Since its founding in 1891, many people have passed through the doors of the Vatican Observatory. A quick perusal of our guestbook reveals several Names, including Popes, Nobel laureates, astronauts, actors, and saints.
For the past few weeks, we have been highlighting visitors who came on the occasion of the first General Assembly of the International Astronomical Union. We have finally reached the last installment related to this event. Today’s visitors came between May 10 and 13, 1922. They are: Sotero Prieto, Joseph Baldwin, Paul Stroobant, Albertus Nijland, Hendrik Jan Heuvelink, and Count de la Baume Pluvinel.
Next to his name, Sotero Prieto Rodriguez (1884-1935) wrote, “(Profesor de Matemáticas – Universidad de Mexico) Tacubaya, Mexique” (Professor of Mathematics, University of Mexico, Tacubaya Mexico)
In 1912, as a professor in the National School of Higher Studies (later the National University of Mexico), he taught the first advanced mathematics course in Mexico. In his tenure as professor, he taught several of Mexico’s most prominent physicists and engineers.
He helped establish the Mathematics Section of the Mexican National Academy of the Sciences in 1932.
Prieto does not appear to have been a registered participant at the IAU meeting.
J. M. Baldwin
Joseph Mason Baldwin FRAS (1878-1945) wrote, “Government Astronomer, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.”
He was director of the Melbourne Observatory from 1915 until 1920, at which time he became a government astronomer in Victoria. (I believe he continued to direct the Melbourne Observatory in this new role, but I haven’t been able to confirm that.) He remained in that post until the observatory closed in 1944.
Baldwin presided over the Royal Society of Victoria from 1925-1926, and presided over Section A of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science from 1930-1931.
His research, severely limited by his administrative duties, involved studies of variable stars.
The Baldwin Rocks, an outcrop on the north side of David Island, are named for him.
Baldwin sat on the IAU finance committee, the commission on the Carte du Ciel, and the commission on variable stars.
Paul Henri Stroobant (1868-1936) visited on May 11, 1922. He wrote, “Prof’r directeur adj. observatoire royal, Uccle – Bruxelles.” (Professor and vice-director of the Royal Observatory of Uccle, Brussels).
He was the son of the Belgian artist François Stroobant.
In 1925, he would become the director of the Royal Observatory of Belgium.
His early career was dominated by attempts to chart the Milky Way.
He also made several contributions to solar system astronomy. He did a statistical analysis of the population of asteroids and their relative sizes in the main belt.
The asteroid 1124 Stroobantia is named for him.
Stroobant was the vice president of the Belgian national committee of the IAU. (Later he would be president.) He also presided over the IAU commission on notation, units, and the economy of publications. He was a member of the IAU commission on the analysis of works and bibliography;, the commission on physical observations of planets; the commission on minor planets; and the commission on the observation of positions and calculation of ephemerides of minor planets, comets, and moons.
A. A. Nijland
Albertus Antoine Nijland (1868-1936) wrote simply, “Utrecht.”
Nijland was director of the Sonnenborgh Observatory of the University of Utrecht.
He studied variable stars and established a naming convention for them based on their constellations.
The lunar crater Nijland bears his name.
Nijland was a member of the IAU commission on the observation of positions and calculation of ephemerides of minor planets, comets, and moons; and the commission on variable stars.
H. J. Heuvelink
Hendrik Jan Heuvelink (1861-1949) wrote, “Delft Ecole Superieure Tecnique” (Technical University of Delft).
He is not to be mistaken with either the notable Dutch architect Hendrik Jan Heuvelink Sr. (1806-1867) or Hendrik Jan Heuvelink Jr. (1833-1901). This Hendrik Jan Heuvelink was the son of the latter.
He was a Dutch surveyor who worked for the Dutch government to implement national surveying and triangulation standards. His work is still relevant in the Netherlands today. He is associated with a method of theodolites in surveying.
He became a professor at the Technical University in 1897.
He was a member of the Dutch commission on the standards of the meter and the kilogram, and of the Dutch National Council for Geodesy and Geophysics.
Heuvelink was not a registered participant at the IAU meeting, but probably was a participant at the IUGG meeting.
Count de la Baume Pluvinel
Count Aymar Eugène de la Baume Pluvinel FRAS (1860-1938) visited on May 13, 1922. Next to his name, he wrote, “26 bis av. Raphaël, Paris.” (As a side note, today this address is the Gabonese embassy to France.)
A French nobleman whose lineage can be traced to the court of King Louis XIII, Count de la Baume Pluvinel was an astronomer with Observatory of Meudon, and later a professor at the École supérieure d’optique.
He made several advances in astrophotography. He was one one of the first to use a silver bromide plate to photograph the transit of Venus in 1882. He also participated in several eclipse expeditions between 1889 and 1932.
He also engaged in solar spectroscopy, pioneering the use of a clock-driven solar spectrograph.
In his spectroscopic studies of comets (for which he pioneered certain techniques) he was the first to observe a spectral signature in Comet Morehouse that was subsequently identified as a signature of CO+.
He invented the lunette coudée, a device for measuring latitude.
De la Baume Pluvinel recorded proceedings of the IAU general assembly and prepared French translations. He presided over the Commission on astronomical expeditions, eclipses, etc. He was a member of the IAU commission on latitude variations, the commission on comets, and the commission on astronomical instruments.