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Storer and I become Colleagues

While I was completing my thesis at Chicago (1949-50), Dr. Storer acquired too many students to handle alone, and wrote me a letter asking if I might be interested in a position with him at K.U. Eventually, after the usual type of negotiation, Dr. Stranathan, the chairman of the Physics and Astronomy department, sent me an offer which I accepted. In retrospect I should have been a more aggressive negotiator, but I especially looked forward to working with Dr. Storer. I began my work there in September, 1950.

It had been agreed when I was hired that several auxiliary pieces of equipment for the 27-inch reflector would be designed and purchased. It was clear that a Newtonian secondary mirror was needed, together with a double-slide plate-holder, two-dimensional measuring machine, photoelectric photometer and spectrograph; I started to work acquiring these items, since several of them could be obtained from the Yerkes Observatory. Furthermore, Dr.Meinel had recently designed and constructed a photometer for the Yerkes 24-inch reflector, and gave me some excellent advice about the optical design, while Dr.Ross (retired from Yerkes) was willing to design a blazed-grating spectrograph for us and oversee its construction. This whole process took several years; in particular the photometer required more construction time than expected, which is not surprising because one is combining optical and electronic systems; at least I found out why astronomers who use photoelectric equipment spend more time revising their equipment than observing.

The observatory had just been moved to the roof top of the newly erected Lindley Hall, which housed the departments of Geology and Petroleum Engineering. I suspect that the motivation for moving was the wood-frame construction of the observatory, which admittedly was inconsistent in appearance with that of the other campus buildings. Dr. Storer had supervised all of this moving, which also included much construction detail and adding extra concrete support for the Lindley Hall roof. The new location was not ideal, since expected expansion of the campus might create serious light pollution; indeed, the addition of the Allen Field House, parking lots, housing facilities, etc., occurred soon thereafter. But finding the existence of a better site and then obtaining the related finances for a move to the country were things only to be dreamt about (much later we even investigated the possibility of using an abandoned Atlas-rocket launch site). The primary objection to the new location, from my point of view, was that the astronomy library had to be divided with many of the books placed in the stacks of the main library, a couple of blocks away. If one couples this to parking problems, meetings elsewhere on the campus, etc., it is obvious that I had to do a lot of walking and stair climbing in all kinds of weather!


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