Walter Sydney Adams
|Walter Sydney Adams|
Walter Sydney Adams
December 20, 1876|
|Died||May 11, 1956
Pasadena, California, U.S.
|Institutions||Mount Wilson Observatory|
|Alma mater||Dartmouth College|
|Notable awards||Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1917)
Henry Draper Medal (1918)
Bruce Medal (1928)
Walter Sydney Adams (December 20, 1876 – May 11, 1956) was an American astronomer.
Life and work
He was born in Antioch, Syria to Lucien Harper Adams and Nancy Dorrance Francis Adams, missionary parents, and was brought to the U.S. in 1885 He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1898, then continued his education in Germany. After returning to the U.S., he began a career in Astronomy that culminated when he became director of the Mount Wilson Observatory.
His primary interest was the study of stellar spectra. He worked on solar spectroscopy and co-discovered a relationship between the relative intensities of certain spectral lines and the absolute magnitude of a star. He was able to demonstrate that spectra could be used to determine whether a star was a giant or a dwarf. In 1915 he began a study of the companion of Sirius and found that despite a size only slightly larger than the Earth, the surface of the star was brighter per unit area than the Sun and it was about as massive. Such a star later came to be known as a white dwarf. Along with Theodore Dunham, he discovered the strong presence of carbon dioxide in the infrared spectrum of Venus.
Adams died at the age of 79 in Pasadena, California.
Awards and honors
- Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1917)
- Henry Draper Medal from the National Academy of Sciences (1918)
- Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (1922
- Bruce Medal (1928)
- Henry Norris Russell Lectureship (1947)
Named after him
- The asteroid 3145 Walter Adams.
- A crater on Mars.
- The crater Adams on the Moon is jointly named after him, John Couch Adams and Charles Hitchcock Adams.
- F.J.M. Stratton. "Walter Sydney Adams. 1876-1956." Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, Vol. 2. (Nov., 1956), pp. 1-18.
- "Henry Draper Medal". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
- "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A". American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
- Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology, Isaac Asimov, Doubleday & Co., Inc., 1972, ISBN 0-385-17771-2.
- F. Wesemael, A comment on Adams' measurement of the gravitational redshift of Sirius B Royal Astronomical Society, Quarterly Journal (ISSN 0035-8738), 26, Sept. 1985, 273-278
- Bruce Medal page
- Awarding of Bruce Medal
- Awarding of RAS gold medal
- National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir
- Wright, Helen (1970). "Adams, Walter Sydney". Dictionary of Scientific Biography 1. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 54–58. ISBN 0-684-10114-9.