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January 2019 HAD Meeting Seattle

January 2019 HAD Meeting: Seattle

All sessions and meetings will be held in the Washington State Convention Center.

HAD I:  The Spitzer Observatory: The evolution of a space mission from initial idea, through years of competition and debate, followed by arduous solution of technical problems before launch and the acquisition of novel astronomical data

Sunday. January 6th, 2:00 - 3:30 pm (Meeting Rooms 618/619)

Session Chair: Martin Harwit

001.01   Making the Invisible Visible: A History of the Spitzer Infrared Telescope Facility (1971-2003)

   2:00   Renee Rottner  (University of California)

This talk describes the development of NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope until its launch in 2003. As a project requiring cooperation between the public and private sectors, Spitzer ultimately involved more than 1,000 people from 24 organizations including government, universities, and for-profit firms. In the early 1970s, there was but a small group of advocates for an infrared space telescope. They faced a set of daunting challenges: infrared astronomy was a new field, cooled electronic sensors were a new technology, and placing a complex observatory in space was many years off.

Under development for nearly three decades, the project encountered many technological, scientific, economic, and political hurdles. Spitzer also had to remain nimble as the key stakeholders changed over time—in their composition, goals, and influence. By presenting Spitzer in its historical context, I discuss the some of the strategies the project team used to overcome the challenges in building a one-of-a-kind telescope facility while working across diverse institutions.

This work was supported under NASA Contract NNH08CC97C for the development of NASA History Series Monograph SP-2017-4547.

001.02   Minefields of Opportunity: Getting Spitzer into Space

   2:30   David Gallagher  (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

The Spitzer Space Telescope has dramatically exceeded scientific expectations and been an enormous success for NASA and the world. Having just completed 15 years of discovery and providing answers to some of the most challenging scientific questions, it is appropriate to pause and consider some of the lessons learned in getting this fabulous mission into space. These lessons are divided into the following categories and the talk will address each area:

  • Sponsor relationships
  • Creating and organizing the project team
  • Take advantage of the Science Team and community
  • Reviews
  • It’s the people!
  • Selecting and managing contractors.

While there are numerous technical and scientific details that can and are addressed in other presentations, it is important to examine the leadership and management approach that helped create the environment for success.

This paper is based in part on work carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA.


001.03   Though She Be But Little, She is Fierce; Spitzer's Scientific Success

   3:00   Michael Werner  (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

The Spitzer Space Telescope has just completed its 15th year of on-orbit operations, and its scientific success has far outstripped even the wildest dreams of those of us who brought the facility to fruition. One measure of that success is that our tally of peer-reviewed papers has just passed 8,000, which amounts to 1.5 papers published each day of the 15 years of operation. The scientific targets observed span the Universe from Near Earth Objects to galaxies at z>11, and Spitzer has addressed the three fundamental questions of modern astrophysics: Where did we come from? How did the Universe evolve? Are we Alone?

In addition to presenting key scientific results from Spitzer which bear on each of these questions, this talk will discuss the reasons for Spitzer’s scientific success, which are many and varied. These include: 1. The intrinsic sensitivity of a cooled space telescope for infrared observations; 2. The imaging and spectroscopic power of Spitzer’s arrays; 3. The use of radiative cooling in a heliocentric orbit; 4. The simplicity and robustness of Spitzer’s three instruments and the Spitzer spacecraft; the cooperation of the Universe, which has continually presented Spitzer with new phenomena to study; and 5. The flexibility and dependability of Spitzer operations, which have allowed Spitzer to respond to these new challenges. In addition, the timing of Spitzer with respect to other missions, past and present, has benefitted Spitzer science. With that said, however, the single most significant reason for Spitzer’s success is people – both those who worked on the design and development of the facility and the many scientists from around the world who have implemented their own scientific vision using Spitzer.

This paper is based in part on research carried out at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA.


HAD II:  Astronomical History: The Early Years, Room 618/619

Session #117: Monday, January 7th, 10:00 - 11:30 am (Meeting Rooms 618/619)

Session Chair: Alan Hirshfeld


117.01   The Significance of Zero in Hindu and Mayan Cosmologies

 10:00   Aparna Venkatesan and S. Verma (University of San Francisco)

The invention of the number zero in the cultures of India and central America had a profound impact not only on the development of mathematics, astronomy, and science worldwide, but on Hindu and Mayan worldviews and cultural practices. Here we present emerging results from our ongoing research on the independent invention of zero in Hindu and Mayan cultures, and how it shaped their cultural/spiritual perspectives. We suggest that the development of their complex calendars and unique cosmologies, involving timescales over many orders of magnitude and running up to billions or trillions of years, is intimately tied to the discovery of zero, and directly led to these cultures' distinctive sense of place and relation to an ever-evolving cyclic universe.

117.02   Zodiacal Light: From Holy Light to False Dawn

 10:10   George Latura

‘As the voice spoke, all at once, a shaft of holy light bound together heaven and earth with its radiance.’ (Euripides, Bakkhai, trans. Mueller, 2005, p. 216). In Euripides’ play (c. 405 BCE), Dionysus manifests a ‘holy light.’ Pindar links Dionysus to ‘the holy light at summer’s end’ (trans. Race, 1997, p. 381), which is best explained as the zodiacal light that is most visible at the equinox. Although Cassini is credited with the scientific discovery of the zodiacal light in Western Europe (c. 1680), this ethereal light had purportedly been known in ancient times by Egyptians, Phoenicians, and others (Gandz, 1943).

The Egyptians worshipped the god Sopt, or Sopdu, ‘Lord of the East,’ as the embodiment of the zodiacal light. Sopt‘s name was written with an upward-pointing triangle, the shape of the zodiacal light (Gandz, 1939). The use of the zodiacal light in the Egyptian solar cult was also proposed in a report in the ARCE Journal (Gary, Talcott, 2006), where it was seen as the herald of Ra returning from the underworld.

A recent paper hypothesized that the zodiacal light might have been the astronomical component of the Mysteries of Eleusis that were celebrated near Athens for a thousand years (Latura, 2018). The Lesser Mysteries were held in the spring, while the Greater Mysteries took place in autumn (Milonas, 1961). The zodiacal light appears most prominently at the opposite equinoctial seasons (Kelley, Milone, 2005), which suggests cultic connections that were kept secret through oaths of silence (Latura, 2014).

In Arabia, the zodiacal light was known at least since the time of Mohammed (c. 600 CE). Muslim tradition (hadith) refers to the zodiacal light as the ‘false dawn’ or ‘tail of the wolf’ due to its vertical shape, as opposed to the true dawn that appears horizontally. This information was important because, during the month of Ramadan, devout Muslims had to fast during the day, but could eat at night. Knowledge of the zodiacal light was necessary so that the faithful would know the correct time when eating stops and prayer begins: the true dawn.

What cultural forces might have shaped the journey of the zodiacal light from holy light to false dawn?


117.03   Greek Development of the Stellar Magnitude System: A New Interpretation

 10:20   Clifford Cunningham  (University of Southern Queensland)

A long-standing misinterpretation of a text by Hipparchus on stellar magnitudes leads to the conclusion Ptolemy employed two different systems to describe stellar brightness. The scale of 6 magnitudes employed by Ptolemy was based on Manilius' Astronomicon (c. 10-20 CE), not that of Hipparchus as many modern texts claim. The numerical magnitudes Ptolemy incorporated in his star catalogue, published as part of the Almagest (c. 150CE), are at least partly his own, but descriptive magnitudes derive from Hipparchus; his work, in turn, owes its origin to Eudoxus. The inclusion of 'dark stars' in Ptolemy's catalogue has been noted by a few scholars, but never explained; the lack of literature on such an important topic is extraordinary. 'Dark star' is an example of a descriptive magnitude that enters the work of Ptolemy from Eudoxus; the research presented here offers the first explanation of 'dark stars'. The description of a particular small group of stars as dark and nebulous noted by Ptolemy is traced to its origin in a Babylonian tablet that recorded astronomical information dating to the 12th century BCE, thus establishing for the first time a transmission of descriptive magnitudes spanning more than 1,200 years.

117.04   Viking Sunstones for Celestial Navigation Were Certainly Not Crystals of Calcite or Cordierite

 10:30   Bradley Schaefer  (Louisiana State University)

Viking sagas from medieval Iceland tell of a celestial navigation aid called a Sunstone, used to find the Sun's position on a cloudy day. No useful textual/archaeological/ethnographic evidence exists, so we do not know the nature of the Sunstones. In 1967, T. Ramskou speculated that the Sunstone was a crystal of calcite or cordierite, used to measure the direction of polarization in the sky, with this pattern pointing out the Sun's position. Singly scattered sunlight is polarization perpendicular to the Sun's direction. This is easily seen by holding a modern polarizing filter up to the eye and rotating it until the blue skylight is darkest to get the orientation. To test Ramskou's speculation, I have made extensive tests with many crystals, many configurations, and many cloud conditions, all throughout the North Atlantic around Iceland and Greenland. In practice, the basic crystals work poorly in perfectly blue skies, with it working better for anachronistic configurations involving pinholes. When the clouds allow only small holes of blue sky, the crystals fail. At the same time, in practice, the real position of the Sun is always obvious from simple naked eye observations, e.g., from seeing bright patches of sky, shadows on cloud edges, and crepuscular rays. With no blue patches of sky, the crystals fail, and even the polarizer filters fail. In cloud or fog conditions with no blue skies but broken or not-thick clouds, the position of the Sun is usually obvious from various light and dark areas in the sky or on the sea, albeit with only ~30° accuracy. If the clouds have no holes and are thick, then no method has any chance of working. I conclude that crystals can be used to determine the direction to the Sun only when the sky has large blue patches, in which case the position of the Sun is always easily seen directly. In cases with small blue patches or not-thick clouds, the crystals do not work, but visual examination of the sky will show the Sun's position with useable accuracy. No method works when the clouds are thick and non-broken. This is all to conclude that "Sunstones were not crystals".

117.05   Disappearing the Milky Way in Medieval Europe

 10:40   George Latura

Ancient astronomical knowledge of the Milky Way survived in medieval Western Europe through Martianus Capella’s Marriage of Philology and Mercury and Macrobius’ Commentary on the Dream of Scipio (McCluskey, 1998).

But these texts also transmitted a Platonist belief that ecclesiastical authorities found disturbing – the pagan belief that the celestial abode of virtuous souls was the Milky Way (according to Macrobius, Martianus Capella, Porphyry, Numenius, Manilius, Ovid, Cicero, and a student at Plato’s Academy, Heraclides of Pontus).

Twelfth-century Chartrian scholars who delved into related Platonist matters were censured, and at times, accused of heresy (Dutton, 2006; Ellard, 2007).

Various strategies evolved to combat the perceived threat of the Platonist Milky Way. Michael Scot (c. 1225) hung the label ‘Demon Meridianus’ on the Milky Way (Bertola, 2003; Harris, 2012) in an attempt to demonize it. Sacrobosco, whose De Sphaera was one of the most popular astronomical university texts of the era, ignored the Galaxy altogether (see Thorndike, 1949), as if it simply did not exist.

But the most effective tactic would be provided by Plato’s other student, Aristotle, who had removed the Milky Way from the heavens and placed it in the sublunary atmospheric region (Meteorologica, trans. Lee, 1916, pp. 57-63).

Perusing Moerbeke’s new translations of Aristotle’s works from Greek (c. 1260), Aquinas adopted Aristotle as The Philosopher, displacing Plato from that lofty position. This coup introduced an anti-Platonism that lasted for centuries and that scholars still find difficult to comprehend (Hankins, 1996).

The status of the Milky Way might provide a key to this puzzle. On the Platonist side, the Milky Way was a celestial phenomenon. On the Aristotelian side, it was an atmospheric phenomenon. How could this dilemma be resolved?

Enter Galileo who, with his telescopic observations (Sidereus Nuncius, 1610), placed the Milky Way squarely among the stars.


117.06   The Confluence of Some Ideas Used by Copernicus in De Revolutionibus

 10:50   Kevin Krisciunas  (Texas A&M University)

Copernicus (1473-1543) first became familiar with ancient Greek astronomy via the Epitome of Ptolemy's Almagest by Georg Peurbach and Regiomontanus (ca. 1463); the full translation of the Almagest was published in Venice in 1515. The Almagest had been translated into Latin by Gerard of Cremona and Galib the Mozarab. This was completed in Toledo about 1175. How do we know this? From an eyewitness account by the Englishman Daniel of Morley. Copernicus's great book contains a diagram almost identical to one in a work of Nasir al-Din al-Tusi (1201-1274), the founder of the Maragha Observatory. Copernicus also uses a lemma attributed to a second astronomer who worked in Maragha, Mu'ayyad al-Din al-Urdi (d. 1266). There is evidence that the insights of the Maragha school became known in Byzantium thanks in part to the efforts of Gregory Chioniades (ca. 1240-1320). Copernicus's model of the motion of the Moon is identical to that of Ibn al-Shatir (1304-1375). How much Copernicus's model of the motion of Mercury is similar to that of Ibn al-Shatir is controversial. Recent investigations concerning the Jewish scholar Moses Galeano, who lived in Constantinople, Crete, and the Veneto, lend credence to the notion that the insights of the Maragha school reached Padua in the years 1497 to 1502 thanks to Galeano. This overlaps the very years that Copernicus studied astronomy in Padua. Thus, we now understand how some of the building blocks used by Copernicus were obtained by his teachers or directly by him.

117.07   The Path to Newton: An Interactive Infographic

 11:00   Alyssa Goodman, Brohinsky, D. Lichtenstein, (Harvard University), and K. Peek

"The Path to Newton" is a new interactive infographic designed to tell the backstory of how the findings and ideas of observers, natural philosophers and scientists interacted in order to ultimately permit Newton to make his theory of gravity. The graphic includes images (and hyperlinked profiles) of dozens of scientists and their scholarly works, and it shows the linkages between their ideas. Some ideas are called out as steps "toward" Newton, and others as less helpful. The work was motivated by a new online edX educational resource, PredictionX (see that covers the history of how humans have predicted their futures, from Ancient Babylonian times up to the present. The central piece of PredictionX focuses on the evolution from detailed observations and record keeping (e.g. in Ancient Mesopotamia or Egypt) to empirically-based mathematical explanations (e.g. Ptolemy or Kepler) to truly physical, predictive, theory (Newton). In addition to calling out individuals and their ideas, the piece also highlights evolution in mathematics and instrumentation that allowed for progress along the path. The Path to Newton crosses through many cultures and regions, starting in Ancient Mesopotamia, traversing Ancient Egypt and Greece, then India and the Islamic world, and then finally Europe. While the piece was originally intended to be experienced online, as its elements are linked to rich background material, it makes a fabulous large-format printed poster, which will be displayed at the American Astronomical Meeting.

117.08   William Herschel's Universe as Illustrated Through His Studies of Comets and the Moon

 11:10   Woodruff Sullivan  (University of Washington)

The remarkable astronomical career of William Herschel (1738-1822) is too often characterized as simply that he (1) discovered Uranus, (2) made big telescopes, and (3) cataloged star clusters and nebulae. But he did far more, and in this talk I will argue that, for example, his detailed observations and interpretations of several major comets and of the Moon illustrate virtually all aspects of the cosmos as he understood it. Herschel's unified universe was teleological, ordered, and ubiquitously inhabited. These principles, when combined with his indefatigable decades of observation, led him to two more fundamental properties of the universe: it was active and changing, and vastly extended in time and space. With his unifying concept of a planet (meaning something much broader than today's definition), he brought together almost all of the objects and phenomena that he observed inside and outside the solar system.

117.09   Explaining Algol: Eclipses or Spots?

 11:20   Linda French  (Illinois Wesleyan University)

On 12 November 1782, 18-year-old John Goodricke was astonished to find the star Algol (Beta Persei) more than a magnitude fainter than usual. He wrote in his journal: "This night I looked at Beta Persei and was much surprised [sic] to find its brightness altered—It now appears of about the 4thmagnitude…I observed it diligently for about an hour—I hardly believed that it changed its brightness because I never heard of any star varying so quickly in its brightness. I thought it might perhaps be owing to an optical illusion, a defect in my eyes, or bad air, but the sequel will show that its change is true and that I was not mistaken." (Goodricke Journal)

Goodricke and his friend and mentor Edward Pigott were searching for variable stars. In their time, only Mira (Omicron Ceti) had been well studied. Mira’s known period of variation of approximately 11 months explains Goodricke’s surprise at a star varying over a period of hours. The two went on to determine a time between dimming episodes of 2 days 20 hours, and 49 seconds. In his report, Goodricke concluded: "I should imagine [Algol’s variation] could hardly be accounted for otherwise than either by the interposition of a large body revolving round Algol, or some kind of motion of its own, whereby part of its body, covered with spots or such like matter, is periodically turned towards the Earth." (Goodricke, Phil. Trans.) Through spectroscopy, Vogel (1889) was able to show that Algol is a true binary star. In the time of Goodricke and Pigott, spectroscopy was not available, and no stars had yet been confirmed to be binaries. Astronomers had seen sunspots, however, and so the spot hypothesis gained favor. The circumstances surrounding the discovery of Algol’s variation, its announcement to the scientific community (including a report read by William Herschel in a pub!), and the evolution of the accepted hypotheses to explain the variation will be discussed.


HAD Town Hall

Session #119: Monday, January 7th,, 1:00 - 2:00 pm  (Meeting Rooms 618-620)

Session Chair: Ken Rumstay (Valdosta State University)


HAD III:  Astronomical History: Modern Times

Session #135: Monday, January 7th, 2:00–3:30 pm (meeting room 618/619)

Session Chair: Kevin Krisciunas


135.01   Astronomers' Productive Lifetimes

  2:00    Peter Broughton

Astronomers born since 1920 generally have had a longer formal training period than did their predecessors from the previous century when doctorates (and post-doctoral work) were less common. Does this imply that the average age at which astronomers publish their first scientific paper has increased over the years? Also, it is well-known that people generally lead longer lives now than they did in the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Should we therefore expect that the average age at which astronomers write their last paper has also increased over the years? In this paper, I attempt to answer these questions based on astronomers born between 1820 and 1919 (according to the Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers), supplemented with recently deceased members of the AAS as listed on their HAD Division website. I have used the SAO/NASA Astrophysics Data System (ADS) to determine the years in which their papers were published in refereed journals.

135.02   AstroGen: Sixth Annual Report

  2:10    Joseph Tenn  (Sonoma State University)

The AstroGen Team continues to compile a database of the world's astronomy-related doctoral dissertations and the institutions that have awarded the degrees. We now have approximately 27,000 theses listed. For each country we go back to the beginning of the modern Ph.D. or equivalent. More than half of the doctorates were awarded in 2000 or later. For each thesis we try to include the author (with links to a website or obituary), awarding institution, year of degree, thesis title, link to the thesis if online (nearly two-thirds are), translation of title if necessary, advisor(s), and other mentors. For universities and other doctorate-awarding institutions, we include names (both at time of degree and today), dates, and locations.

Posting the database on the AAS website has been delayed by major changes in the AAS handling of IT, but we are hopeful that it will appear within the next year. I will present some summaries of our results to date and conduct a discussion of how we can expand our database. We have people currently working on France and Russia, but we need volunteers with linguistic ability and, preferably, familiarity with the academic cultures to take on Germany, Italy, and nearly all the countries of Asia.


135.03   Astronomy Meets the Periodic Table

  2.20     Virginia Trimble  (University of California at Irvine)

The world chemical community is celebrating 2019 as the 150th anniversary of Mendeleev's periodic table (there were at least 6 earlier and many later). Astronomy has been both a supplier (helium, never mind coronium and nebulium, and relative abundances of the elements not well represented on earth) and a consumer (what to look for where), though nucleosynthesis is, of course, correlated with nuclear rather than chemical properties. Among the interesting people involved over the years have been F.W. Clarke (US Geological Service and later a president of the American Chemical Society), Frederick Aston (of the mass spectrograph), Cecilia Payne (dominance of H and He in K giants), Atkinson and Houtermans (barrier penetration and something like the CNO cycle a decade before Bethe), and, most famously, A.G.W. Cameron and Burbidge, Burbidge, Fowler, and Hoyle, who put it all together in 1957. It might be fun to look back at what these colleagues and some others did.

135.04   The Dominion Astrophysical Observatory (DAO) Celebrates 100 Years of Successes

  2:30    Dennis Crabtree and J.E. Hesser  (National Research Council Canada)

The DAO was the world's largest operating telescope when it began operation in in May, 1918, The 1.8-m telescope was the vision of John Stanley Plaskett who was also the first Director of the observatory. The DAO, and its early accomplishments firmly established Canada on the world stage of modern astrophysics and was the foundation for 100 years of Canadian excellence in astrophysics. Construction on the telescope began just before World War I erupted and completed 6 months before the end of the war. The story of its initiation and construction is one that includes politics, international cooperation in astronomy, determination and a measure of luck!

135.05   Aden Baker Meinel – Rocket Scientist, Astronomer, Optical Scientist, Director

  2:40    James Breckinridge  (University of Arizona)

At the age of 18 Aden was designing and fabricating optical instruments in the shops of Mt. Wilson observatory. Japan bombed Pearl Harbor during his sophomore year at Caltech and he joined the campus V-12 program of the Navy to engineer and build rockets for what became JPL. Drafted in 1944, the Navy assigned him to Patton’s Army to find V-2 rocket technology. After the war, the GI bill to support the completion of his degrees in 3 years. Aden married Marjorie Pettit, a daughter of Edison Pettit who became Aden’s science instrument mentor.

For Aden’s PhD dissertation he built a solid Schmidt spectrograph and used IR emulsions to discover the HO bands in the night sky. On the faculty at Yerkes he discovered that Protons from the sun cause Aurora and thus demonstrated the sun-earth particle connection.

In 1955 Aden began site-surveys at 4 mountain tops in the SW to identify a location for KPNO. He was the founding director of KPNO. In the fall of 1961 Aden moved from KPNO to be Dir. of Steward Observatory for the three-year period before Bart Bok’s arrival. Aden’s reputation as a telescope builder and his writings about space telescopes attracted the interest of the Air Force space surveillance leadership.

About this same time the OSA completed a study of the Nation’s needs in optical science and engineering research & education. Meinel’s proposals from the UofA to the NSF and the USAF to fund optical sciences research and education were funded at the several million dollars level. The Optical Sciences Center was formed in 1964 and 77,000 square foot facility was dedicated in 1967. Aden served a director until 1971, when solar energy consumed his time. Today the college of optical sciences has graduated over 2,000 scientists and engineers, occupies 180,000 sq. ft. and has over 100 teaching and research faculty.

Aden received many awards during his lifetime. They include: AAS Warner Prize & Council & AIP governing board & IAU Commission #9: Vice pres. (1971-73); Pres. (1973-76) & the OSA Adolph Lomb Medal; Ives Medal; President & SPIE Kingslake & Gold Medal & Goddard awards.


135.06   Apollo Astronaut Training at Arizona’s Observatories

  2:50    Kevin Schindler  (Lowell Observatory)

As part of their training to explore the Moon, Apollo astronauts visited several astronomical observatories in Arizona, including Lowell, Kitt Peak, the Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station (NOFS) and the campus observatory at Arizona State College (now Northern Arizona University - NAU). This involved comparing live observations of the Moon through telescopes with photographs of the lunar surface, as well as studying charts to familiarize themselves with the depiction of topographic features. The first of this training occurred in January 1963, when the Next 9 group of astronauts traveled to Flagstaff. They visited Meteor Crater—to study an impact crater like they would see on the Moon—and Sunset Crater to explore volcanic structures. They then headed to Lowell Observatory to learn about the lunar mapping being carried out there by the Aeronautical Chart and Information Center (ACIC), a branch of the United States Air Force. Later, the astronauts split into three groups for viewing the Moon through telescopes, with one group staying at Lowell, another going to the campus observatory, and the third heading to NOFS. The following year, several smaller groups of astronauts, representing the first three classes, went to Kitt Peak during trips that also saw them study geology elsewhere in the state. At Kitt Peak they enjoyed the unusual opportunity of viewing the Moon through the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope.

135.07   The Hubble Space Telescope and the Growth of Mass Science

  3:00    Christopher Gainor

Long before it was launched in 1990, the Hubble Space Telescope (HST) was known as one of the ultimate examples of Big Science, usually thought of as massive centralized science projects. HST’s first decade of operations saw scientists using it to form larger research groups than had been common for other telescopes. Driven in part by its time allocation process, HST research programs soon led to larger numbers of authors for each paper in peer-reviewed journals in astronomy and astrophysics. The creation of the HST data archive using calibrated data has made its observations available to large numbers of scientists who would otherwise not have access to them. HST has helped facilitate the shift of astronomy from a solitary pursuit to a mass activity. HST has also been impacted by the wider changes affecting astronomy, including the rise of personal computers and the internet in the 1990s. These changes fostered the creation of research groups made up of scientists from different institutions from different parts of the world. Moreover, astronomers have moved to the use of multiple instruments on Earth and in space to make their observations across the electromagnetic spectrum. This paper will examine HST’s role in changes that have affected how astronomy is done since 1990. It will also place the widely publicized HST into the context of changes that have been taking place in astronomy in general.

135.08   Radio Source Counts, Type 1a SN, and the Steady State Universe Revisited

  3:10    Kenneth Kellermann  (National Radio Astronomy Observatory)

By the early 1960s, radio source observations made in Cambridge, UK appeared to provide convincing evidence for an evolving Universe, although radio astronomers in Sydney, Australia claimed that their data was consistent with the Steady State cosmological model. We now know that both the Cambridge and Sydney data were heavily contaminated by experimental errors, by inappropriate statistical analysis, and by a naive understanding of the theoretical predictions. The Sydney data were closer to current observations but they reached the wrong conclusions. The Cambridge data was much worse than the Sydney data; but Cambridge got the right answer. Or did they?

Proponents of the Steady State cosmology argued that the Cambridge source counts could be understood in terms of a local deficiency rather than a cosmological excess. These arguments were refuted by the realization that the “local” hole would need to be hundreds of Megaparsecs in extent, a scale considered then to be “implausible.” But we now know that, indeed, there are such large scale structures in the Universe. The Steady State Universe made predictions and thus could be tested. One such prediction was that the deceleration constant, q0 = -1, so the expansion of the Universe would be accelerating. It is interesting to speculate, how the history of cosmology might have been altered had the magnitude-redshift relation of Type 1a supernovae been recognized before the 1965 discovery of the Cosmic Microwave Background by Penzias and Wilson.


135.09   Historians, Meet the Square Kilometre Array: Navigating the Methodological Challenges of (Very) Contemporary History

  3:20    Rebecca Charbonneau  (University of Cambridge)

Having developed in the middle of the 20th century, alongside the rise of globalization, radio astronomy is a uniquely internationalist scientific field. This talk will briefly summarize the history of international radio astronomy projects, leading up to the proposal for the Square Kilometre Array, a large, on-going international project which aims to build a radio telescope array with one-square kilometre of collecting area. Two primary questions will be addressed during this talk: First, how does the SKA fit in with the larger trend of international scientific collaborations within radio astronomy, and where does it differ? Secondly, what sort of challenges do historians face when studying highly-contemporary subjects, including projects that are still under development, as is the case with the SKA. The research this talk is based off was developed in part from the results of a summer research project at the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, using primary source documents from the collection of Kenneth I. Kellermann. It is part of a larger research project on international scientific collaboration, which is the focus of my PhD dissertation at the University of Cambridge.


Plenary Lecture

Session #138: Monday, January 7th,, 3:40 – 4:30 pm  (Meeting Room 6E)

138.01   Make No Small Plans” (George Ellery Hale, 1868-1938)

HAD IV:  Poster Session

Session #159: Monday, January 7th, 5:30 – 6:30 pm  (Exhibit Hall 4ab)

159.01   The Astronomy Genealogy Project

Joseph Tenn  (Sonoma State University), Arnold H. Rots (CXC, CfA/SAO), and Peter Broughton

The Astronomy Genealogy Project (AstroGen) has been underway since 2013. We are creating a database of all astronomy-related doctoral dissertations. Each entry contains the name(s) of the author, awarding institution, year, title, advisor(s), other important mentors, and links to the thesis if it is online and to a page about the author's professional life (obituary if deceased). Included in the database are names, locations, and other information about universities. An important goal of this project is to enable tracing the academic lineage of all who have ever held a doctorate in an astronomy-related field, through the relation between advisor (academic parent) and doctoral student (academic child). The project is sponsored by the AAS Historical Astronomy Division (HAD). It was conceived and is led by Joseph S. Tenn. AstroGen is modeled after the Mathematics Genealogy Project (, directed by Mitchell Keller. The AstroGen team has had to make a series of decisions regarding the scope and contents of the database, such as what constitutes an eligible dissertation, how to handle the different degrees awarded in different countries, criteria for accepting co-advisors and mentors, dealing with universities that change their names, merge or split, and distinguishing between individuals with the same name. All information is provided in the native language and in English. Most information is obtained from online sources, though some libraries have been visited as well. As of September 2018 we have recorded about 27,000 theses, with Argentina, Australia, Canada, Chile, Denmark, Estonia, Ethiopia, Finland, Greece, Iceland, Iran, Ireland, Mauritius, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Pakistan, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and the United States fairly complete, and we have started work on France, India, and Russia. We need volunteers familiar with the languages and, if possible, the academic cultures of other nations. The emphasis is still on data collection, but the AAS, which is currently undergoing major changes in how it handles IT, has promised to assist in getting the project onto the AAS website in the not-too-distant future.

159.02   Analysis of Montanari’s Observations of Algol

Jason Ybarra, S. Pincus  (Bridgewater College) and A. Pizzetti  (Associazione Astronomica "Geminiano Montanari)

The first recorded mention of the variability of Algol (β Persei) was by the 17th-century astronomer Geminiano Montanari. He observed the star from 1667-1670, during which he noted a change in magnitude on three separate occasions, separated by a year or more. Algol’s variability is known to be 2.867 days, which might suggest Montanari should have observed the variability more often, and more frequently. Montanari however had little reason to continuously observe Algol night after night, given that the only other known variable at the time had a period of 332 days. We present a statistical analysis of observing Algol’s dimming given various parameters and discuss our results with respect to Montanari’s observations.

159.03   Urania in the Marketplace: Radio Telescopes

Kenneth Rumstay  (Valdosta State University)

For over a century the iconic image of the astronomical telescope has been exploited in commercial advertisements for a variety of consumer goods. Astronomy is widely regarded as an exact and precise science, and manufacturers of all manner of mechanical devices, from watches to automobiles, have featured images of telescopes or of astronomers at work to suggest that their products meet these same standards of quality. At the same time, the heavens induce a sense of wonder and many advertisers have located their products in a celestial setting to give them an otherworldly flavor.

With the rapid development of radio astronomy in the post-war years, radio telescopes began to appear in magazines published for the general public. But their use was for the most part restricted to ads for industrial manufacturers. These enormous dishes appear to have been less appealing to the average person, many of whom undoubtedly labored under the assumption that astronomers used them to “listen” to the stars, rather than to watch them. Radio telescopes were used to sell alloys, lubricants and electronics, rather than consumer goods. But at least the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico recognized the Arecibo antenna’s potential to attract tourists!

This work was supported by a faculty development grant from Valdosta State University.


HAD IV:  iPoster Session

Session #172: Monday, January 7th, 5:30 – 6:30 pm  (Exhibit Hall 4ab)

172.01   Lyman's Telescope is Alive and Well!

David Leaphart  (Roper Mountain Science Center)

The year was 1882. The lenses for the new Great Refractor were poured by the Feil Brothers in France and ground by Alvan Clark in Massachusetts. The new telescope was installed in the Halsted Observatory on the Princeton University campus. The telescope was revitalized and moved to the new Princeton FitzRandolph Observatory in 1932. While many used the telescope, the Director of the observatory was Dr. Lyman Spitzer from 1947 to 1979. (I now refer to the Great Refractor affectionately as "Lyman's telescope.") When Princeton sold the telescope to the Navy in 1964, it was put out of operation and stored in a warehouse. That could easily have been the end of the great instrument. However, in 1978, the Greenville (S.C.) county school district purchased the telescope from the Navy. With successful fund raising, the Great Refractor once again saw light in 1987. For many years, the telescope was used in manual pointing mode. Later, a homegrown system was used to guide the telescope and dome. In 2018, all new electronics and software were installed using current industrial strength systems. So, Lyman's telescope is alive and well, scanning the skies in a completely modern observatory. The history of this wonderful instrument and a review of the new instrumentation is the subject of this submission.

172.02   Movies on the Early History of KPNO and CTIO

John Glaspey  (NOAO)

We will present video format versions of several movies covering some of the early history of Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO) and Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory (CTIO). The oldest movie is from 1956 by Aden Meinel and documents the first ascent to the summit of Kitt Peak during the site survey. Another, Journey into Light, was produced by AURA in the 1970s and describes astronomy in general, making extensive use of the telescopes and staff of KPNO as examples. These movies have recently been recovered from the plate vault in what is now NOAO headquarters in Tucson and converted to video. Each video has been uploaded to YouTube for viewing via the channel "NOAO Library & Archives". Documentation of the videos are available on the NOAO Library website at

172.003   This Month in Astronomical History: Providing Context for the Advancement of Astronomy

Teresa Wilson  (U.S. Naval Observatory)

This Month in Astronomical History is a short (~500 word) illustrated column hosted on the AAS website ( Its mission is to highlight people and events that have shaped the development of astronomy to convey a historical context to current researchers, to provide a resource for education and public outreach programs seeking to incorporate a historical perspective, and to share the excitement of astronomy with the public. Knowing how the astronomical journey has proceeded thus far allows current professionals to map where to go next and how to get there. The column charts the first part of this journey by celebrating anniversaries of births, discoveries, and deaths, and the technological advances that made discoveries possible. A “Further Reading” section encourages readers to pursue subjects in greater depth and strengthens the articles as classroom resources. The column has evolved over the last year to include works by a number of volunteer authors. This not only adds variety in the writing style, but also allows authors to contribute articles in line with their area of expertise. Topics this year ranged from the life of Benjamin Banneker, to Da Vinci’s discussion of Earthshine, to the mysterious Wow! Signal. Volunteer authors, as well as suggestions for additional topics, are always welcome.


The HAD Mini-banquet

Monday, January 7th, 7:00 – 9:00 pm  (Blueacre Seafood)


HAD V:  The Osterbrock Prize and the Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, 3rd edition

Session #217: Tuesday, January 8th, 10:00 – 11:30 am  (Meeting Rooms 618/619)

Session Chair: Rebecca  Charbonneau


10:00 am   The Osterbrock Prize Lecture

The 2019 Donald E.Osterbrock Prize is awarded to Stella Cottam and Wayne Orchiston for their 2015 publication Eclipses, Transits, and Comets of the Nineteenth Century: How America’s Perception of the Skies Changed. In this session, the authors will describe the making of this magnificent work.


10:45 am  The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers, 3rd edition

The 2017 Osterbrock Prize was awarded to Thomas Hockey (Editor-in-Chief) and the more than 400 contributing authors of the monumental Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers (2nd edition). A third edition is now planned, with Philip Nicholson assuming the mantle of Editor-in-Chief. Phil will lead an informal discussion about this forthcoming work.