; Harvard College Observatory; Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics; Ed Lilley; solar physics; ionization rates; Herb Friedman; Dick Tousey; Henry Smith; stellar atmospheres; Fred Whipple; Donald Menzel; Margaret Burbidge; orbiting solar observatories (OSO); Skylab program; Lyman Spitzer; Robert Noyes; Henry Norris Russell; International Astronomical Union (IAU); National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); George Field; Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO); Eric Chaisson; Jesse Greenstein; Celescope.