AAS 201st Meeting, January, 2003
Session 1. HAD I: Special Topics in the History of Astronomy
Special, Sunday, January 5, 2003, 2:00-6:00pm, East Room (Sheraton)

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[1.03] Donald Menzel: His Founding and Funding of Solar Observatories.

B. L. Welther (H-S CfA)

In January 1961 Donald Menzel wrote to his cousin, M. H. Bruckman, "I am proudest of the observatories that I have built in the West." The first of those facilities, a solar observatory, was founded in 1940 in Colorado and later came to be known as the High Altitude Observatory. The second one, also a solar observatory, was founded a dozen years later at Sacramento Peak in New Mexico. The third facility, however, established at Fort Davis, Texas, was the Harvard Radio Astronomy Observatory.

Although Menzel was primarily a theoretical astrophysicist, renowned for his studies of the solar chromosphere, he was also an entrepreneur who had a talent for developing observatories and coping with numerous setbacks in funding and staffing. Where many others would have failed, Menzel succeeded in mentoring colleagues and finding sources of financial support. This paper will draw primarily on letters and other materials in the Harvard University Archives.

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© 2002. The American Astronomical Soceity.