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Reflections on the Astronomy of GlasgowA story of some 500 years$
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David Clarke

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748678891

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748678891.001.0001

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The Turn of the Century

The Turn of the Century

(p.273) Chapter 9 The Turn of the Century
Reflections on the Astronomy of Glasgow

David Clarke

Edinburgh University Press

Professor Ludwig Becker's incumbency followed a series of tribulations. After an early mark as a solar spectroscopist under the Earl of Crawford's patronage, he worked at the new Royal Observatory Edinburgh for a short time before coming to Glasgow in 1893. His forte was observational astronomy. Although he had reasonable success with planetary and novae spectroscopy, Horselethill Observatory proved inadequate for his work on the aberration constant. Remarkably he determined his instrument's latitude to an accuracy of ±1 metre. Three submissions were made for new facilities away from the West End urban smokey environment - each rejected by the University. Personal attacks on his integrity developed with the advent of World War I. Born in Germany, suspicion was on him, although he held a Regius Chair and had naturalised citizenship for 20 years. The war years were spent in the highlands. On his return, tired of the strain of observing in poor circumstances, his interests turned to theoretical topics. Despite his personal trials, bitterness never showed and he taught classes which were the largest in the UK. Retiring in 1935, he held an affectionate place in the hearts and minds of students, several later making their mark in the subject.

Keywords:   Professor Ludwig Becker, Solar spectroscopy, Planetary spectroscopy, Horselethill Observatory, Aberration constant, Latitude determination, World War I

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