Pauper and Prince: Ritchey, Hale, and Big American Telescopes

Pauper and Prince: Ritchey, Hale, and Big American Telescopes

by Donald E. Osterbrock
     
 

George Willis Ritchey was the builder of the first large, successful American reflecting telescopes. A telescope designer who perfected the methods for making astronomical mirrors and a master of celestial photography, Ritchey worked closely with George Ellery Hale, the phenomenal fund-raiser and organizer of observatories. Mount Wilson Observatory stands today as a… See more details below

Overview

George Willis Ritchey was the builder of the first large, successful American reflecting telescopes. A telescope designer who perfected the methods for making astronomical mirrors and a master of celestial photography, Ritchey worked closely with George Ellery Hale, the phenomenal fund-raiser and organizer of observatories. Mount Wilson Observatory stands today as a monument to their collaboration, yet their very success led to tension, estrangement, and finally to Ritchey's dismissal and banishment by Hale. Scientists and historians today know of Ritchey only through the reports of Hale and Walter S. Adams, Hales's successor as director at Mount Wilson. We associate Ritchey with the Ritchey-Chretien system, used in almost all large reflecting telescopes today, with the 60-inch Mount Wilson telescope, and with the 100-inch Mount Wilson mirror, but we know little about his life and career. Yet today's large telescopes have demonstrated the validity of many of Ritchey's predictions, which seemed fantastic to most of the astronomers of his day. Astronomical historian Donald Osterbrock now tells Ritchey's story, tracing his career and revealing its complex interrelationships with Hale's. Drawing on letters preserved in astronomical archives and on interviews with individuals who knew Ritchey personally, Osterbrock's book reveals the impact of human pride, ambition, and character on the development of scientific knowledge and technology. It also treats the telescope-building aspects of Hale's life at Yerkes, Mount Wilson, and Palomar observatories, and shows how the relationship among these men helped the United States take the lead in developing major astronomical facilities.

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Tells of the career and complex personality of George Willis Ritchey, the builder of the first large, successful American reflecting telescopes, and his relationship with George Ellery Hale, the influential fundraiser and organizer of observatories. The two had a profound impact on US development of major astronomical facilities. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780816511990
Publisher:
University of Arizona Press
Publication date:
05/28/1993
Pages:
350
Product dimensions:
6.57(w) x 9.63(h) x 1.47(d)

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