Frank Washington Very

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Frank Washington Very
Born(1852-02-12)February 12, 1852
DiedNovember 23, 1927(1927-11-23) (aged 75)
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology
Spouse(s)Portia Mary Vickers
Scientific career
FieldsAstronomy, Astrophysics, Meteorology
InstitutionsMassachusetts Institute of Technology, Western University of Pennsylvania, Brown University, Westwood Astrophysical Observatory
PatronsPercival Lowell

Frank Washington Very (February 12, 1852 – November 23, 1927)[1] was a U.S. astronomer, astrophysicist, and meteorologist.[2] He was born at Salem, Massachusetts, and educated at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1873) where he taught physics after his graduation.[2]

He worked at the Allegheny Observatory from 1878 until 1895.[3] In 1890 he became a professor and chair of astronomy at Western University of Pittsburgh.[2] He then was professor and acting director of the Ladd Observatory at Brown University from 1896 to 1897.[4] He worked as an independent researcher[4] until 1906 when he was appointed director of the Westwood Astrophysical Observatory.[1]

His most important work was in measuring the temperature of the surfaces of the Moon and other planets using a bolometer. Samuel Pierpont Langley published in 1890 a widely read paper on the Moon observations, but for unknown reasons omitted Very's name from the list of authors. In 1891, Very published his own paper about the "Distribution of the Moon's Heat," which also included measurements taken during a lunar eclipse.

Infrared observations by Langley and Very, published in 1890, were used to make the first calculations of the greenhouse effect.[5]

Very crater on Mars[6] and Very crater on the Moon[7] are named in his honor.

Published works[edit]

  • Langley, S.P.; Very, F.W. (1889). The temperature of the moon. (From studies at the allegheny observatory.). Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences. IV. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office. Retrieved 2 December 2019.


  1. ^ a b "PROF FRANK W. VERY, ASTRONOMER, DEAD: One of America's Leading Authorities". Boston Daily Globe. November 24, 1927.
  2. ^ a b c Ogden, J. Gordon (August–September 1928). "Frank W. Very". Popular Astronomy. 36 (7): 391–397. Bibcode:1928PA.....36..391O.CS1 maint: date format (link)
  3. ^ "Prof. Frank W. Very, Astronomy Writer, Dies in Cambridge". New York Herald Tribune. November 24, 1927.
  4. ^ a b Mitchell, Martha (1993). "Astronomy". Encyclopedia Brunoniana. Providence, RI: Brown University Library. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  5. ^ "Samuel Pierpont Langley". Department of Physics and Astronomy. University of Pittsburgh. November 27, 2019. Retrieved March 23, 2019. His publication in 1890 of infrared observations at the Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh together with Frank Washington Very was used by Svante Arrhenius to make the first calculations on the greenhouse effect.
  6. ^ "Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature | Very on Mars". International Astronomical Union. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  7. ^ "Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature | Very on Moon". International Astronomical Union. Retrieved March 23, 2019.

External links[edit]