Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: June 2011

3 - The amateur's amateur

from PART II - THE FOUNDING OF THE AAVSO – THE WILLIAM TYLER OLCOTT ERA

Summary

There is an effort being made to organize a Variable Star section in this Country. Prof. Pickering of the Harvard College Observatory favors the plan.

– William Tyler Olcott, letter to Harriet W. Bigelow, Professor of Astronomy, Smith College, October 4, 1911

William Tyler Olcott's resignation as the leader of the Variable Star Section of the Society for Practical Astronomy in 1913 coincided with his efforts to form another variable star organization.

In the previous 2 years, Olcott had formed the American Association of Variable Star Observers (AAVSO), officially begun on October 10, 1911. Its existence inadvertently demolished the SPA's variable star section, whose members had left to join the AAVSO. Their migration may not have had anything to do with actions of the SPA's teenaged founders. What can be said, however, is that they remained with Olcott and the AAVSO after a year or more in correspondence with Olcott and recognition that Olcott and his AAVSO were connected in some way to the Harvard College Observatory (HCO).

This man of letters and science seemed ideally cast as the founder of a new organization. Even more so, he always seemed to have sufficient time and wherewithal to travel and support an international organization. This chapter follows Olcott's life leading up to his founding of the AAVSO and how he came to a privileged position.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO