AAS 195th Meeting, January 2000
Session 23. Ground-Based Optical/IR Interferometry
Special Session Oral, Wednesday, January 12, 2000, 10:00-11:30am, Centennial IV

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[23.01] A History of Stellar Interferometry: from 1868 to the present

P.R. Lawson (Jet Propulsion Laboratory)

The development of stellar interferometry is traced from the 19th century through to the present day. H. Fizeau first suggested using interferometry to study stars in 1868. Thereafter followed a period of initial experiments and observations by numerous researchers, culminating in 1920 in the measurement of the diameter of Betelguese by A.A. Michelson and F.G. Pease. Although Pease attempted to surpass this work with a more ambitious stellar interferometer, the work proved difficult and yielded data on only a small number of stars. After his death in 1938 the field lay dormant until the development of intensity interferometry by R. Hanbury Brown and R.Q. Twiss in the 1950s. Interest in optical interferometry was rekindled in the 1960s with the success of the Intensity Interferometer. Direct detection interferometry with separated telescopes was shown to be feasible at visible and infrared wavelengths in the 1970s by A. Labeyrie, C.H. Townes, and others. Since that time the field has undergone a rapid period of expansion, including the ongoing development of large ground-based optical/IR arrays, and the prospect of launching stellar interferometers into space in the first decade of the 21st Century.

The author(s) of this abstract have provided an email address for comments about the abstract: lawson@huey.jpl.nasa.gov

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