Albert Whitford

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Albert Whitford
Born Albert Edward Whitford
(1905-10-22)October 22, 1905
Milton, Wisconsin, Wisconsin, USA
Died March 28, 2002(2002-03-28) (aged 96)
Madison, Wisconsin, USA
Resting place Milton Cemetery
Milton, Wisconsin
Citizenship US
Nationality American
Fields Astronomy
Astrophysics
Institutions Washburn Observatory
Lick Observatory
Pine Bluff Observatory
Alma mater Milton College
University of Wisconsin
Known for Photoelectric photometry
Influences Joel Stebbins
Notable awards Henry Norris Russell Lectureship (1986)
Bruce Medal (1996)
Spouse Eleanor Bell Whitelaw Whitford
Children William Curtis Whitford
Mary Eleanor Whitford Graves
Martha Neill Whitford Barss

Albert Edward Whitford (October 22, 1905 – March 28, 2002) was an American physicist and astronomer.[1] He served as director of the Mount Wilson Observatory and the Lick Observatory.

Early life[edit]

Whitford was born in Milton, Wisconsin, the son of Alfred and Mary Whitford.[2] He earned his B.A. from Milton College (1926) and his PhD from the University of Wisconsin–Madison (1932).[3]

While studying physics at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, he worked as an assistant to astronomer Joel Stebbins helping him in his study of photoelectric photometry.[4] Whitford developed a device for measuring small currents from photoelectric cells, which allowed them to measure fainter stars.[5] He decided to become an astronomer and spent two years at Caltech and Mount Wilson Observatory as a postdoctoral fellow.[6]

Career[edit]

During World War II, Whitford worked in the MIT Radiation Laboratory.[7][8] In 1948, he succeeded Stebbins as director of the Mount Wilson Observatory and served as director until 1958. He was director of Lick Observatory from 1958-1968,[9] and oversaw the completion of the Shane Telescope in 1959.[10] He served as president of the American Astronomical Society from 1967-1970,[11] and later served on the faculties of both the University of California, Santa Cruz and the University of Wisconsin–Madison.

The Whitford reddening curve, quantifying the interstellar absorption of light, was important in the mapping of the distribution of stars in the Milky Way. He also studied the stars in galactic nuclear bulges.

In 1954, Whitford was elected to the National Academy of Sciences.[12] In 1986, Whitford received the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship[13] and in 1996 he was awarded the Bruce Medal.[14]

Death and legacy[edit]

Whitford died in Madison, Wisconsin, on March 28, 2002, and a memorial service was held in the auditorium of the Meriter Health Center in Madison.[15]

The asteroid 2301 Whitford is named in his honor.[16]

Personal life[edit]

On October 23, 1937,Whitford married Eleanor Bell Whitelaw in Chicago, Illinois. They had three children (William, Mary, and Martha) and nine grandchildren.[17]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Osterbrock, Donald E. (January 2003). "Obituary: Albert Edward Whitford". Physics Today 56 (1): 67–68. Bibcode:2003PhT....56a..67O. doi:10.1063/1.1554147. 
  2. ^ "Albert Edward Whitford". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  3. ^ "Albert E. Whitford Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Emeritus Santa Cruz". The University of California. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Albert Edward Whitford". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  5. ^ "Albert Edward Whitford". The Bruce Medalists. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Albert Edward Whitford". The University of California. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  7. ^ Office of the Home Secretary, National Academy of Sciences (2009). Biographical Memoirs, Volume 90. National Academies Press. p. 26. 
  8. ^ "Our Fitchett, Harbison, Nix, Wescott and Related Families". Ancestry.com. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  9. ^ International Astronomical Union (London). Transactions of the International Astronomical Union. CUP Archive. p. 773. 
  10. ^ "Shane Telescope". University of Wisconsin-Madison. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  11. ^ "Albert E. Whitford Professor of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Emeritusl". The University of California. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  12. ^ National Academy of Sciences (U.S.) (1958). Annual Report - National Academy of Sciences. National Academy of Sciences (U.S.). 
  13. ^ "Henry Norris Russell Lectureship". American Astronomical Society. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Albert Edward Whitford". The Bruce Medalists. Retrieved January 25, 2014. 
  15. ^ "Albert Edward Whitford". University of Southern California. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 
  16. ^ Schmadel, Lutz D. (2012). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names. Springer. 
  17. ^ "Albert Edward Whitford". 2014 Ancestry.com. Retrieved 24 January 2014. 

Further reading[edit]

  • "Big Science: The Growth of Large-scale Research" by Peter Galison, published by Stanford University Press, 1992.

External links[edit]