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Light Curves and the Theory of Eclipsing Binaries. Robert Talley

Another student, Robert Talley, arrived on the graduate astronomy scene about 1955. He had been a K.U. astronomy major, and of course we knew him quite well. His scholastic record was unusually good. For his M.A. thesis he wanted to investigate the theory of the light curves of eclipsing binary stars. This was a pretty tall order, because this subject is so very involved, and neither Storer nor I were specialists in it; I suggested that he start reading one of the few available technical books on the subject, and he found so many mistakes in it that he ended up writing a 150 page monograph for his M.A. thesis!

I had also received an NSF (National Science Foundation) grant, under which he helped design the optics of our photoelectric photometer, where we carried out the necessary ray tracing by vector methods. Furthermore, at that time there was renewed interest by several astronomers to measure the phase curve of the planet Uranus, and inasmuch as the phase angle could only vary from 0 to 3 deg. (as viewed from earth) they wondered how much variation in magnitude could be expected. Talley carried out the necessary calculations, and we published a note about it in the Ap.J. (123, 176, 1956). The computed change in 3-deg only amounted to 0.0019 mag.

After receiving his M.A.(1956) he entered the navy where he spent about six years in guided missile operations, including one and a half years aboard the USS Gyatt. Leaving the navy he became a senior research physicist for various private companies and organizations (for example, Cornell Aeronautical Laboratory/CALSPAN, Pelorex Corp., Falcon Research, Veritay Tech.) investigating problems in atmospheric science (such as the electrification of droplets and their mutual interaction in clouds), bioaerosols, samplers for viruses, ordnance, chemical warfare, guns, armor, liquid propellants, etc. He presently does private consulting work, and lives in East Aurora, NY, with his wife Ann (they have four adult sons).


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