AAS 205th Meeting, 9-13 January 2005
Session 1 HAD I: Centennial Celebration of the Founding of Mount Wilson Observatory
Special Session, Sunday, January 9, 2005, 2:00-5:00pm, Sunrise

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[1.03] The Mount Wilson-University of California Connection from Hussey and Seares to Mayall and Olin Wilson

D. E. Osterbrock (UCO/Lick Obs., UCSC)

George Ellery Hale, who founded Mount Wilson Solar Observatory, first visited Lick Observatory in 1890, soon after his graduation from MIT. After his parents' deaths, when he began openly planning a Yerkes Observatory ``expedition" to California, Hale's friend James E. Keeler, then Lick Observatory Director, invited him (in 1899) to locate it on Mt.Hamilton. Hale thanked him, but replied that sites further south would have more clear weather. He had probably already decided on Mount Wilson. There were many close connections between the University of California and Mount Wilson Observatory from that time right up to the present.

W.J. Hussey was the Lick astronomer who carried out the official site survey that confirmed Mount Wilson as the best site. Harold Palmer (UC Astronomy PhD 1903) was the first new staff member Hale hired, but he only lasted a few months.

The two main reasons for the continuing connection were the geographical proximity of Pasadena and the Bay Area, and the fact that for many years UC was the outstanding graduate astronomy department in the country, producing numerous well trained observational research astronomers. However in the early years the reasons were more complicated. After Palmer, the next three hired at MWO were Arthur King, the first UC Physics PhD (1903); Harold Babcock, (UC Engineering BS 1907); and F.H. Seares (UC Astronomy BS 1895). Harold Babcock trained his son in astronomy almost from birth, and Horace (UC Astronomy PhD 1938) joined the MWO staff after World War II and became its Director in 1964. Palmer and Edward Fath (UC PhD 1909) were less successful at MWO and soon departed. These and numerous other MWO astronomers with UC backgrounds will be mentioned, and their careers discussed.

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Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, 36 5
© 2004. The American Astronomical Society.