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The Ross Spectrograph Capabilities: Edwin Barker

Edwin Barker completed his undergraduate astronomy in 1962 at New Mexico State University, Las Cruces, NM., and then came to K.U. where he entered our master's program. Dr. Storer was his thesis adviser. Sometimes in my cynical moments, it would seem that the awkward telescope mounting of the Pitt telescope made our whole system a `white elephant;' then we would get a student like Ed Barker who certainly knew his way around a telescope, and would be especially helpful in coping with the instrumental difficulties. His M.A. thesis, completed in 1964, concerned the capabilities of the Ross spectrograph of the William Pitt 27-inch telescope.

He then went to the University of Texas and obtained his doctorate (1969); his Ph.D. thesis was titled Variations in the Surface Pressure of Mars (Harlan Smith was the adviser). Since that time he has worked at the McDonald Observatory, near Fort Davis, TX, as a Research Scientist with primary interests in planetary science in which he has published some ninety articles (up to1998); in addition he has spent five years as the Observatory Superintendent, and three years as the Discipline Scientist for Planetary Astronomy at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C. Presently he is the Chair of the Division for Planetary Sciences of the AAS. One of his primary concerns now relates to the design and construction of the Hobby-Eberly Telescope (HET), a joint project of the Universities of Texas, Pennsylvania State, Ludwigs-Maximilians, and Georg-August (the latter two in Germany). For a discussion of the telescope design, etc., refer to the web site: http://www.as.utexas.edu/mcdonald/het/het.html (also Ed Barker's photograph may be found there).

Ed Barker and his wife Ann live on top the mountain in a house adjacent to the McDonald Observatory; they have five grown children and four grandsons.

When I was a student at Yerkes, the McDonald Observatory was directed by Otto Struve, and astronomers from Yerkes made frequent trips to observe there; apparently a wealthy donor contributed the finances for constructing the McDonald Observatory, but denied the use of such funds for faculty salaries, so the University of Chicago filled in the gap.


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