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Session 28 - HAD II: Modern Astronomical History.
Oral session, Wednesday, January 07

[28.03] Now We Are Ten: The AAS Tenth, Decennial Meetingat Yerkes Observatory in August 1909

D. E. Osterbrock (UCO/LO/UCSC)

The tenth meeting of the Astronomical and Astrophysical Society of America (later to become the AAS), held in August 1909, was also its tenth-anniversary (or decennial) meeting. Fifty-three members were present, as contrasted with the 1400 expected for the 194th, Centennial meeting to be held in Chicago in May-June 1999, and forty-one papers were presented, rather than the 1000 predicted for next year. Other similarities and differences between meetings then and now will be described and illustrated.

Simon Newcomb, the first AAS President, had died in July 1909, and Edward C. Pickering, who had succeeded him in 1905 and was to remain President until 1919, eulogized him at the Yerkes meeting. Two Committees, on Luminous Meteors and on Comets, respectively, presented their reports, the latter's dealing mostly with plans for Comet Halley at its 1910 apparition. A high-level Special Committee issued a statement decrying a newspaper furor over establishing communication with Mars, which they said was then ``outside the range of contemporary science."

Six of the members present at the 1909 meeting were women. Joel Stebbins, later to be Councilor, Secretary, Vice President and President, presented his first AAS paper, on his new selenium (photo-resistive) photometry. Frank Schlesinger, another future Society President, was also present and read an instrument-design paper. Ten of the papers were given by Yerkes and University of Chicago astronomers, including three by E. E. Barnard and two by Kurt Laves. Another six papers from distant Lick Observatory members were read in absentia. S. W. Burnham, who was at the Yerkes meeting, was the one famous astronomer who never joined the Society. Finally, the Council authorized publication of a Decennial Book, to provide a record of the first ten years of the young Society.

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