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Session 28 - HAD III - Astronomical Journal Sesquicentennial.
Division, Oral session, Monday, June 08

[28.03] Benjamin Apthorp Gould and the Founding of The Astronomical Journal

O. Gingerich (Harvard-Smithsonian CfA)

The origin and vicissitudes of The Astronomical Journal\/ are inextricably bound up with the extraordinary career of Benjamin Apthorp Gould (1824-1896), the first American to obtain a PhD in astronomy (at Göttingen). Returning to Cambridge in 1848, Gould joined an informal group known as the Lazzaroni, who were determined to bring professional standards to American science. Gould devoted much of his life to professionalizing American astronomy, and his founding of the AJ\/ was part of this strategy. Beginning on 2 November 1849, Gould's AJ\/ was issued at irregular intervals, seldom shorter than two weeks and occasionally much longer, such as the two-month gap in 1851 when Gould had gone to the solar eclipse in Europe. About 20% of the space was devoted to asteroids, then the hot topic in astronomy. The 11th issue announced the discovery of the 11th asteroid; by March of 1853, 23 asteroids were known, and Gould editorialized about the "threatened consumption of astronomical energies." In 1856 the trustees of the newly-founded Dudley Observatory agreed to support the financially struggling AJ\/, and volume 5 (1856-58) bore the Albany dateline though printing continued in Cambridge. Gould's ill-fated directorship of the Dudley Observatory lasted only a year in Albany itself, and volume 6 was again edited in Cambridge. The Civil War then brought a 25-year hiatus to Gould's journal. In 1870 Gould went to Argentina, where he founded the Argentine National Observatory in Cordoba; he returned to Cambridge in 1885, and very shortly thereafter resumed publication of the AJ\/ (in November, 1886). He continued his editorship for a decade, producing volumes 7-16; his last issue, vol. 17, no. 4, is dated just two weeks before his death. As his successor, Seth Chandler wrote, "Of all the great enterprises of his life, this is the one which he has most cherished."

Program listing for Monday