Scientific American Supplement, No. 601, July 9, 1887 eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 127 pages of information about Scientific American Supplement, No. 601, July 9, 1887.

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First Annual Report.

Dr. Henry Draper, in 1872, was the first to photograph the lines of a stellar spectrum.  His investigation, pursued for many years with great skill and ingenuity, was most unfortunately interrupted in 1882 by his death.

The recent advances in dry-plate photography have vastly increased our powers of dealing with this subject.  Early in 1886, accordingly, Mrs. Draper made a liberal provision for carrying on this investigation at the Harvard College Observatory, as a memorial to her husband.  The results attained are described below, and show that an opportunity is open for a very important and extensive investigation in this branch of astronomical physics.  Mrs. Draper has accordingly decided greatly to extend the original plan of work, and to have it conducted on a scale suited to its importance.  The attempt will be made to include all portions of the subject, so that the final results shall form a complete discussion of the constitution and conditions of the stars, as revealed by their spectra, so far as present scientific methods permit.  It is hoped that a greater advance will thus be made than if the subject was divided among several institutions, or than if a broader range of astronomical study was attempted.

It is expected that a station to be established in the southern hemisphere will permit the work to be extended so that a similar method of study may be applied to stars in all parts of the sky.  The investigations already undertaken, and described below more in detail, include a catalogue of the spectra of all stars north of—­24 deg. of the sixth magnitude and brighter, a more extensive catalogue of spectra of stars brighter than the eighth magnitude, and a detailed study of the spectra of the bright stars.

This last will include a classification of the spectra, a determination of the wave lengths of the lines, a comparison with terrestrial spectra, and an application of the results to the measurement of the approach and recession of the stars.  A special photographic investigation will also be undertaken of the spectra of the banded stars, and of the ends of the spectra of the bright stars.

The instruments employed are an eight inch Voigtlander photographic lens, reground by Alvan Clark & Sons, and Dr. Draper’s 11 inch photographic lens, for which Mrs. Draper has provided a new mounting and observatory.  The 15 inch refractor belonging to the Harvard College Observatory has also been employed in various experiments with a slit spectroscope, and is again being used as described below.  Mrs. Draper has decided to send to Cambridge a 28 inch reflector and its mountings, and a 15 inch mirror, which is one of the most perfect reflectors constructed by Dr. Draper, and with which his photograph of the moon was taken.  The first two instruments mentioned above have been kept at work during the first part of every clear night for several months.  It is now intended that at least three telescopes shall be used during the whole night, until the work is interrupted by daylight.

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Scientific American Supplement, No. 601, July 9, 1887 from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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