Galaxies

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Steward Observatory, Tucson, Arizona
Abstract

Interview discusses, not in chronological order: early home life and schooling; undergraduate at Leiden, influence of Paul Ehrenfest, Jan H. Oort, Jacobus C. Kapteyn, Gerard Kuiper, Antonie Pannekoek, Ejnar Hertzsprung. Recollections of work of Georg Uhlenbeck and Samuel Goudsmit. Assistant to Peter van Rhijn at Groningen ca. 1928, work on various stellar and galactic topics. Move to Harvard, 1929, and atmosphere there under Harlow Shapley. Marriage to Priscilla Fairfield Bok; her contacts with William W. Campbell. Search for and interpretation of spiral auras of our galaxy; studies of stellar density distribution. Activities during World War II. Harvard astronomy group's difficult postwar transition; McCarthyism. Work on nebulae and globules. Comments on astronomy at Mt. Wilson, Tonantziutla, and South Africa. Origins of Harvard radio astronomy and National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and their funding. Move to Australia, 1956, and conditions there. Move to Steward Observatory of University of Arizona, 1964, and conditions there. Location of national observatory at Kitt Peak; management of Kitt Peak. Discussions of astronomy, education, popularization, employment, and organization. Also prominently mentioned are: Wilhelm Heinrich Walter Baade, McGeorge Bundy, Edwin F. Carpenter, Tom Cherry, James Bryant Conant, Arthur Stanley Eddington, Sergei Gaposchkin, Jesse Leonard Greenstein, Haro, David Heeschen, Ejnar Hertzsprung, James Jeans, Ivan Robert King, Bertil Lindblad, Antonia Maury, Nicholas Ulrich Mayall, Joseph McCarthy, Sidney McCuskey, Aden Meinel, Donald Howard Menzel, Robert Menzies, James E. Miller, Edward Arthur Milne, William Wilson Morgan, Edward Charles Pickering, Harry Hemley Plaskett, Nathan Pusey, Martin Schwarzschild, Willem de Sitter, Otto Struve; American Astronomical Society, Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy, Associated Universities, Inc., Boyden Observatory, Case Institute of Technology, Harvard College Observatory, Harvard Series on Astronomy, Indiana University, Mount Stromlo Observatory, National Science Foundation (U.S.), Ohio State University, Princeton University, Rijksuniversiteit te Groningen, Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden, University of Arizona, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, and University of Texas.

Interviewed by
David DeVorkin
Interview date
Location
Steward Observatory, Tucson, Arizona
Abstract

Interview discusses, not in chronological order: early home life and schooling; undergraduate at Leiden, influence of Paul Ehrenfest, Jan H. Oort, Jacobus C. Kapteyn, Gerard Kuiper, Antonie Pannekoek, Ejnar Hertzsprung. Recollections of work of Georg Uhlenbeck and Samuel Goudsmit. Assistant to Peter van Rhijn at Groningen ca. 1928, work on various stellar and galactic topics. Move to Harvard, 1929, and atmosphere there under Harlow Shapley. Marriage to Priscilla Fairfield Bok; her contacts with William W. Campbell. Search for and interpretation of spiral auras of our galaxy; studies of stellar density distribution. Activities during World War II. Harvard astronomy group's difficult postwar transition; McCarthyism. Work on nebulae and globules. Comments on astronomy at Mt. Wilson, Tonantziutla, and South Africa. Origins of Harvard radio astronomy and National Radio Astronomy Observatory, and their funding. Move to Australia, 1956, and conditions there. Move to Steward Observatory of University of Arizona, 1964, and conditions there. Location of national observatory at Kitt Peak; management of Kitt Peak. Discussions of astronomy, education, popularization, employment, and organization. Also prominently mentioned are: Wilhelm Heinrich Walter Baade, McGeorge Bundy, Edwin F. Carpenter, Tom Cherry, James Bryant Conant, Arthur Stanley Eddington, Sergei Gaposchkin, Jesse Leonard Greenstein, Haro, David Heeschen, Ejnar Hertzsprung, James Jeans, Ivan Robert King, Bertil Lindblad, Antonia Maury, Nicholas Ulrich Mayall, Joseph McCarthy, Sidney McCuskey, Aden Meinel, Donald Howard Menzel, Robert Menzies, James E. Miller, Edward Arthur Milne, William Wilson Morgan, Edward Charles Pickering, Harry Hemley Plaskett, Nathan Pusey, Martin Schwarzschild, Willem de Sitter, Otto Struve; American Astronomical Society, Associated Universities for Research in Astronomy, Associated Universities, Inc., Boyden Observatory, Case Institute of Technology, Harvard College Observatory, Harvard Series on Astronomy, Indiana University, Mount Stromlo Observatory, National Science Foundation (U.S.), Ohio State University, Princeton University, Rijksuniversiteit te Groningen, Rijksuniversiteit te Leiden, University of Arizona, University of Illinois, University of Michigan, and University of Texas.

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.

Interviewed by
Spencer Weart
Interview date
Location
Mount Wilson-Palomar Observatories, Pasadena, California
Abstract

In this interview, Horace Babcock discusses how the field of astrophysics has changed over the course of his career. Topics discussed include: research administration; Mount Wilson Observatory; Ira S. Bowen; National Science Foundation; California Institute of Technology; stellar evolution; photomultiplier tubes; Joel Stebbins; Albert E. Whitford; Gerald Kron; Allan Sandage; Martin Schwarzschild; spectrographs; radio astronomy; x-ray astronomy; galactic evolution; stellar material; Robert McMath; societies; American Astronomical Society; International Astronomical Union; Jan Oort; Theodore Dunham Jr.; Alexander Pogo.

Interviewed by
Paul Wright
Interview date
Location
Perceptions of Scientific Works
Abstract

Childhood and unconventional early education; Harvard University: impressions of courses and social climate; Caltech, Mt. Wilson, comments on Walter Baade and background of Baade’s theory; differences between astronomy and astrophysics; early professional career work on Magellanic clouds; interest in peculiar galaxies, Viktor A. Ambartsumian at the 1957 Solvay Conference; Fritz Zwicky; Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies; comments on published papers: Distribution of Quasars compared to Maarten Schmidt’s work with similar title; Edoard Stephan’s quintet; work on discrepant red shift with respect to the Friedman universe; future research interest, non-professional interests. Also prominently mentioned are: Basch, Bart Jan Bok, Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, William Alfred Fowler, Jesse Leonard Greenstein, Edwin Powell Hubble, Milton Lasell Humason, Bernard Lovell, Rudolph Leo Bernhard Minkowski, Jan Hendrik Oort, Edison Petit, Robert Richardson, Allan Sandage, Maarten Schmidt, Harlow Shapley, Dick Stoy, Vanderlaan, Gerard Henri de Vaucouleurs; Atlas of Peculiar Galaxies, Institut de Physique at Solvay, and United States Navy.

Interviewed by
Spencer Weart
Interview date
Location
New York City, New York
Abstract

Early life in California, undergraduate work at Caltech (1947-51), graduate work at Caltech in physics and astronomy, including work at Mt Wilson-Palomar (1951-54), Accounts of Palomar sky survey (1953-56) and work on galaxies Impressions of instructors, among them Rubble, Zwicky, Baade, Minkowski Abell joined UCLA astronomy department in 1956 and describes its history, faculty, and expansion Discussion of Abell’s professional interest in popularization of astronomy since 1960’s (textbook, BBC-Open University work, campaign against astrology, summer science program) and technical work on super-clusters and cosmology.