III. GALAXIES
On April 26, 1920, there occurred at the National Academy of Sciences in Washington, a famous debate on the "Scale of the Universe." The speakers were Dr. Harlow Shapley, then an astronomer at the Mount Wilson Observatory (he later became the director of Harvard College Observatory), and Dr. Heber D. Curtis, an astronomer at the Lick Observatory (he later became the director of the Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and still later the director of the Observatory of the University of Michigan). Both astronomers had made extensive studies of the arrangement of the stars in the Milky Way but had reached strikingly different conclusions. After a lapse of nearly forty years, their papers, published in the Bulletin of the National Research Council, Vol. 2, Part 3, No. 11 ( Washington, 1921), make one of the most fascinating accounts in the history of science. Even today astronomers argue about who was right, and their appraisals are strongly colored by their own interests in different aspects of the problem of galactic structure. Both scientists were able to back up their conclusions with formidable arrays of observational data that they themselves had secured. Both had found it impossible to accept the other's conclusions, and both were, to some extent, misled by the unreliability of the work of other astronomers or by their own incorrect interpretations of such results.Two principal questions were to be resolved:
1. What is the size and the structure of our own Milky Way galaxy?

-71-

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The Universe
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • KARL TAYLOR COMPTON 1887-1954 ii
  • KARL TAYLOR COMPTON LECTURERS iii
  • Title Page v
  • Preface vii
  • Contents ix
  • I - THE SOLAR SYSTEM: ITS ORIGIN AND EVOLUTION 1
  • II - STELLAR EVOLUTION 35
  • Iii. Galaxies 71
  • IV- Radio Astronomy 95
  • V- Binary Stars And Variables 121
  • VI - MAN AND THE UNIVERSE 145
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