HAD I Special: Transits of Venus: Looking Forward, Looking Back.
Session #90: Sunday, 8 Jan 2012, 1:00–3:40 p.m.
Session Chair: Jay M. Pasachoff, Williams College.
Description: The June 6, 2012, transit of Venus, completing the pair that began on June 8, 2004, will represent the last chance to observe one of these rare events from Earth until the next pair, December 11, 2117, and December 8, 2125. This year’s transit will be extremely advantageous as almost all the most populated areas of the Earth will be able to see at least some of the transit: the only land masses from which no part of the transit will be visible are the western Iberian peninsula, the western part of Africa, the eastern part of South America, and Antarctica.
We present papers on both important historical aspects of the transits of Venus and modern applications. From a historical point of view, the occasion is of importance in providing a point of departure for a reconsideration of the singular importance of the transits in the history of astronomy and in the geographical exploration of the Earth, which led to massive preparations and far flung expeditions in the eighteenth century in pursuit of the Halleyan project of determining the solar parallax. The nineteenth-century transits also played out against a background rivalries among the great European world empires (England, Russia, France, and the U.S.) then at their height and then sliding imperceptibly but ineluctably toward the Great War. The 2012 transit offers an opportunity to revisit the important expeditions of the past—many of which have been catalogued and some noted by markers or restored—and to engage in “experimental archaeology,” the reconstruction of past observations, including of the Black Drop and luminous aureole, about which it was and is often mistakenly stated that, particularly for the earliest observations, it is produced by refraction by the atmosphere of Venus. Possible observations of special historical interest in 2012 could include some using historical instruments and techniques or observing from the same locations as earlier observers. But far from being an entirely retrospective exercise, the history of transit observations defines critical problems to be addressed by modern high-resolution observations from Earth and space. These include the detailed profiling of the atmosphere of Venus with ground-based and space-based observations (from satellites meant to study the Sun) and the study of a local analogue to exoplanet transits across their parent stars, the focus of many contemporary astrophysical investigations and space missions whose key astrophysical goals are to understand the prevalence and structure of planetary systems very different from our own solar system. In short, though often said to be of strictly historical interest owing to the fact that the Halleyan solar parallax method has long since been superseded, transits of Venus continue to be of great importance to astronomers and astrophysicists working at the cutting edge of important problems of our own day. See http://www.transitofvenus.info and http://www.transitofvenus.org.
Jay M. Pasachoff and William Sheehan, Organizers.
1:00 1. Transits of Venus: 1639, 1761, 1769, 1874, 1882, 2004, and 2012
Jay M. Pasachoff, Williams College.
Transits of Venus are exceedingly rare predictable astronomical events, with only six having been observed since Jeremiah Horrox corrected Johannes Kepler's Rudolphine Tables and observed the transit of 1639. Edmond Halley's 1716 method of finding the size and scale of the Solar System and thus of the Universe led to hundreds of 18th-century and 19th-century transit-of-Venus expeditions for each event. I discuss the history and importance of the transit observations, and how spacecraft observations of the 1999 transit of Mercury, repeated at the 2003 and 2006 transits, led to the solution of the black-drop effect problem that had prevented Halley's method from reaching its desired accuracy and thus solution of the noble problem of astronomy to find the size and scale of the solar system. Other spacecraft observations of the 2004 transit of Venus have led to an analysis of how Venus's atmosphere becomes visible for about 25 minutes before second contact and after third contact, and links with prior historical claims, mostly invalid, to have discovered Venus's atmosphere at transits. Total-solar-irradiance spacecraft observations at the 2004 Venus transit Venus link to exoplanet discoveries with NASA's aptly named Kepler Mission and ESA's CoRoT. I further link previous transit observations to planned observations for the June 5/6, 2012, Venus transit and the May 9, 2016, Mercury transit, together providing a historical basis for 22nd-century astronomers preparing to observe the December 10, 2117, Venus transit. My observations at the 2004 and 2012 transits of Venus were and will be supported in large part by a grant from the Committee for Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society. My solar observations were supported in part by NASA grant NNG04GK44G for work with the TRACE spacecraft and NASA Marshall grant NNX10AK47A and planetary work supported in part by NNX08AO50G from NASA Planetary Astronomy.
1:40 2. Astronomers, Transits of Venus, and the Birth of Experimental Psychology
William Sheehan, Independent Scholar.
The eighteenth century transits of Venus were regarded as the most important astronomical events of their era. They served as the energizing core of years of planning, calculations, and heroic travel to remote locations by many of the important astronomers of that time, eager to apply the methods of Edmond Halley and Nicolas Delisle to estimate the Earth-to-Sun distance. Halley’s expectation was that by observing the contact points between the limbs of Venus and the Sun, this distance could be determined to an accuracy of one part in 500. But in the event, it proved otherwise. As the British historian Agnes Clerke wrote in 1902: “A transit of Venus seems, at first sight, full of promise for solving the problem of the sun’s distance. For nothing would appear easier than to determine exactly either the duration of the passage of a small, dark orb across a large brilliant disc, or the instant of its entry upon or exit from it .... But in that word ‘exactly’ what snares and pitfalls lie hid!” Indeed, because of observational vagaries such as the black drop and the aureole (the latter due to refraction by the atmosphere of Venus) , and significant differences in timing critical phases of the transits by astronomers standing a few yards apart from one another, astronomers found themselves contending with a haze of data points instead of the precise values anticipated. The resulting value of the Earth-Sun distance was, as we now know, off by several percent. In the post-mortem of these results, astronomers devoted a great deal of effort to understand the sources of errors, and by the nineteenth century they were regularly discussing the “personal equations” of observers as much as the optical characteristics of their telescopes. They rehearsed their observational techniques by observing, under strictly controlled conditions, transits of artificial planets across artificial Suns, and studied such parameters as attention and reflex reaction. In the process, psychology moved from being a branch of speculative philosophy to become a branch of empirical science, and what had hitherto been the “subject”—the observer—became the “object,” the observed. Though there were other factors, the transits of Venus certainly provided an important impetus to these developments.
2:20 3. Australians and Americans: Observing the 1874 Transit Down Under
Nick Lomb, Powerhouse Museum, Australia.
Australia was one of the best places from which to observe in 1874 as the transit was visible, at least on the country’s east coast, from beginning to end. All three state observatories, at Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide, mounted observing campaigns. Their efforts were augmented by two American observing teams in Tasmania, one at Hobart led by the well-known USNO astronomer William Harkness and the other at Campbell Town that was there almost by there by accident. In this talk I will tell the story of the Australian efforts plus those of the two American expeditions to Tasmania. The emphasis from the Australian observations will be on those of Sydney Observatory as out of that work came the book ‘Observations of the transit of Venus, 9 December, 1874’ by Henry Chamberlain Russell. The book has such excellent coloured illustrations that almost every popular article and book on the transit of Venus reproduces some of them. I will not only show examples of those illustrations, but images of some of the original water colour illustrations found in the Observatory archives.
3:00 4. Transit of Venus Culture: A Celestial Phenomenon Intrigues the Public
Chuck Bueter, TransitOfVenus.org.
When Jeremiah Horrocks first observed it in 1639, the transit of Venus was a desirable telescopic target because of its scientific value. By the next transit of Venus in 1761, though, the enlightened public also embraced it as a popular celestial phenomenon. Its stature elevated over the centuries, the transit of Venus has been featured in music, poetry, stamps, plays, books, and art. The June 2004 transit emerged as a surprising global sensation, as suggested by the search queries it generated. Google’s Zeitgeist deemed Venus Transit to be the #1 Most Popular Event in the world for that month. New priorities, technologies, and media have brought new audiences to the rare alignment. As the 2012 transit of Venus approaches, the trend continues with publicly accessible capabilities that did not exist only eight years prior. For example, sites from which historic observations have been made are plotted and readily available on Google Earth. A transit of Venus phone app in development will, if fully funded, facilitate a global effort to recreate historic expeditions by allowing smart phone users to submit their observed transit timings to a database for quantifying the Astronomical Unit. While maintaining relevance in modern scientific applications, the transit of Venus has emerged as a cultural attraction that briefly intrigues the mainstream public and inspires their active participation in the spectacle.
3:40 End of session.
HAD II Special: Funding Astronomy in the Post-World War II Era
Session #91: Sunday, 8 Jan 2012, 4:00–6:00 p.m.
Session Chair: Marc Rothenberg, National Science Foundation.
Description: Thanks to the establishment of the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in the United States, and various agencies in Europe and Asia, there has been a massive influx of government funds into national and international astronomy during the last sixty-five years. At the same time, traditional sources of support, such as the Carnegie Institution of Washington, have continued to find their own niches in the new world of patronage. This session will explore the impact of the new patterns of patronage on astronomy in the United States and elsewhere.
Marc Rothenberg, Organizer.
4:00 1. Funding for Research in Astronomy within and beyond Japan since WW II
Sharon Traweek, UCLA
Japanese scientists have been quite resourceful in obtaining funding for research in astronomy projects within Japan and abroad. It is unusual in Japan for researchers to gain funding from more than one government agency. Several cases will be discussed, from the TRIPOD program of the Office of Development Assistance, begun in 1954, to the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii.
4:30 2. The Transformation of an Astronomical Institution
David H. DeVorkin, Smithsonian Institution
In 1954 the Astrophysical Observatory of the Smithsonian Institution was closed down in Washington and transferred to Harvard, becoming the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. It was a bureau of the Harvard College Observatory but was wholly governed by the Smithsonian in Washington. Historians such as the speaker and Ron Doel have explored the nature of the transfer, but not so much its implications. Specifically, soon after the transfer, the SAO geared up for the IGY, the only astronomical institution to do so in a big way, and the NSF became the conduit for a vastly increased level of activity of a character and scale only dreamed of by astronomers prior to the Cold War era. This support, and soon additional NASA and Air Force support, led to the SAO becoming one of the largest astronomical institutions on the planet by the mid-1960s. We will explore some of the implications.
5:00 3. The National Science Foundation Revolutionizes American Astronomy, 1950-1975
Marc Rothenberg, National Science Foundation
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is the federal steward for ground-based astronomy in the United States. Established in 1950, the NSF has helped shape American astronomy in the post-World War II period through a number of administrative decisions, including that of establishing national observatories from scratch. This paper will provide an overview of the support of astronomical research by the NSF during its first 25 years, highlighting key administrative decisions and awards.
5:30 4. The Development of Infrared Astronomy
G. H. Rieke, University of Arizona
We are only two years from celebrating the hundredth anniversary of William Coblentz’s first extensive measurements of stars in the infrared. However, his work was followed for fifty years by — almost nothing. I will describe the few initiatives in those fifty years and compare them with the dramatic beginning of modern infrared astronomy in the 1960s. I will also quantify the explosive progress of this area since then. The comparison allows us to speculate on the real prerequisites for successful breakthroughs in astronomy and astronomical technology.
6:00 End of session.
HAD III History Poster Papers
Session #150: Monday, 9 Jan 2012, 9:20 a.m.–6:30 p.m.
150.01. Acronical Risings and Settings
Thomas A. Hockey, University of Northern Iowa.
A concept found in historical primary sources, and useful in contemporary historiography, is the acronical rising and setting of stars (or planets). Topocentric terms, they provide information about a star's relationship to the Sun and thus its visibility in the sky. Yet there remains ambiguity as to what these two phrases actually mean. “Acronical” is said to have come from the Greek akros (“point,” “summit,” or “extremity”) and nux (“night”). While all sources agree that the word is originally Greek, there are alternate etymologies for it. A more serious difficulty with acronical rising and setting is that there are two competing definitions. One I call the Poetical Definition. Acronical rising (or setting) is one of the three Poetical Risings (or Settings) known to classicists. (The other two are cosmical rising/setting, discussed below, and the more familiar helical rising/setting.) The term “poetical” refers to these words use in classical poetry, e. g., that of Columella, Hesiod, Ovid, Pliny the Younger, and Virgil. The Poetical Definition of “acronical” usually is meant in this context. The Poetical Definition of “acronical” is as follows: When a star rises as the Sun sets, it rises acronically. When a star sets as the Sun sets, it sets acronically. In contrast with the Poetical Definition, there also is what I call the Astronomical Definition. The Astronomical Definition is somewhat more likely to appear in astronomical, mathematical, or navigational works. When the Astronomical Definition is recorded in dictionaries, it is often with the protasis "In astronomy, . ..." The Astronomical Definition of “acronical” is as follows: When a star rises as the Sun sets, it rises acronically. When a star sets as the Sun rises, it sets acronically. I will attempt to sort this all out in my paper.
150.02. Urania In The Marketplace: Telescopes, Real And Fantastic
Kenneth S. Rumstay, Valdosta State University and SARA.
During the twentieth century astronomical imagery was frequently incorporated, by a variety of industrial manufacturers, into advertisements which appeared in popular magazines. Images of great telescopes, especially, were often invoked to capture the public imagination and to associate a product or service with the noble pursuit of astronomical knowledge. These advertisements fall into three general categories: 1)In many cases the advertiser may have participated directly in the construction or operation of a new telescope or observatory. That astronomical facility would then be accurately rendered, usually by a photograph, and often identified. 2) In the case of a product or service which had at best a tangential relation to astronomy, a generic telescope or observatory dome might be pictured, with no identification. The intent would be to co-opt the qualities of precision and timeliness, commonly associated with astronomy, for the advertiser's product. In some cases a well-known observatory (most notably the ones atop Mount Wilson and Mount Palomar) would provide a backdrop, thereby linking the manufacturer with a facility in the public eye. 3) In some cases, a service or product might have no astronomical association whatever. Nonetheless, the advertiser might employ an image of a large telescope to invoke a sense of grandeur which would somehow be transferred, in the reader's mind, to that product. In these cases an artist's conception of some fantastic device would often be prepared. In some cases the artist may have had only the vaguest idea of how telescopes were designed, and as a result some remarkably imaginative examples of astronomical engineering graced the pages of our periodicals. Examples of magazine advertisements from each category, spanning nearly a century, are presented for comparison.
150.03. The University of Washington’s Manastash Ridge Observatory: 40 Years of Astronomy Research and Education
Julie H. Lutz, C. Laws, & N. Ramien, University of Washington.
The University of Washington's Manastash Ridge Observatory (UW MRO) will celebrate the 40th anniversary of its dedication in May 2012. The MRO Boller and Chivens 0.75-m telescope was installed in 1972, following two years of site surveys in the Cascade Mountains east of Seattle. The observatory was used initially for research by UW faculty, as well as for graduate research and training, and during the 1970's and 1980's many of the UW’s astronomy PhD theses relied heavily on data obtained at MRO. In recent years MRO has shifted its mission to enabling undergraduate research, and to providing a “capstone” course in advanced photometric methods for our undergraduate majors. Photometry has long been the major source of data from MRO, and the Washington Photometry system for measuring stellar abundances was developed at UW and first deployed at MRO. The cameras at MRO have been used to research a wide variety of objects: cataclysmic variables, RR Lyrae stars, symbiotic stars, novae, X-ray binaries, white dwarfs, M dwarfs, asteroids, comets, star clusters, and many others. Over 100 papers based all or in part upon data obtained at MRO data have appeared in refereed publications. Our poster will present highlights of the research and stories from MRO’s history.
HAD IV History of Astronomy
Session #115: Monday, 9 Jan 2012, 10:00–11:30 a.m.
Session Chair: Jarita Holbrook, University of Arizona.
10:00 115.01. Discovery and Classification in Astronomy
Steven J. Dick, National Air & Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution.
Three decades after Martin Harwit's pioneering Cosmic Discovery (1981), and following on the recent IAU Symposium “Accelerating the Rate of Astronomical Discovery,” we have revisited the problem of discovery in astronomy, emphasizing new classes of objects. 82 such classes have been identified and analyzed, including 22 in the realm of the planets, 36 in the realm of the stars, and 24 in the realm of the galaxies. We find an extended structure of discovery, consisting of detection, interpretation and understanding, each with its own nuances and a microstructure including conceptual, technological and social roles. This is true with a remarkable degree of consistency over the last 400 years of telescopic astronomy, ranging from Galileo's discovery of satellites, planetary rings and star clusters, to the discovery of quasars and pulsars. Telescopes have served as “engines of discovery” in several ways, ranging from telescope size and sensitivity (planetary nebulae and spiral galaxies), to specialized detectors (TNOs) and the opening of the electromagnetic spectrum for astronomy (pulsars, pulsar planets, and most active galaxies). A few classes (radiation belts, the solar wind and cosmic rays), were initially discovered without the telescope. Classification also plays an important role in discovery. While it might seem that classification marks the end of discovery, or a post-discovery phase, in fact it often marks the beginning, even a pre-discovery phase. Nowhere is this more clearly seen than in the classification of stellar spectra, long before dwarfs, giants and supergiants were known, or their evolutionary sequence recognized. Classification may also be part of a post-discovery phase, as in the MK system of stellar classification, constructed after the discovery of stellar luminosity classes. Some classes are declared rather than discovered, as in the case of gas and ice giant planets, and, infamously, Pluto as a dwarf planet.
10:15 115.02. Long-publishing Astronomers, or the Problem of Classification
Joseph S. Tenn, Sonoma State University.
In response to several discussions among astronomers and historians of astronomy, I started out to prepare a paper on long-publishing astronomers--those who published for 70, 75, or even 80 years. However, I soon ran into a number of questions of classification, and that turned out to be at least as interesting. How do we decide on classifications? Every time we choose classes, such as asteroids, planets and stars, we run into objects that seem to be in between. In the present case a number of questions arise: Who is an astronomer? Several of those with the longest publication runs started out as physicists, published for years in that subject only, and later took up astrophysics, eventually publishing a few (or even no) papers in astronomy journals. What is a publication? Should we count publications in physics, chemistry, or mathematics? What about philosophy of science or history of science? What about the elderly retired astronomer presenting a memoir of his or her own work? Abstracts of oral presentations? Textbooks? Monographs? Book reviews? Obituaries? Then there is the problem of posthumous publications. Probably most would include papers in the pipeline when the astronomer dies, but what about the case where the coauthor finally publishes the paper eight years after the death of the person of interest? I eventually decided to make two lists, one which would include most of the above, and one restricted to papers that make contributions to physical science. Note that I do not say “refereed,” as that presents its own problems, especially when applied to periods before the twentieth century.
10:30 115.03. Perigean Spring Tides and Apogean Neap Tides in History
Donald W. Olson, Texas State University.
On January 4, 1912 - almost exactly 100 years ago - both a full Moon and a lunar perigee occurred, with these two events separated by only a few minutes of time and with the Earth near perihelion. The resulting lunar distance (356,375 km) on that date stands as the closest approach of the Moon to the Earth in an interval of more than 1400 years. The centennial of this extreme lunar perigee is an appropriate time to consider the effect of lunar distance on the range of ocean tides. At most ocean ports, spring tides of increased range occur near new and full Moon. If a lunar perigee falls near new or full Moon, then perigean spring tides of even greater range are possible. Conversely, if a lunar apogee falls near first quarter or last quarter Moon, then apogean neap tides of unusually reduced range can occur. Examples of perigean spring tides include a near-coincidence of lunar perigee and new Moon in December 1340 that may be related to a plot device in Chaucer's “The Franklin's Tale,” a Canterbury tale that describes an extreme high tide covering the rocks on the coast of Brittany in “the cold and frosty season of December.” Another example, the disaster known as the Bristol Channel Flood, occurred shortly after a lunar perigee and new Moon in January 1607. A German U-boat employed an exceptionally high perigean spring tide shortly after the new Moon of October 1939 to enter Scapa Flow by an unexpected route and sink the HMS Royal Oak. An apogean neap tide prevailed during the amphibious assault of the U. S. Marines at Tarawa in November 1943, making the eventual victory more costly because the landing craft were unable to reach the island and instead grounded on the surrounding reef.
10:45 115.04. Use of Monte Carlo Methods for Evaluating Probability of False Positives in Archaeoastronomy Alignments
Anthony B. Hull, University of New Mexico, C. Ambruster, Delanova University, & E. Jewell, University of Phoenix.
Simple Monte Carlo simulations can assist both the cultural astronomy researcher while the Research Design is developed and the eventual evaluators of research products. Following the method we describe allows assessment of the probability for there to be false positives associated with a site. Even seemingly evocative alignments may be meaningless, depending on the site characteristics and the number of degrees of freedom the researcher allows. In many cases, an observer may have to limit comments to “it is nice and it might be culturally meaningful, rather than saying “it is impressive so it must mean something”. We describe a basic language with an associated set of attributes to be cataloged. These can be used to set up simple Monte Carlo simulations for a site. Without collaborating cultural evidence, or trends with similar attributes (for example a number of sites showing the same anticipatory date), the Monte Carlo simulation can be used as a filter to establish the likeliness that the observed alignment phenomena is the result of random factors. Such analysis may temper any eagerness to prematurely attribute cultural meaning to an observation. For the most complete description of an archaeological site, we urge researchers to capture the site attributes in a manner which permits statistical analysis. We also encourage cultural astronomers to record that which does not work, and that which may seem to align, but has no discernable meaning. Properly reporting situational information as tenets of the research design will reduce the subjective nature of archaeoastronomical interpretation. Examples from field work will be discussed.
11:00 115.05. Discovery that the Magnitudes in the Ancient Star Catalogs of Ptolemy, Al-Sufi, and Tycho Were All Corrected for Atmospheric Extinction
Bradley E. Schaefer, Louisiana State University.
The three ancient star catalogs of Ptolemy (c. 127, Alexandria Egypt), Al Sufi (c. 961, Isfahan Iran), and Tycho Brahe (c. 1600, Hven now in Sweden) all record independent measures of the visual magnitudes of close to a thousand stars over their entire visible sky. For stars culminating 60° from zenith to the south (around -29° declination for Alexandria), they should appear roughly a quarter or a third of a magnitude fainter than those at zenith, and this is easily detected with the many stars near this declination band, despite the quantization of the reported magnitudes to roughly one third of a magnitude. For stars near the southern limit, the dimming should be 1-2 mag. To seek this effect, I use stars culminating near zenith to set up a correspondence between the reported magnitudes and modern V magnitudes, compare the modern equivalent magnitude to the star's real magnitude, and looked to see the dimming as the southern horizon is approached. Surprisingly, no dimming towards the south is viewed in any of the three ancient star catalogs. A formal fit to the effective extinction coefficient for each catalog is +0.01+-0.01, +0.05+-0.01, and +0.01+-0.01 mag/airmass respectively. That is, the reported magnitudes have already been corrected for extinction. This new result is surprising because no astronomer or historian has previously reported the effect. This is also surprising because no written source before 1729 even mentions the existence of the phenomenon of extinction (although the effect is easily recognized by any studious visual observer), so the expectation would be that the pre-telescopic astronomers were not aware of the phenomenon, not interested, or not able to do the corrections. Nevertheless, this discovery that the ancient catalogers all corrected for extinction opens new horizons in 'archaeophotometry' and new recognition for the ability of pre-telescopic observers.
11:15 115.06. Where Did John Goodricke Make His Observations? New Evidence
Linda French, Illinois Wesleyan University.
Much effort has gone into determining the location from which John Goodricke (1764-1786) made most of his observations. Sidney Melmore (1949) made the first determination, and he decided that the most likely location was a south-facing window of Treasurer’s House, a large property facing onto York Minster, the largest Gothic cathedral in Northern Europe. Melmore made his determination by looking at the stars observed by Goodricke in his “Journal of the Going of My Clock,” from which it is possible to infer the direction in which Goodricke was looking. There are problems with Melmore’s identification, however: the wing of Treasurer’s House he identified was, at that time, occupied by several spinster daughters of a wealthy landowner. The presence of these ladies makes it highly unlikely that a teenaged boy would have been allowed in to make astronomical observations at night. An alternative solution is presented.
11:30 End of session.
HAD Business Meeting
Session #120: Monday, 9 Jan 2012, 12:45–1:45 p.m.
Session Chair: Jarita Holbrook, University of Arizona.
HAD V History of Astronomy
Session #133: Monday, 9 Jan 2012, 2:00–3:30 p.m.
Session Chair: Wayne H. Osborn, Central Michigan University.
2:00 133.01. Mapping the Cosmos on a Ceiling: Reflection Sundials from the Seventeenth Century to the Present
Woodruff T. Sullivan III, University of Washington.
Ceiling reflection sundials employ a small horizontal mirror, say on a south-facing window sill, to cast a spot of sunlight to the ceiling and/or walls of a room or gallery. In this way the linear scale of the daily and annual motions of the sun are greatly amplified, allowing a plethora of information to be displayed and read. Besides the time of day and the date, typical quantities included the altitude and azimuth of the sun, the declination of the sun, the number of hours since sunrise, the length of daylight, the sign of the zodiac, the sidereal time, etc. The principles for planning and calculating these sundials were first laid out in detail in 17th century Italy by the Jesuit scholars Athanasius Kircher and Emmanuel Maignan: two reflection dials of the latter still survive today in Rome, at Trinità dei Monti (1637) and Palazzo Spada (1644). A third extant example can be found at the Lycée Stendhal in Grenoble, built by a Jesuit priest named Bonfa in 1673. This talk will describe and illustrate these complex sundials, as well as a recently completed ceiling dial, inspired by their example, in the New World (Seattle).
2:15 133.02. Music and Astronomy: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives
Matthew Whitehouse, University of Arizona.
The link between music and astronomy has deep historical roots. William Herschel, who is considered to be the father of modern astronomy, began his career as a musician. He was a composer, organist at a church in Bath, UK, and a major contributor to the musical life of that community. Like Herschel, I too am an organist and composer, and much of my creative work focuses on connections between music and astronomy. This presentation will explore briefly aspects of William Herschel's musical career, and will then focus on contemporary music inspired by astronomical phenomena. Emphasis will be placed on the use of music as a creative teaching tool in informal education environments. The University of Arizona's Astronomy Camp, hosted at both Mt. Lemmon and Kitt Peak National Observatory, will be used as an example and case study. Examples from my creative activity as an organ performer and composer will be important features of this presentation. This presentation builds on the session exploring the life and work of the Herschels at the January 2011 AAS Historical Astronomy Division meeting in Seattle, WA.
2:30 133.03. George William Hill, the Great but Unknown 19th Century Celestial Mechanician
Brenda G. Corbin, U.S. Naval Observatory (Retired).
George William Hill (1838-1914) has long been considered one of the most famous and talented celestial mechanicians of the past century and a half. However, many people have never heard of him and his work. Simon Newcomb said he “... will easily rank as the greatest master of mathematical astronomy during the last quarter of the nineteenth century.” After receiving a B.A. at Rutgers in 1859, Hill began work in 1861 at the office of the American Ephemeris and Nautical Almanac in Cambridge, MA. He moved to Washington with the group in 1882 which then became part of the U. S. Naval Observatory. Newcomb, beginning his work on planetary motion, assigned the theory of Jupiter and Saturn to him, calling it about the most difficult topic. Hill's work was published by the USNO in 1890 as A New Theory of Jupiter and Saturn. From 1898 to 1901, Hill lectured on the subject of celestial mechanics at Columbia University in a position created just for him. After 1892 and until his death, he lived at the family homestead in West Nyack, NY. He never married, was something of a recluse, and spent most of his time with his books and research. Hill was an amateur botanist and enjoyed exploring on long walks in the countryside. Many honors and awards came to him during his lifetime, both from the U.S. and abroad, including serving as president of the American Mathematical Society. All of Hill's mathematical and astronomical research was incorporated in The Collected Mathematical Works of George William Hill. This work, containing a preface in French by Poincaré, was published in 4 large volumes by the Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1905.
2:45 133.04. A Century of Science at the South Pole: From Struggling to Survive to Exploring New and Unseen Frontiers
Shelly Hynes, National Science Foundation Office of Polar Programs, L. Bacque, IceCube Research Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, & R. Landsberg, Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics.
In December of 1911, Norwegian Roald Amundsen and his team became the first to reach the geographic South Pole. Briton Robert F. Scott also reached the South Pole a month later on the 17th of January, 1912. Their successful treks to the South Pole were part of an international rivalry equivalent in its time to the “Space Race” of the 1960’s. 100 years later, the National Science Foundation's Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station is home to two massive cutting-edge instruments that are yielding new insights into the Universe at both the smallest and largest scales. The 280-ton, 10-meter South Pole Telescope is probing anisotropies in the cosmic microwave background to understand the nature of Dark Energy and the infant Universe. The IceCube Neutrino Observatory, a cubic kilometer of instrumented ice, searches for evidence of high energy neutrinos that may originate in violent astrophysical events such as supernovae, gamma ray bursts, and active galactic nuclei, as well as help us understand dark matter. The session will highlight education and outreach initiatives associated with both projects.
3:00 133.05. Astronomers in the Chemist’s War
Virginia L. Trimble, University of California, Irvine.
World War II, with radar, rockets, and “atomic” bombs was the physicists’ war. And many of us know, or think we know, what our more senior colleagues did during it, with Hubble and Hoffleit at Aberdeen; M. Schwarzschild on active duty in Italy; Bondi, Gold, and Hoyle hunkered down in Dunsfold, Surrey, talking about radar, and perhaps steady state; Greenstein and Henyey designing all-sky cameras; and many astronomers teaching navigation. World War I was The Chemists’ War, featuring poison gases, the need to produce liquid fuels from coal on one side of the English Channel and to replace previously-imported dyestuffs on the other. The talk will focus on what astronomers did and had done to them between 1914 and 1919, from Freundlich (taken prisoner on an eclipse expedition days after the outbreak of hostilities) to Edwin Hubble, returning from France without ever having quite reached the front lines. Other events bore richer fruit (Hale and the National Research Council), but very few of the stories are happy ones. Most of us have neither first nor second hand memories of The Chemists’ War, but I had the pleasure of dining with a former Freundlich student a couple of weeks ago.
3:15 133.06. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence in the 1960s: Science in Popular Culture
Sierra Smith, James Madison University.
Building upon the advancement of technology during the Second World War and the important scientific discoveries which have been made about the structure and components of the universe, scientists, especially in radio astronomy and physics, began seriously addressing the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence in the 1960s. The Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) quickly became one of the most controversial scientific issues in the post Second World War period. The controversy played out, not only in scientific and technical journals, but in newspapers and in popular literature. Proponents for SETI, including Frank Drake, Carl Sagan, and Philip Morrison, actively used a strategy of engagement with the public by using popular media to lobby for exposure and funding. This paper will examine the use of popular media by scientists interested in SETI to popularize and heighten public awareness and also to examine the effects of popularization on SETI's early development. My research has been generously supported by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.
3:30 End of session.
AAS Plenary Session: Doggett Prize
Session #: Monday, 9 Jan 2012, 4:30–5:20 p.m.
Session Chair: Thomas Hockey, University of Northern Iowa.
4:30 Presentation of the LeRoy E. Doggett Prize for Historical Astronomy
Thomas Hockey, Chair, HAD Prize Committee.
4:35 Cosmic Noise: The Pioneers of Early Radio Astronomy and Their Discoveries
Woodruff T. Sullivan, III, University of Washington.
Extraterrestrial radio waves (the galactic background), often referred to as “cosmic noise”, were first detected accidentally by Karl Jansky at a frequency of 20 MHz in 1932, with significant followup by Grote Reber. Yet after World War II it was England and Australia that dominated the field. An entirely different sky from that of visual astronomy was revealed by the discoveries of solar noise, “radio stars” (discrete sources such as Cas A, Tau A, Cyg A, Cen A and Vir A), galactic noise, lunar and meteor radar experiments, the detection of the 21 cm hydrogen line, and eventually optical identifications such as the Crab Nebula and M87. Key players included wartime radar experts such as Stanley Hey (the British Army's Operational Research Group), Martin Ryle (Cambridge University), Bernard Lovell (Jodrell Bank) and Joe Pawsey (Radiophysics Lab, Sydney). Younger leaders also emerged such as Graham Smith, Tony Hewish, John Davies, “Chris” Christiansen, Bernie Mills, Paul Wild, and John Bolton. Some optical astronomers (Jan Oort, Henk van de Hulst, Jesse Greenstein, Rudolph Minkowski, and Walter Baade) were also extremely supportive. By the end of the postwar decade, radio astronomy was firmly established within the gamut of astronomy, although very few of its practitioners had been trained as astronomers.
I will also trace the technical and social aspects of this wholly new type of astronomy, with special attention on military and national influences. I argue that radio astronomy represents one of the key developments in twentieth century astronomy not only because of its own discoveries, but also its pathfinding for the further opening of the electromagnetic spectrum.
This study is based on exhaustive archival research and over one hundred interviews with pioneering radio astronomers. Full details are available in Cosmic Noise: A History of Early Radio Astronomy (Cambridge University Press, 2009).
5:20 End of session.
Complete program of 2012 AAS/HAD meeting