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Computation of Spectroscopic Binary Elements. Robert Wolfe

Robert H. Wolfe, Jr. was not only a first rate theoretician, but he learned to use the computer to great effect. He wrote his M.A. thesis entitled The Machine Computation of Spectroscopic Binary Elements, and a concise version of this was published in the book Modern Astrophysics (A memorial to Otto Struve), Gauthier-Villars, Paris, 1967. The method is that of Wilsing-Russell followed by a differential correction, but modified to apply to high as well as low eccentricities. The late Otto Struve would have been amazed at the ability of this program to solve his binary-star orbit problems! The book article gives the mathematical theory, followed by the program written in FORTRAN and finally a calculation example; unfortunately the printer of the book typeset the program instead of using a photographic process, so that some errors occurred, the most serious being due to the confusion of the number 0 with the letter O (I had inherited the proof-reading when Bob left K.U. to go to U.C.L.A., and it had suddenly become a very hard task--he owes me some Brownie points).

I haven't been able to find Wolfe's address even though I've scanned the internet via several search engines; as I recall, he left U.C.L.A. after about four years, and transferred to the University of Houston where he got his Ph.D. The last that I heard about him he had inadvertently walked, or run, through a French door and injured himself rather severely. Rumor has it that his degree was in astronautics, and that he fully recovered from his French door incident.

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