Home » Harlow Shapley: Biography of an Astronomer: The Man Who Measured the Universe by Doug West
Harlow Shapley: Biography of an Astronomer: The Man Who Measured the Universe Doug West

Harlow Shapley: Biography of an Astronomer: The Man Who Measured the Universe

Doug West

Published May 27th 2015
ISBN :
ebook
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 About the Book 

Harlow Shapley was an astronomer, humanitarian, and public figure in his day. Born in the hills of the Ozarks in Missouri he went on to become the Director of the Harvard College Observatory and discovered our place in the Galaxy. Because of theMoreHarlow Shapley was an astronomer, humanitarian, and public figure in his day. Born in the hills of the Ozarks in Missouri he went on to become the Director of the Harvard College Observatory and discovered our place in the Galaxy. Because of the painstaking work of this tireless American astronomer, we were given a clearer picture of our place in the Universe.Shapley was a prodigious astronomer who completed significant work on globular clusters, Cepheid variables, as well as key aspects of cosmology and stellar astronomy, including nebular and stellar spectroscopy and photometry. Shapley also did important work on the Magellanic Clouds, which are neighbor galaxies to our own Milky Way. He made the deduction that the Sun is located at the central plane of the Galaxy on a minor arm of the Milky Way about 30,000 light years from the galactic center. This was in direct conflict with the prevailing view of the galaxy and cause quite a stir in the astronomical community.At the peak of his career as an astronomer, he worked at the Mt. Wilson Observatory, and afterward served at the helm of the Harvard College Observatory, eventually transforming it into an important training and observational facility. Shapley was to lead the development of the Harvard Astronomy program which produced many prominent astronomers.Shapley’s work on international issues in astronomy lead him to multiple visits to Russia. This was at the early stages of the Cold War between the United States and Russia. Harlow Shapley had caught the eye of the FBI and the famed communist hunter Joseph McCarthy and he was investigated by the committee of “Un-American” activities. Shapley was later cleared of any wrong doing but it almost cost him the directorship of the Harvard College Observatory.Shapley was a prodigious writer, with over a dozen books to his credit, numerous scientific papers, and many articles written for the general public so they could understand and appreciate the wonders of the Universe. His book “Of Stars and Men” was a best-seller translated into eight languages and eventually became a film documentary.Harlow Shapley also was a humanitarian. In the late 1930s he was appalled at the treatment of Jewish scientists and scholars in Hitler’s Germany. He headed a nationwide effort to bring refuges from Germany to the United States and was personally involved in the resettlement of at least 1000 refugee families.Let the biographer, Doug West, take you on a journey into the life and times of this important man. The biography is written in a clear and concise manner for the non-scientist