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George Wise
Astrophysics and Space Science Library
Civic Astronomy - Albany Dudley Observatory, 1852-2002

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The founding of the Dudley Observatory at Albany, N.Y., in 1852 was a milestone in humanity's age-old quest to understand the heavens. As the best equipped astronomical observatory in the U.S. led by the first American to hold a Ph.D. in astronomy, Benjamin Apthorp Gould Jr., the observatory helped pioneer world-class astronomy in America. It also proclaimed Albany's status as a major national center of culture, knowledge and affluence.

This book explores the story of the Dudley Observatory as a 150 year long episode in civic astronomy. The story ranges from a bitter civic controversy to a venture into space, from the banks of the Hudson River to the highlands of Argentina. It is a unique glimpse at a path not taken, a way of doing science once promising, now vanished. As discoveries by the Dudley Observatory's astronomers, especially its second director Lewis Boss, made significant contributions to the modern vision of our Milky Way galaxy as a rotating spiral of more than a million stars, the advance of astronomy left that little observatory behind.

Table of contents
  • Dedication, Acknowledgements, Seeing From and Being Seen
  • The Dudley Observatory's first 150 years as an expression of scientific aspiration and civic pride offers a new perspective on the evolution of astronomy in the United States, Star War
  • The Dudley Observatory is created with a mission of mapping the stars, then nearly destroyed by a bitter feud carried on by its trustees and its Scientific Council, Time of Troubles
  • As American astronomy matures during the third quarter of the 19th century, the Dudley Observatory falls behind, Disciplined Dreamer
  • A self trained astronomer, Lewis Boss, combines organizational skills and scientific vision to re-energize the Dudley Observatory, Scientific Sweatshop
  • With the aid of the Carnegie Institution, Lewis Boss turns the Dudley Observatory into an efficient workshop for mapping the positions and motions of tens of thousands of stars, Harvest
  • Lewis Boss uses his own star catalog to make significant contributions to stellar astronomy, providing a new rung on the cosmic distance ladder, Consumed by the Catalog
  • In the course of fulfilling its promise to the Carnegie Institution to provide a General Catalog of the positions and the motions of all the stars easily visible from earth, the Dudley Observatory falls asleep as a research institution, Dust Collectors
  • The space age, and another dynamic leader, Curtis Hemenway, re-ignite the Dudley Observatory's research, but then fall victim to a conjunction of scientific and financial problems, Afterlife
  • The Dudley Observatory's 150 year history shows some reasons why civic science, believed in the 1850s to be the best route to world class U.S. science, did not in fact become the way the U.S. emerged as a scientific power
  • References
  • Index


Springer Netherlands, 2004, 216 S.
112,30 Euro
Hardcover
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