Sarah Lee Lippincott

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Sarah Lee Lippincott
Born (1920-10-26) October 26, 1920 (age 96)[1]
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Residence Kennett Square, Pennsylvania, United States
Fields astronomy
Institutions Swarthmore College Sproul Observatory
Known for binary stars
Influences Peter van de Kamp

Sarah Lee Lippincott (born October 26, 1920[2]) also known as Sarah Lee Lippincott Zimmerman is an American astronomer. She is Professor Emerita of Astronomy at Swarthmore College and Director Emerita of the college's Sproul Observatory. [3] She is a pioneer in the use of astrometry to determine the character of binary stars and search for extrasolar planets.


Lippincott received a B.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1941 and an M.A. from Swarthmore College in 1942.


Sarah Lippencott was born in 1920 and attended college at the University of Pennsylvania College for Women in the 1940s where she played on the women's basketball team.[4]

After graduation from the University of Pennsylvania Sarah Lippencott attended Swarthmore college where she worked closely with Peter van de Kamp on many astrometry projects between 1945 and his retirement in 1972. She wrote his obituary when he died in 1995.[5] She became observatory director after Peter van de Kamp retired in 1972.

She was the third wife of the late Dave Garroway, the founding host of NBC's Today show. Garroway had an active interest in astronomy and they met on a tour of observatories in the Soviet Union that she was hosting.[6] After Garroway's death by suicide at their home in 1982 she helped establish the Dave Garroway Laboratory for the Study of Depression at the University of Pennsylvania.[7]

She conducted numerous astrometric studies of nearby stars with van de Kamp in the search for extrasolar planets. She reported the discovery of several objects of sub-stellar mass and proposed a 0.01 solar-mass planetary companion to the star Lalande 21185 in 1951. The same proposal of planetary objects was made for a number of other stars as well.[8] Claims for the smaller planetary objects were never confirmed and gradually have become discredited. However, she was quite successful in using the same techniques for characterizing many binary star systems. Her 1951 calculations of the orbit of the difficult astronomical binary star system Ross 614 were used to successfully find and image the system's secondary star.[9] These calculations were used by Walter Baade to find and optically resolve this binary system for the first time using the then new 5 m (200 in) Hale Telescope at the Palomar Observatory in California.[10]

She is listed as Professor Emerita of Astronomy and Director Emerita of the Sproul Observatory in the 2010 Swarthmore college catalog. She last published astronomy research papers in 1983. In 2009 she attended the dedication ceremony for the new Peter van de Kamp observatory at Swarthmore College.[11]

Honors and awards[edit]

In 1966 she received the Kappa Kappa Gamma Alumnae Achievement Award.[12]

In 1973 she was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Science by Villanova University.[2][13]

In 1976 she was elected to the Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania (as Mrs. Christian Zimmerman).[14]

Sample Publications[edit]


Lippincott authored two books, with coauthors:


Lippincott published over one hundred papers in her career. These are two typical examples:


  1. ^ Who's who in Frontier Science and Technology. 1. Marquis Who's Who, 1984. 1984. p. 447. 
  2. ^ a b "Swarthmore College Archives, Astronomy Department Records, 1899-1986". Retrieved 2009-06-03. 
  3. ^ "Swarthmore College Faculty and Other Instructional Staff". Retrieved 2009-01-29. 
  4. ^ Yearbook of the College for Women, 1940, University of Pennsylvania
  5. ^ Lippincott, Sarah Lee (December 1995). "Obituary: Peter van de Kamp, 1901-1995". Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society. 27 (4): 1483–1484. Bibcode:1995BAAS...27.1483L. 
  6. ^ "Garroway, first 'Today' host, is dead". St. Petersburg Times. July 22, 1982. Retrieved 2009-06-03. [dead link]
  7. ^ Lee Lawrence Papers, University of Maryland Libraries, hdl:1903.1/1488 
  8. ^ van de Kamp, P. & Lippincott, S. L (April 1951). "Astrometric study of Lalande 21185". The Astronomical Journal. 56: 49–50. Bibcode:1951AJ.....56...49V. doi:10.1086/106503. 
  9. ^ Lippincott, S. L. (February 1951). "Parallax and orbit analysis of Ross 614". The Astronomical Journal. 55: 236–242. Bibcode:1951AJ.....55..236L. doi:10.1086/106471. 
  10. ^ George Gatewood; et al. (2003). "An Astrometric Study of the Low-Mass Binary Star Ross 614" (PDF). The Astronomical Journal. 125 (3): 1530–1536. Bibcode:2003AJ....125.1530G. doi:10.1086/346143. 
  11. ^ Jeffrey Lott (July 2009). "New Peter van de Kamp Observatory Dedicated". Swarthmore College Bulletin. Retrieved 2009-12-12. 
  12. ^ Kappa Kappa Gamma Alumnae Achievement Award Recipients, 1966, Sarah Lee Lippincott
  13. ^ "S. I. Lippincott received the honorary D.Sc. degree by Villanova University in Pennsylvania". Mercury. 2 (3): 15. 1973. Bibcode:1973Mercu...2R..15.  External link in |journal= (help)
  14. ^ "Distinguished Daughters of Pennsylvania" (PDF). Retrieved 2009-06-03. 

External links[edit]