Stewart Sharpless

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Stewart Sharpless (March 29, 1926 - January 19, 2013)[1][2] was an American astronomer who carried out fundamental work on the structure of the Milky Way galaxy.

As a graduate student at Yerkes Observatory he worked under William Morgan with fellow graduate student Don Osterbrock.[3] In 1952, they published their observations that demonstrated the spiral structure of the Milky Way by estimating the distances to H II regions and young hot stars. For a while Sharpless was at Mount Wilson Observatory where he worked on galaxy photography with Walter Baade and Edwin Hubble.[4]

In 1953 Sharpless joined the staff of the United States Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station.[4] Here he surveyed and cataloged H II regions of the Milky Way Galaxy using the images from the Palomar Sky Survey. From this work Sharpless published his catalog of H II regions in two editions, the first in 1953 with 142 nebula.[5] The second and final edition was published in 1959 with 313 nebulae[6] (see Sharpless catalog).

Stewart Sharpless was before his death a retired Professor Emeritus in the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Rochester.


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