Heber Curtis

Heber Curtis

Heber Doust Curtis Olson
Born (1872-06-27)June 27, 1872
Muskegon, Michigan
Died January 9, 1942(1942-01-09) (aged 69)
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Nationality United States
Fields astronomy

Heber Doust Curtis (June 27, 1872 – January 9, 1942) was an American astronomer. He was the elder son of Orson Blair Curtis and Sarah Eliza Doust.[1]

He studied at the University of Michigan and at the University of Virginia, where he got a degree in astronomy.

From 1902 to 1920 Curtis worked at Lick Observatory, continuing the survey of nebulae initiated by Keeler. In 1912 he was elected president of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.

In 1920 he was appointed director of the Allegheny Observatory. In the same year he participated in the Great Debate with Harlow Shapley on the nature of nebulae and galaxies, and the size of the universe.

Curtis also invented a type of film plate comparator in about 1925, allowing 2 plates, each 8×10 in, to be compared using a set of prisms and placing the plates on stacked and aligned stages rather than next to one another as was the norm, this allowed the body of the device to measure just 60×51 cm. This device is packed in crates and resided at UCO Lick Observatory as of Aug 2011. His article describing the device appears in the Publications of the Allegheny Observatory, vol. VIII, no. 2.

In 1930 Curtis was appointed director of the University of Michigan observatories, but the shortage of funds following the Great Depression prevented the construction of a large reflector he had designed for the university at Ann Arbor. He contributed to develop the McMath-Hulbert private observatory at Lake Angelus.

Minor planets discovered: 1
(23400) A913 CF February 11, 1913

He participated in 11 expeditions for the study of solar eclipses.


External links

  • The Great Debate
  • National Academy of Sciences Biographical Memoir