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. Today’s visitors all came between May 7-10, 1922. They are Azeglio Bemporad, Bartolo Viaro, Herbert H. Turner, Henry Norris Russell, Hector Philippot, and Henri Vanderlinden.
Azeglio Bemporad (1875-1945) visited on May 7. Next to his name, he wrote, “Napoli Dirett. Osservatorio Capodimonte” (Naples, Director of the Observatory of Capodimonte).
(Bemporad had also visited the Vatican Observatory on March 21, 1908, when he worked at the observatory of Catania. Unfortunately, I failed to produce a “Specola Guestbook” column on the occasion of that visit.)
He was director of the observatory at Capodimonte from 1912-1934, then became director of the observatory at Catania until he was fired for being a Jew in 1938. (Mussolini had enacted antisemitic laws.) He was reinstated in 1943, but did not return to work.
In his scientific career, he worked in several fields of astronomy. Much of his work involved the Carte du Ciel program, which he engaged both in Catania and Capodimonte. He also did solar physics, planetary observations, stellar photometry, and meteorology.
He produced a table of trigonometrical logarithms for calculating time, which was widely used.
Bemporad served on the IAU committee on solar radiation, the committee on solar physics, the Carte du Ciel committee, the committee on stellar photometry, and the committee on variable stars.
Bortolo Viaro (1870-1922) also visited on May 7. He wrote, “Padova Astronomo” (Astronomer of Padua).
Just after IAU, he would become director of the Catania Observatory. There he would remain for only one month before contracting a fatal case of malaria in July 1922.
His research involved determining orbits of asteroids and cataloguing stellar positions.
Viaro served on the IAU committee on meridian astronomy and the committee on ephemerides of small bodies.
Herbert H. Turner
Herbert Hall Turner FRS (1861-1930) made his visit on May 9. He wrote, “Oxford Astronomer”
This was not his first visit to the Specola. He had made at least two visits prior. I wrote a Specola Guestbook column about Turner on the occasion of his visit on January 15, 1909.
As a reminder, he discovered deep-focus earthquakes and coined the term, “parsec.”
He served the IAU as president of the lunar nomenclature committee and the Carte du Ciel committee, and he was a member of the committee stellar photometry, the committee on variable stars, and the committee on notation, units, and the economy of publications.
NOTE ON MAY 10
Almost all of the remaining visitors associated with the IAU meeting made their visit on May 10, 1922. This would have been the day of an organized outing to visit the observatory. Not only the notable astronomers of the IAU were present, but also spouses and guests. The visits on previous days probably were arranged individually.
Henry Norris Russell
Henry Norris Russell FRAS FMRS HFRSE (1877-1957) wrote, “Princeton, New Jersey, U.S.A.”
Russell was director of the Princeton University Observatory from 1912-1947.
I mentioned Russell a few weeks ago in the context of another IAU attendee, Ejnar Hertzsprung. The two are credited with the Hertzsprung-Russell diagram that plots stars according to their spectral type or temperature and their luminosity (see diagram below).
Russell and Heinrich Vogt independently proposed the hypothesis that the structure and evolution of a star is dependent only on its mass and the chemical distribution within its interior. This has been referred to as the Vogt-Russell theorem.
One other scientific contribution that bears his name is Russell-Saunders coupling (for which he also shares credit with Frederick Saunders). The two collaborated in 1923 to develop this description of the coupling of electron quantum spin states and orbital angular momenta.
The asteroid 1762 Russell is named in his honor. His work earned him the Lalande Prize, the Henry Draper Medal, the Bruce Medal, the Rumford Prize, the Franklin Medal, and the Janssen Medal.
Russell served the IAU on the committee on variable stars, the committee on spectral classification of stars, and the committee on stellar parallax.
Hector Philippot (1872-1925) wrote, “Uccle (Belgique)” (Uccle, Belgium).
He was a chief astronomer at the University of Liege, where he spent his career specializing in meridian astronomy and the measurement of time.
He was a knight of the Order of Leopold in Belgium.
Philippot served the IAU on the committee on meridian astronomy and the committee on time.
Henri Louis Vanderlinden (1892-1983) wrote, “Uccle (Belgique)” (Uccle, Belgium).
He was an assistant astronomer at the Royal Observatory of Uccle. In 1925 he would take a post at the University of Ghent, where he would become a professor.
His research focused primarily on orbital dynamics and photometry.
He served a term as president of the Belgian National Committee of Astronomy.
Vanderlinden was present at the IAU meeting as a representative of Belgium, but does not appear to have served on any committee. After 1925, he served on the commissions on stellar photometry, stellar clusters, and stellar populations.
Next Week: Carlo Somigliana, Luigi Volta, Francesco Vercelli, Antoine Lacroix, Louis Bauer, Benjamin Baillaud, and Georges Perrier.