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Community and Spectral Classification in Astrophysics: The Acceptance of E. C.

Pickering's
System in 1910
Author(s): David H. DeVorkin
Source: Isis, Vol. 72, No. 1 (Mar., 1981), pp. 29-49
Published by: The University of Chicago Press on behalf of The History of Science Society
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Community a nd Spectra l
Cla ssifica tion in Astrophysics:
T he Accepta nce of
B . C. Pickering's System in 1 9 1 0
B y Da vid H. DeVorkin*
I F T HE DAT E OF B I RT H OF AST ROPHYSI CS were to be id entified , it
ought to be 1 859 . I n tha t yea r Gusta v Robert Kirchhoff a na lyzed the sola r
spectrum, a nd from tha t time on a significa nt fra ction of the world 's a stron-
omers bega n using spectrum a na lysis in stud ying the physica l constitution of
celestia l bod ies. B y its tenth birthd a y a strophysics ha d ma ny d iscoveries to its
cred it: for exa mple, tha t true nebula e exist a s ga seous cloud s in spa ce; tha t
hyd rogen a nd ma ny other elements a re conta ined in the sun; tha t the motions of
the sta rs in the line of sight ca n be d etected a nd mea sured ; tha t the sun ha s a
d efinite ga seous a tmosphere; a nd tha t the sta rs ca n be cla ssified by their spectra .
I t is the ra mifica tions of this la st d iscovery tha t a re explored here. Specific-
a lly, we exa mine how a system of cla ssifica tion wa s fina lly a greed upon by the
a stronomica l community. T he centra l event in our stud y is the 1 9 1 0 meeting of
the I nterna tiona l Sola r Union, when a d ecision wa s ma d e to expa nd the scope of
the Union to includ e stella r a strophysics a nd , a s a first step, to form a commit-
tee to review a ll schemes of cla ssifica tion tha t were in use a t tha t d a te. Were
the fa ctors influencing consensus on cla ssifica tion purely scientific, or d id
nonscientific elements ha ve a significa nt influence? T o wha t d egree were sha red
beliefs a nd concepts exta nt in the yet young community of a strophysicists, a nd
to wha t d egree d id these sha red perceptions a id or prevent a greement on a
single scheme of cla ssifica tion?
I
Reviews of the va rious systems of stella r spectra l cla ssifica tion ha ve a ppea red
in severa l pla ces, so only a summa ry is provid ed here, to set the sta ge for
*Cura tor of Astronomy, Na tiona l Air a nd Spa ce Museum, Wa shington, D. C. 20 560 .
I gra tefully a cknowled ge the a id provid ed by a rchivists a t Ha rva rd University, Da rtmouth
College, the Yerkes a nd Lick observa tories, a nd the America n I nstitute of Physics. T he comments
a nd suggestions of Howa rd Plotkin, the Ed itor, a nd two referees a re d eeply a pprecia ted .
'T hese questions stem from T homa s Kuhn's d iscussion of the role of exempla rs a nd rules in
esta blishing a sha red community of thought a nd from the work of H. M. Collins showing the
existence of nonscientific criteria for the a ccepta nce or rejection of scientific work. See T homa s
Kuhn, Structure of Scientific Revolutions (2nd ed . , Chica go: University of Chica go Press, 1 9 70 ),
p. 1 9 3; H. M. Collins, "T he Seven Sexes: AStud y in the Sociology of a Phenomenon, or the
Replica tion of Experiments in Physics," Sociology, 1 9 75, 9 :20 5-244. See a lso M. P. Crosla nd ,
"Aspects of I nterna tiona l Scientific Colla bora tion a nd Orga niza tion before 1 9 0 0 ," in E. G. Forbes,
ed . , Huma n I mplica tions of Scientific Ad va nce (Ed inburgh: Ed inburgh University Press, 1 9 78),
pp. 1 1 4-1 25. T his la st work conclud es tha t sta nd a rd iza tion of nomencla ture overrod e consid era -
tions of na tiona l prestige in interna tiona l science.
I SI S, 1 9 81 , 72
(261 )
29
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30 DAVI D H. DEVORKI N
exa mining how the a strophysics community eventua lly ca me to a consensus. 2
T ha t exa mina tion necessa rily involves some brief rema rks on the growth of
interna tiona l coopera tion in a stronomy.
SCHEMES OF SPECT RAL CLASSI FI CAT I ON
Cla ssifica tion stud ies bega n a s soon a s Kirchhoff's pa pers a ppea red . I n 1 868
Angelo Secchi, the Jesuit a stronomer a nd d irector of the Roma n College Ob-
serva tory (now the Va tica n Observa tory), noted : "We ha ve . . . without d oubt,
in the hea vens a gra nd fa ct, the fund a menta l d istinction between the sta rs
a ccord ing to a sma ll number of types; this opens a field for very ma ny importa nt
cosmologica l specula tions. "3 T he observa tion tha t the number of types wa s
sma ll justified the effort of cla ssifying them. I t a lso ma d e it unlikely tha t the
d ifferences seen in the stella r spectra were merely the result of ra nd om d if-
ferences in the composition of stella r ma tter in spa ce, a s the America n Lewis
Morris Rutherfurd ha d cla imed in 1 862. 4 Secchi conclud ed tha t d ifferences in
spectra a mong the sta rs reflected d ifferences in the physica l constitutions of the
sta rs themselves, a nd so cla ssifying the sta rs by their spectra would revea l the
va rious la ws a nd principles tha t governed their forma tion a nd history.
I n the la te 1 860 s Secchi d ecid ed tha t the prima ry cha ra cteristic ca using d if-
ferences in spectra wa s d ifference in tempera ture. I nitia lly he believed tha t his
conclusion supported a cla ssifica tion of sta rs exhibiting wha t Cha rles C.
Gillispie ha s ca lled "progressive form": "the principle tha t everything which
ca n exist must exist [whereby] a perfect continuum of form rises from the lowest
to the most high. . . " T his concept, embod ied a s ea rly a s 1 81 1 in Willia m
Herschel's morphologica l system for the cla ssifica tion of nebula e, prod uced by
the ea rly pa rt of the nineteenth century a genera l feeling tha t stella r systems d o
evolve with time und er the influence of gra vity. 6 I n much of Secchi's ea rly
writing there is evid ence tha t he enterta ined the possibility tha t a cla ssifica tion
system might reflect the va rious sta ges of evolution tha t cha ra cterize a sta r's
life, from its birth out of a nebula to extinction through continua l cooling. Hot
blue sta rs were a ssocia ted more often tha n not with nebula e, a nd in time va rious
cla ssifiers d emonstra ted tha t the spectra of these sta rs resembled those of
nebula e.
B y the end of the 1 860 s eight schemes of cla ssifica tion ha d been a ttempted by
four a stronomers, Secchi prod ucing five of them a s his observa tions continued .
I n the mid -1 860 s Secchi ha d prod uced systems with three ba sic types, a nd by the
2R. H. Curtiss, "Cla ssifica tion a nd Description of Stella r Spectra ," Ha nd buchd er Astrophysik,
Vol. V, Pt. I (B erlin: Springer, 1 9 31 ), Ch. 1 ; Dorrit Hoffleit, "T he Discovery a nd Exploita tion of
Spectroscopic Pa ra lla xes," Popula r Astronomy, 1 9 50 , 58:428, 483; 1 9 51 , 59 :4; Howa rd Plotkin, "Ed -
wa rd C. Pickering, the Henry Dra per Memoria l, a nd the B eginnings of Astrophysics in America ,"
Anna ls of Science, 1 9 78, 35:365-377; B ria n Gee, "T he Ha rva rd Stud ies in Stella r Astronomy
1 840 -1 89 0 " (Ph. D. d iss. , University of Lond on, 1 9 68); D. H. DeVorkin, "An Astronomica l
Symbiosis: Stella r Evolution a nd Spectra l Cla ssifica tion (1 860 -1 9 1 0 )" (Ph. D. d iss. , University of
Leicester, 1 9 78).
3Angelo Secchi, "On Stella r Spectrometry," Report of the Seventeenth Meeting of the B ritish
Associa tion for the Ad va ncement of Science (1 868), p. 1 69 .
4Lewis Morris Rutherfurd , America n Journa l of Science a nd Arts, 1 862, 35:71 ; 1 863, 35:40 7.
5Cha rles C. Gillispie, T he Ed ge of Objectivity (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1 9 73),
p. 1 9 3.
6G. B . Airy, "Note on the Presenta tion of the Roya l Astronomica l Society Gold Med a l to
J. F. W. Herschel," Monthly Notices of the Roya l Astronomica l Society, 1 836, 3:1 67.
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ASENSE OF COMMUNI T Y I N AST ROPHYSI CS 31
end of the d eca d e he increa sed this to four-T ype I : White sta rs (Vega ); T ype
I I : Yellow sta rs (Arcturus, Sun); T ype I I I : Red sta rs (Alpha Herculis); T ype
I V: Red sta rs (1 52 Schjellerup). T his sepa ra tion of the red sta rs into two types
wa s the first ba sed upon the criterion of spectra l line structure ra ther tha n
merely upon gross color cha ra cteristics. T he two red types d iffered in the
structure of the prominent d a rk ba nd s cha ra cteristic of red sta rs.
I n the 1 870 s a cla ssifica tion following Secchi's lea d wa s d evised by Herma nn
Ca rl Vogel, a member of the sta ff of the newly crea ted Na tiona l Astrophysica l
Observa tory a t Potsd a m, the first institution of its kind in the world d evoted
solely to a strophysics. B ut Vogel recombined Secchi's red T ypes I I I a nd I V into
T ypes I lla a nd I lI b und er the a pprehension tha t Secchi wa s unjustified in
sepa ra ting them beca use the spectra l d ifferences were second a ry effects, pos-
sibly d ue to loca l va ria tions in the chemica l composition of spa ce. Vogel's
ra tiona le for his cla ssifica tion followed d irectly from the specula tions of his
tea cher, Ka rl Fried rich Zollner, who ha d crea ted a n evolutiona ry scena rio in
the 1 860 s ba sed upon the id ea tha t sta rs cooled with a ge a nd pa ssed through
d istinct sta ges of color correla ted with tempera ture. Zollner's specula tions were
not wid ely a ccepted , but they survived in Vogel's influentia l cla ssifica tion of
1 874, which wa s ba sed on the premise: "Ara tiona l cla ssifica tion of the sta rs
a ccord ing to their spectra is proba bly only to be obta ined by proceed ing from
the sta nd point tha t the pha se of d evelopment of the pa rticula r bod y is in genera l
mirrored in its spectrum. "7
T he recombina tion of Secchi's red types into one d id not suit J. Norma n
Lockyer, the found er-ed itor of the B ritish journa l Na ture a nd a n a rd ent pioneer
in the combined field s of sola r, stella r, a nd la bora tory spectroscopy. B y the la te
1 880 s Lockyer brought out a very d ifferent cla ssifica tion, which sepa ra ted the
red types completely. One type wa s thought to represent sta rs in their ea rliest
sta ges of forma tion from nebula e composed of meteoritic ma teria l, a nd the other
to represent sta rs a t the end s of their lives a nd close to extinction. I n between,
Lockyer envisa ged a d ouble-va lued tempera ture curve for the history of a sta r's
life, d uring which the sta r first hea ted upon contra ction out of the meteoritic
nebula a nd then cooled a fter the meteoritic source of hea ting wa s fully va porized .
B y 1 89 0 , then, two very d ifferent id ea s persisted a s to how sta rs spend their
lives. T he a d herents of one sa w the tempera ture (a nd hence color) history of a
sta r a s a linea r process of cooling, a nd so crea ted a linea r cla ssifica tion to
a ccount for it. T hose supporting the other, seeing the tempera ture history a s
d ouble-va lued , crea ted a cla ssifica tion tha t wa s simila rly d ouble-va lued in color.
T he d eta iled ra tiona les employed by the va rious cla ssifiers who followed
one,
the other, or neither of the ma jor systems ha ve been reviewed in severa l
pla ces. 8
For our purposes it suffices to sa y tha t by 1 89 0 , just when photogra phy wa s
beginning to ta ke over from the eye in provid ing fa r more a cute method s for
cla ssifica tion, the fund a menta l cha ra cter of tha t cla ssifica tion wa s still fa r from
d ecid ed .
One of the grea test problems of the d a y wa s tha t no objective mea ns of
7H. C. Vogel, Astronomische Na chrichten, 1 874, 84:1 1 3; Julius Scheiner, Die Spectra la na lyse
Der Gestirne (Leipzig: Wilhelm Engelma nn, 1 89 0 ), tra ns. by Ed win Frost a s Astronomica l Spec-
troscopy (rev. ed . , B oston: Ginn, 1 89 8), p. 236.
8A. J. Mea d ows, Science a nd Controversy: AB iogra phy of Sir Norma n Lockyer (Ca mbrid ge:
MI T Press, 1 9 72); DeVorkin, "Astronomica l Symbiosis," Ch. 2.
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32 DAVI D H. DEVORKI N
compa ring the va rious cla ssifica tions existed . T he ea rly systems were la rgely
ba sed on visua l observa tions ma d e with d ifferent instruments by d ifferent
observers employing d ifferent techniques. Usua lly ea ch observer ha d his own
cla ssifica tion a nd ra tiona le. One who wished to court objectivity by ba sing his
system on photogra phic spectra a lone wa s the Ha rva rd College Observa tory
Director, Ed wa rd Cha rles Pickering. T o this end he crea ted a ma ss of spec-
troscopic d a ta so la rge tha t there wa s little cha nce of selection effects d ue to
sa mpling errors. Pickering insisted in 1 89 1 tha t the scheme he offered wa s truly
empirica l, ba sed only upon the existence, strength, or a bsence of pa rticula r
spectra l lines: "Ea ch spectrum is d escribed a ccord ing to a n empirica l cla ssifica -
tion, which seemed necessa ry a s a first step. T his ca n be converted la ter into a
na tura l cla ssifica tion, when the la tter sha ll ha ve been esta blished . "9 B ut even
Pickering's scheme wa s not entirely empirica l in pra ctice. His sta ff followed his
initia l a lpha betica l scheme of cla ssifica tion, ba sed upon the strengths of the
hyd rogen a nd ca lcium lines seen in stella r spectra , but reord ered a nd simplified
the sequence (into the fa milia r OB AFGKM . . . ) to reflect the simila rities of
stella r line structure with nebula r spectra a nd other cha ra cteristics of a ra tiona l
system ba sed upon the preva lent theory tha t sta rs ha d evolved out of nebula e.
Evolution thus pla yed a n importa nt role in the crea tion of systems of cla ssifi-
ca tion. T he ma jor systems of Secchi, Vogel, a nd Pickering were simila r in
proposing a continua l progression of spectra l type with stella r color from blue to
red , though the systems themselves were quite d ifferent in nomencla ture a nd in
implica tion. T he ca uses for va rious subd ivisions in ea ch cla ssifica tion were
unclea r, a nd a lmost nothing wa s known a bout the a ctua l physica l cha nges
prod ucing cha nges in spectra , even though tempera ture ha d a lwa ys been gen-
era lly rega rd ed a s the prima ry ind epend ent va ria ble. After 1 9 0 0 , with refined
la bora tory techniques a nd va stly improved stella r a nd sola r spectra , la bora tory
stud ies by Alfred Fowler a nd George Ellery Ha le on the whole confirmed the
importa nt role pla yed by tempera ture,'0 but the question of the d irection of
evolution wa s still open, permitting fund a menta lly d issimila r systems of cla ssi-
fica tion to persist. B y 1 9 0 1 twenty-three systems ha d a ppea red , though ma ny
were revisions a nd refinements of ea rlier efforts.
EDWI N FROST 'S CHALLENGE
T he prolifera tion of schemes of spectra l cla ssifica tion prod uced a consid era ble
a mount of confusion a nd frustra tion for those who need ed relia ble cla ssifica tion
d a ta . One of these wa s Ed win Frost of Yerkes Observa tory, who took the
occa sion of the 1 9 0 4 I nterna tiona l Congress of Arts a nd Sciences section meeting
on Astrophysics, held in St. Louis, to d eliver a n ed itoria l entitled "ADesid era -
tum in Spectrology. "
"
Frost bega n by a cknowled ging tha t
lea rning
the true
course of stella r evolution wa s "one of the
grea test
ultima te
problems
of a stro-
9 Ed wa rd Cha rles Pickering, "Prepa ra tion a nd Discussion of the Dra per Ca ta logue," Anna ls of
the Ha rva rd College Observa tory, 1 89 1 , 26:xii.
'0 George Ellery Ha le, Ferd ina nd Ellerma n, J. A. Pa rkhurst, "T he Spectra of Secchi's Fourth
T ype," Publica tions of the Yerkes Observa tory, 1 9 0 4, 2:251 -385. Alfred Fowler's work pa ra lleled
Ha le's. See Alfred Fowler to George Ellery Ha le, 1 9 Oct. 1 9 0 6, in T he George Ellery Ha le Pa pers,
1 882-1 9 37, ed . Da niel Kevles (Pa sa d ena , Ca lif. : Ca rnegie I nstitution of Wa shington/Ca lifornia
I nstitute of T echnology, 1 9 68; on microfilm).
"Ed win Frost, "ADesid era tum in Spectrology," Astrophysica l Journa l, 1 9 0 4, 20 :342.
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ASENSE OF COMMUNI T Y I N AST ROPHYSI CS 33
physics," a nd tha t progress on this problem could be ma d e if workers in the
field could a d opt one comprehensive scheme of spectra l cla ssifica tion.
Frost hoped tha t the I nterna tiona l Congress would provid e a n a ppropria te
sta ge for the beginning of mea ningful interna tiona l coopera tion in the d evelop-
ment of such a scheme. As a n illustra tion "of the confusion a nd mnemonic
d ifficulties" of using the systems present a t the time, Frost cited the va rious
cla ssifica tions of the sta r Procyon: "Secchi, I I ; Vogel (1 875), I a ; Pickering
(Dra per Ca ta logue), F; Lockyer (1 89 3),
A(,f);
Vogel (1 89 5), la 3; Miss Ma ury,
Xlla ; McClea n, Division I I I ; Miss Ca nnon, F5G; Lockyer (1 89 9 ), Procyonia n. "
After this exposition Frost cha llenged his listeners: "I venture to sa y tha t in this
compa ny there a re not ma ny who could insta ntly loca lize a spectrum of Vogel's
Cla ss I a 2; or of the Dra per Ca ta logue E; or Miss Ma ury's VI I c; or of Lockyer's
T a uria n or Achernia n groups. "
Frost d id not himself propose the use of a ny one system, a lthough he d ecla red
a slight preference for the use of generic terms like those found in the cla ssi-
fica tion schemes of Norma n Lockyer or W. H. S. Monck. He felt tha t the
venture of d ecid ing on a scheme should be interna tiona l in scope a nd wid ely
representa tive of the community. His ma in point wa s tha t a n orga nizing effort
must be initia ted a nd a number of guid elines consid ered .
T he first guid eline wa s to sepa ra te cla ssifica tion from theories of evolution
a nd to a ttempt a cla ssifica tion ba sed purely upon observed d a ta . Next, the
scheme should be a s simple a s possible, using objective nomencla ture ba sed
somehow upon the physica l a ppea ra nce of the spectrum itself. T hird , though
tempera ture criteria were a va ila ble, they should be a void ed , "but, without
committa l to a ny theory, the d ifferent electrica l beha vior of the d ifferent lines-
occurrence of enha nced lines, so ca lled -might properly serve a s a criterion in
a rra nging some subd ivisions. " Frost felt tha t the new cla ssifica tion could ha ve
a s ma ny a s one hund red subd ivisions, but tha t it should be grouped into a few
well-d efined ma jor d ivisions. B oth the photogra phic a nd visua l regions of the
spectrum should be includ ed in the cla ssifica tion, a s well a s informa tion from
stud ies of the energy d istribution of spectra .
T o follow such guid elines would require a n interna tiona l project tha t could
ta ke up to five yea rs to complete, so it wa s best to begin immed ia tely; ma ny of
the pioneers in spectroscopy a nd cla ssifica tion were a lrea d y old . Frost there-
fore urged , in conclusion: "I s it not time tha t a beginning be ma d e by the
orga niza tion of a n interna tiona l committee to consid er the question of a new
cla ssifica tion of stella r spectra , representa tive of the observa ble fa cts of the first
d eca d e of the T wentieth Century?"
SPECT RAL CLASSI FI CAT I ON I N 1 9 1 0
B y 1 9 1 0 the genera l situa tion ha d not cha nged since 1 9 0 4, a nd Frost's origina l
rema rks rega rd ing spectra l cla ssifica tion still held true. No one cla ssifica tion
wa s universa lly a ccepted , a nd d ifferent cla ssifica tions continued to be used by
d ifferent spectroscopists. Of the some twenty-three systems prod uced by the
turn of the century, the ones most used or
cited , a s d etermined from the Astro-
nomischer Ja hresbericht a nd the "Reports of the Council of the Roya l As-
tronomica l Society" printed yea rly
in the
Monthly
Notices
of
the
Roya l Astro-
nomica l Society, were those of
Secchi, Vogel,
a nd the two Ha rva rd
systems
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34 DAVI D H. DEVORKI N
-Pickering's Dra per Ca ta logue a nd the d eta iled cla ssifica tion of Antonia Ma ury,
published in 1 89 7. Often the sa me spectroscopists used d ifferent systems inter-
cha ngea bly, d epend ing upon their need s. B oth Ha le a nd Ja cobus Cornelius
Ka pteyn used Secchi's system in genera l d iscussions, but Ha le a nd his observa -
tory sta ff a lso used the Dra per system for specific need s a nd Ka pteyn switched
between Secchi's system, the Dra per system, a nd Ma ury's system. I ronica lly,
while much of Ha le's effort went into stud ying the spectra of Secchi's I I I a nd I V
sta rs, his work supported the id ea tha t they represented coord ina te bra nches in
evolution pa st the sola r sta ge, thus a greeing with Vogel's cla ssifica tion; the
find ing wa s neutra l in rega rd to Secchi's system, but completely opposed to
Lockyer's cla ssifica tion. I n ea rly 1 9 0 9 Ha le still seemed to ta ke comfort in
Secchi's simple system, beca use, a s he noted to his friend , H. F. Newa ll: "it
seemed to me a d visa ble to follow the line of lea st resista nce a nd not d epa rt
ra d ica lly from the old point of view until much new work could be d one. " La ter
in the yea r Ha le rea ssured Pickering tha t in the future the Dra per system would
be a d opted a t Mount Wilson. Yet even Pickering resorted to Secchi's simple
nota tion a s la te a s 1 9 1 0 . 1 2
I n ma ny textbooks of the period , nota bly Cha rles A. Young's extensively
revised series, Secchi's types formed the sta nd a rd of reference, a nd some
mention wa s ma d e of Vogel's 1 89 5 revision a nd the la ter Dra per cla ssifica tion.
Agnes Clerke's importa nt a nd very popula r reviews of a stronomy a t the turn of
the century a lso pointed to the surviva l of Secchi's four ba sic types. I n 1 9 0 3,
a fter d iscussing Ma ury's system, Clerke a rticula ted the common philosophy
rega rd ing cla ssifica tion: "T here is d a nger of stella r cla ssifica tion d egenera ting
into a ma ze of provisiona l d istinctions. T he best remed y is to fix a ttention on
the summit-ra nges of the la nd sca pe; when they a re clea rly imprinted on the
mind , ma stery of d eta il ca n be sa fely a nd rea d ily a cquired . " I 3
Clerke's wa rning a pplied equa lly well to Lockyer's cumbersome system. B ut
simplicity in itself wa s not a n una lloyed virtue. Secchi's system could not
a ccount for the ma ny rea l d ifferences seen in spectra of the four ba sic types, to
which Pickering ha d a d d ed a fifth in 1 89 1 a nd a sixth in 1 9 0 8 to a ccount for sta rs
with "peculia r" spectra . I n this rega rd the photogra phic system revised by
Vogel (with Joha nnes Wilsing) in the 1 89 0 s offered intermed ia te complexity,
a nd it wa s commonly fa vored by a ll Germa n workers. Frost, who ha d pursued
postgra d ua te stud ies in Potsd a m with Julius Scheiner in the 1 89 0 s, used Vogel's
system too, though only for ea se of id entifica tion, but he still felt ha mpered by
its fa ilure to id entify ma ny peculia rities in line structure. I n 1 9 1 0 he wrote to
Willia m Wa lla ce Ca mpbell in d eta il a bout this fa ilure, a d d ing tha t one would
ha ve to refer to notes a ppend ed a t the end of Vogel's a nd Wilsing's ca ta logue to
rea lize tha t fully one-fifth of the types id entified showed a noma lous cha ra c-
teristics.
1 4
Frost ha rbored the sa me d oubts a bout the Dra per cla ssifica tion,
which he expressed in 1 9 0 5 to his old tea cher a nd friend , C. A. Young:
"Pickering's work with objective-prisms wa s d one on too wholesa le a sca le to
a llow the correct exposure to be given for ind ivid ua l sta rs, a nd a knowled ge of
"2George Ellery Ha le to H. F. Newa ll, 1 0 Feb. 1 9 0 9 , a nd Ha le to Ed wa rd Cha rles Pickering, 21
Dec. 1 9 0 9 , Ha le Pa pers; Ed wa rd Cha rles Pickering, Astrophys. J. , 1 9 0 1 , 31 :375.
"3Agnes Clerke, Problems in Astrophysics (Lond on: Ad a m a nd Cha rles B la ck, 1 9 0 3), p. 1 80 .
'4Ed win Frost to Willia m Wa lla ce Ca mpbell, 1 1 Ma r. 1 9 1 0 , Yerkes Observa tory Libra ry,
Willia ms B a y, Wisc.
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ASENSE OF COMMUNI T Y I N AST ROPHYSI CS 35
the subd ivisions of the first type is very d esira ble for ma ny sta rs. "
1 5
Pickering
himself wa s a wa re of this limita tion of objective prism spectra , a lthough by 1 9 1 0
he ha d in pa rt overcome it by borrowing high-qua lity slit spectra of a selected
number of sta rs observed a t Lick a nd Yerkes to see how his cla ssifica tion fa red
und er higher d ispersion, better resolution, a nd proper exposure times, a nd
found ind eed tha t his system fa red quite well.
Frost's priva te opinion of the Dra per cla ssifica tion d iffered from his public
position, which, since his tra nsla tion into English of Scheiner's Astronomica l
Spectroscopy in 1 89 4, wa s a lwa ys fa vora ble. Scheiner himself rejected the
America n system in fa vor of Vogel's;'6 his opinion wa s representa tive of most
Germa ns working a t Potsd a m throughout this period .
I n a d d ition to d egree of complexity or simplicity, a nother virtue in a system
wa s the bulk of sta rs cla ssified und er it. T he virtue lies in the relia bility of being
ba sed upon a sa mple tha t reflects the entire popula tion. Just emerging a t the
time-from ma ssive sta tistica l stud ies of stella r ra d ia l velocities a t the Lick
Observa tory a nd proper motion stud ies a t the Dud ley Observa tory-wa s the
surprising d iscovery tha t the spa ce motions of sta rs correla ted with spectra l
type. First hints of this ca me a s ea rly a s 1 89 4 from the work of W. H. S. Monck,
a gifted a ma teur in Dublin, a nd from Ka pteyn (both of whom ind epend ently
ba sed their work on the Dra per cla ssifica tion of 1 89 0 ). I n 1 9 0 4 Frost a nd
Ad a ms showed tha t both the ra d ia l velocities a nd the proper motions of "helium
sta rs" (Dra per Cla ss B ) were exceed ingly sma ll, a nd this fa ct, ta ken with
Pickering's observa tion in the ea rly 1 89 0 s tha t the sta rs of this cla ss were
thickly clustered in the Milky Wa y pla ne, mea nt tha t such d eta iled sta tistica l
stud ies should revea l the ba sic physica l a nd d yna mica l structure of the Milky
Wa y. T his wa s a n exciting rea liza tion, but the mea ning of the observed increa se
in ra d ia l velocity with spectra l type, a s d ed uced by Ca mpbell a nd Ka pteyn in
1 9 1 0 , wa s unclea r. I t d id provoke new specula tions a bout the evolution of
sta rs a nd of the Milky Wa y system. More d a ta were need ed , however, especia lly
relia ble cla ssifica tions of a s ma ny sta rs a s possible, a nd here the Dra per
cla ssifica tion ea sily d omina ted the field . T he first Dra per volume in 1 89 0 ca t-
a logued 1 0 ,351 sta rs. I n 1 89 7 W. P. Fleming a d d ed 681 sta rs, a nd in 1 9 0 1 Annie
J. Ca nnon a d d ed a nother 1 1 22 sta rs with the promise of thousa nd s more on the
wa y. I n fa ct, in 1 9 0 4 it wa s a ppa rent from sta tistica l stud ies published in the
Anna ls of the Ha rva rd College Observa tory (Ha rva rd Anna ls), tha t over 30 ,0 0 0
sta rs ha d been cla ssified thus fa r a t Ha rva rd . 1 7
Vogel's revised system in 1 89 3 wa s ba sed upon 40 51 sta rs, to which Scheiner
a nd Frost a d d ed 1 21 7 in 1 89 4 a nd Vogel with Wilsing a nother 528 in 1 89 9 .
Lockyer in 1 9 0 2 put 470 sta rs on his system, a nd in following yea rs a d d ed a few
more. T he sum tota l of sta rs cla ssified on a ll other systems, therefore, could not
ma tch the output of the Dra per system.
A third virtue in cla ssifica tion wa s to possess some physica l significa nce.
Some progress ha d been ma d e in sa tisfying most a stronomers tha t the linea r
cla ssifica tions of Secchi, Vogel, a nd Pickering reflected linea r progressions in
I 5Frost to Cha rles A. Young, 20 Apr. 1 9 0 5, Cha rles A. Young Pa pers, Da rtmouth Libra ry,
Da rtmouth, N. H.
'6Frost, Astronomica l Spectroscopy, p. ix.
'7T his is a lso mentioned in the text of a speech a t the Roya l Astronomica l Society presenting the
Society's Gold Med a l to Pickering in 1 9 0 1 . See Mon. Notices Roy. Astron. Soc. , 1 9 0 1 , 61 :29 9 .
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36 DAVI D H. DEVORKI N
tempera ture, a cha ra cteristic most a stronomers felt importa nt for revea ling how
sta rs evolved . B ut in 1 9 1 0 the ind epend ent work of Ejna r Hertzsprung a nd
Henry Norris Russell ha d successfully revived the id ea tha t the tempera ture
histories of sta rs could ind eed be d ouble-va lued , a s Lockyer ha d contend ed for
so long a nd a s August Ritter, J. Homer La ne, a nd Willia m T homson (Lord
Kelvin) ha d shown theoretica lly. As Hertzsprung empha tica lly a rgued , spectra l
nota tion in a ny cla ssifica tion system ought to reflect this d ouble-va lued cha ra c-
teristic, a nd the only one tha t d id a t the time wa s Ma ury's. 1 8 T his d eficiency d id
not prevent Ha le a nd Fowler from correla ting spectrum with tempera ture in the
ma jor single-va lued linea r systems of cla ssifica tion, but it d id confuse efforts to
link spectra l cla ssifica tion to stella r evolution una mbiguously.
T hus while the Dra per cla ssifica tion wa s superior for its sheer bulk, it la cked
the resolution consid ered necessa ry for ma ny d eta iled problems, such a s d if-
ferentia ting between the two possible lines of evolution. B ut which of these two
lines wa s eventua lly to become a ccepted wa s a lso still very much in d oubt. I n
the word s of Ed win Frost, "in the d a rkness of our present ignora nce" 1 9 it wa s
necessa ry to a rrive a t some consensus on cla ssifica tion a s a prelimina ry to a ny
future resea rch on stella r evolution.
I NT ERNAT I ONAL COOPERAT I ON
T he meeting a t which Frost d elivered his ed itoria l a d d ress wa s the inspira tion of
George Ellery Ha le, whom Frost succeed ed a s Director of Yerkes Observa tory
in 1 9 0 5. Ha le ha d worked on cla ssifica tion problems, ha rbored a d eep interest
in stella r evolution, a nd in fa ct ha d origina lly suggested to Frost tha t the
problems of stella r evolution a nd spectra l cla ssifica tion be ra ised for d iscussion
a t the 1 9 0 4 Congress. Since the Columbia n Exposition a t Chica go in 1 89 3, when
a n interna tiona l meeting of a stronomers wa s convened for the first time in
America , Ha le held hopes tha t somed a y he might orga nize a truly interna tiona l
society for the a d va ncement of his bra nch of a strophysics-sola r resea rch. He
pla nned a society whose membership would be orga nized in interlocking com-
missions d evoted to specific subject a rea s. T he 1 9 0 4 I nterna tiona l Congress
offered him a second cha nce to d evelop his pla ns. I n the summer of 1 9 0 4 he
conta cted scores of a stronomers world -wid e, inviting them to the Congress a nd
to a section meeting on a strophysics he wa s orga nizing und er the a uspices of the
Na tiona l Aca d emy of Sciences. I n his initia l letters to a stronomers such a s
Lockyer he ind ica ted tha t he hoped tha t pla ns could d evelop to begin work on
the sta nd a rd iza tion of wa velengths for id entifying elements in the sola r spec-
trum, a nd tha t committees could be formed to coord ina te routine observa tions
of the sun. 20
T hose a ttend ing the St. Louis meeting in 1 9 0 4 d ecid ed tha t a n interna tiona l
1 8D. H. DeVorkin, "Steps T owa rd the Hertzsprung-Russell Dia gra m," Physics T od a y, 1 9 78,
31 :32-39 .
"9 Frost, "Desid era tum," p. 345.
20 Ha le to Frost, 21 July 1 9 0 4, Ha le Pa pers; Helen Wright, Explorer of the Universe: AB iogra phy
of George Ellery Ha le (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1 9 66), p. 1 89 ; George Ellery Ha le to Norma n
Lockyer, 21 Aug. 1 9 0 4. Norma n Lockyer Pa pers, Exeter University, Exeter, Engla nd ; sent to me
courtesy A. J. Mea d ows.
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ASENSE OF COMMUNI T Y I N AST ROPHYSI CS 37
society should be crea ted to oversee a nd promote sola r resea rch. T he first
officia l meeting, a t which the society wa s to be officia lly crea ted , committees
formed , a nd cha irmen insta lled , wa s to be held a t Oxford in September 1 9 0 5.
T hus wa s born the I nterna tiona l Union for Coopera tion in Sola r Resea rch.
T he Sola r Union, a s it wa s ca lled , wa s not the first interna tiona l orga niza tion
in a stronomy. T he Astronomische Gesellscha ft ha d long been in existence, a nd
a s ea rly a s 1 887 a ma jor interna tiona l project wa s put in motion in Pa ris to
photogra ph a nd ca refully ma p the entire sky. T he initia l meeting a t the Pa ris
Observa tory in April 1 887 wa s a ttend ed by fifty-six a stronomers from nineteen
countries. T wenty ca me from Fra nce, six ea ch from Engla nd a nd Germa ny,
three from Holla nd a nd the United Sta tes, two ea ch from Russia , Swed en,
Austria , a nd Denma rk. 21 T he result, which wa s ma ny yea rs in coming a nd never
fully completed , wa s the "Astrogra phic Cha rt," or "Ca rte d u ciel. "
T he Astrogra phic Cha rt brought together a stronomers to enga ge upon a
project in positiona l a stronomy: the prod uction of a comprehensive a tla s a nd
ca ta logue of the positions a nd brightnesses of the sta rs. T he project wa s very
necessa ry a t the time, but la rger tha n the resources a va ila ble in a ny one
country. From its inception serious technica l limita tions, such a s the la ck of
sta nd a rd ized photogra phic emulsions, a nd the relucta nce of the va rious pa rtici-
pa ting observa tories to use foreign systems of nota tion a nd celestia l coord ina te
systems pla gued the project. 22 Coopera tion of observa tories in the Astro-
gra phic Cha rt thus led only to sha red la bor, a nd to this d a y the project rema ins
incomplete.
One very importa nt outgrowth of the project wa s, however, the Eros Ca m-
pa ign. At the turn of the century a newly d iscovered minor pla net na med Eros
wa s found to ma ke a very close a pproa ch to ea rth. I t ca me close enough so tha t
its d ista nce could be a ccura tely d etermined by pa ra lla ctic tria ngula tion from
d ifferent observa tories. Once the orbit of Eros a round the sun wa s d etermined ,
the elements of its orbit could be ca libra ted a ga inst its mea sured d ista nce from
ea rth, a nd hence it would a fford a highly a ccura te d etermina tion of the va lue of
the a stronomica l unit-the mea n d ista nce of the ea rth from the sun. T he Eros
Ca mpa ign wa s formed a round the sa me observa tories enga ged in the Astro-
gra phic Cha rt. Observa tions were ta ken world wid e, a nd the Lick Observa tory
a nd the Roya l Observa tory a t Greenwich und ertook ind epend ent stud ies, the
results of which were synthesized by Arthur R. Hinks a t Ca mbrid ge. I t wa s ea sy
enough to coord ina te observa tions, but serious d ifferences of opinion existed
over how the positions of Eros were to be d etermined . Other qua rrels, such a s
over the d egree to which ea ch of the contributing observa tories wa s going to
pa rticipa te-a problem representa tive of the troubles pla guing the Astrogra -
phic Cha rt genera lly-not only crossed interna tiona l bound a ries, but a rose
between observa tories in the sa me country. I n a ll, though the va lue of the
2'H. H. T urner, T he Grea t Sta r Ma p (Lond on: John Murra y, 1 9 1 2), p. 1 38.
22T urner, Sta r
Ma p, p.
52. As a consequence, the Astrogra phic Cha rt, while a necessa ry
inter-
na tiona l effort a t the time, d id not sa tisfy fully wha t Pa ul Forma n d efines a s the tenets of the
id eology of scientific interna tiona lism, whichinclud e the necessity of supra na tiona l a greement
on
scientific d octrine. I n this ca se the d octrines were not conceptua l, rela ting
to physica l la w,
but
opera tiona l, d ea ling with pra ctica l problems. See Pa ul Forma n, "Scientific I nterna tiona lism a nd
the Weima r Physicists: T he I d eology a nd its Ma nipula tion in Germa ny
a fter World Wa r I ,"
I sis,
1 9 73, 64:1 51 -1 80 , on pp. 1 54-1 55.
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38 DAVI D H. DEVORKI N
a stronomica l unit wa s refined , the roa d to interna tiona l coopera tion rema ined
rougher tha n one would hope. 23
I n the yea rs following the meetings in 1 9 0 4 a nd 1 9 0 5 tha t esta blished the Sola r
Union, other interna tiona l ca mpa igns a nd committees bega n to a ppea r. I n 1 9 0 5
Willia m Wa lla ce Ca mpbell a t Lick proposed tha t a comprehensive ca ta logue of
spectroscopic bina ry sta rs be d eveloped . T his project would require input
from ma ny observa tories a nd the crea tion of a sta nd a rd ized nomencla ture for
the bina ries. B ut the most importa nt coopera tive effort wa s proposed a nd
orga nized by Ja cobus Cornelius Ka pteyn, with Ha le's wholehea rted support, in
the booklet Pla n of Selected Area s. 24 T his pla n wa s conceived d uring the yea rs
1 9 0 4-1 9 0 7 a s a n efficient mea ns of d eriving sta nd a rd ized d a ta for selected
a rea s of the sky thought to be representa tive of the entire sky. T wo hund red a nd
six a rea s were selected for sta r counts to fa inter limits tha n ha d been hitherto
a ttempted . Da ta on a ppa rent ma gnitud es, spectra l types, proper motions a nd
ra d ia l velocities were a lso d esired . Ka pteyn's immed ia te interest wa s to gen-
era te d a ta useful to the sta tistica l stud y of the structure of the Milky Wa y, a nd
eventua lly he prod uced a refined version of his fa mous "Ka pteyn Universe"
from this d a ta ba se. I t ha d long been clea r to Ka pteyn tha t no one observa tory
could possibly genera te a ll the d a ta need ed within a rea sona ble a mount of time,
a nd tha t there wa s no possibility tha t his home country, the Netherla nd s, would
be a ble to d evelop enough observa tiona l fa cilities to genera te them, especia lly
und er the very poor observing cond itions in the a rea . Ka pteyn ha d a lrea d y
enlisted the a id of foreign observa tories for the prod uction of ba sic a stronomi-
ca l d a ta , his long colla bora tion with Da vid Gill on the Ca pe Photogra phic Durch-
musterung setting a n excellent exa mple.
Ka pteyn's Pla n of Selected Area s not only required the pa rticipa tion of ma ny
observa tories, but more tha n a ny ea rlier interna tiona l project suffered from the
la ck of a n interna tiona l a greement on nomencla ture. I n the yea rs following
1 9 0 7, then, there wa s increa sing pressure on a stronomers to come to a greement
on ma gnitud e systems, genera l nomencla ture for sta rs, a nd the cla ssifica tion of
sta rs by their spectra .
B ut interna tiona l coopera tion suffered from persona l a nd politica l d iffer-
ences. Lockyer wa s shunned a s a ca nd id a te for cha irma n of the sunspot com-
mittee of the I nterna tiona l Sola r Union. 25 I n 1 9 0 7, when Vogel d ied , d is-
a greement a rose over who wa s to be his repla cement a t Potsd a m. Most America ns
fa vored Ka rl Schwa rzschild , with the exception of Ca mpbell, who preferred the
next in line a t Potsd a m, Joha nn F. Ha rtma nn. Schwa rzschild wa s the successful
ca nd id a te, a nd Ha rtma nn, with some a crimony, left Potsd a m to ta ke Schwa rz-
schild 's old position a t Gd ttingen. 26
Nevertheless there wa s grea t need for interna tiona l coopera tion. As tele-
scopes grew la rger a nd more costly a nd observing projects beca me more
23For controversies a rising in the course of the Eros Ca mpa ign see the Arthur Hinks pa pers,
University of Ca mbrid ge I nstitute for Astronomy, Ca mbrid ge, esp. A. R. Hinks to Willia m
Wa lla ce Ca mpbell, 6 Nov. a nd 1 4 Dec. 1 9 0 2; Hinks to George Ellery Ha le, 1 6 Apr. 1 9 0 3. See a lso
letters in the Willia m Wa lla ce Ca mpbell correspond ence, Lick Observa tory, Mount Wilson, Ca lif. ;
T urner, Sta r Ma p, pp. 26-30 ; a nd Fra nk W. Dyson et a l. , "Proceed ings a t Meeting of the Roya l
Astronomica l Society," Observa tory, 1 9 0 4, 27:1 84-1 85.
24Ja cobus Cornelius Ka pteyn, Pla n of Selected Area s (Groningen: Hoitsema B ros. , 1 9 0 6).
25Arthur Schuster to Cha rles A. Young (ca . 1 9 0 5), Young Pa pers.
26Correspond ence between Ed win Frost a nd George Ellery Ha le, ca . 1 9 0 8-1 9 0 9 , Yerkes Ob-
serva tory Libra ry; Frost to Ha le, 1 1 Ja n. 1 9 0 9 , Ha le Pa pers.
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ASENSE OF COMMUNI T Y I N AST ROPHYSI CS 39
extend ed , a d d d ing ever fa inter objects for photogra phic a nd spectroscopic
stud y, Frost bega n to feel tha t a n effort should be ma d e to a void d uplica ting
observing projects, a nd tha t everyone might contribute to a genera l forum tha t
could continua lly exa mine observing priorities. 27
T HE FOURT H MEET I NG OF T HE SOLAR UNI ON I N 1 9 1 0
Up to 1 9 1 0 the meetings of the I nterna tiona l Sola r Union ha d been confined
principa lly to d iscussions of sola r physics. I n meetings a fter 1 9 0 5 informa l
groups bega n to d iscuss sta nd a rd iza tion of photogra phic ma gnitud e systems a nd
a llied problems in stella r a stronomy. T his increa sed informa l a ctivity led to
Ha le's d ecid ing, a fter d iscussions with Frost, Arthur Schuster, a nd others a s
pla ns d eveloped for the 1 9 1 0 meetings in Pa sa d ena , tha t a n effort should be
ma d e to expa nd the scope of the Union, a nd in pa rticula r tha t a section be
d evoted to pend ing problems in stella r spectroscopy. I n December 1 9 0 7 Ha le
wrote to Pickering outlining the pla n for expa nd ing the Sola r Union a nd inviting
him to become a member of the Union now tha t it might be of some interest to a
stella r a stronomer. Ha le suggested further tha t, since a grea t ma ny Europea ns
were to be coming to the Union, it would be gra cious to form a committee of
America ns to oversee their tra vel a cross the United Sta tes a nd a rra nge visits for
them to observa tories a nd la bora tories. Pickering respond ed positively to
Ha le's invita tion, offered to host a ny Europea ns pa ssing through Ca mbrid ge,
a nd a d d ed tha t he would be gla d to become a member of the Union, now tha t it
would includ e stella r a stronomy. 28
As pla ns d eveloped for the Pa sa d ena meetings, Ha le consid ered the possi-
bility of a rra nging a meeting of the Astronomica l a nd Astrophysica l Society of
America either to coincid e with the Union or to permit the visitors to a ttend
both functions. La rgely in correspond ence with Pickering, who wa s the presi-
d ent of the society, he eventua lly d eveloped a pla n to hold those meetings a t
Ha rva rd before the Union meetings in Pa sa d ena a nd to a rra nge for a tra in to
ca rry a ll the a stronomers west. Not only would a junket of this sort a llow the
more timid a mong the Europea n tra velers a cha nce to see America , but it would
a lso a fford the cha nce for informa l meetings en route.
Pickering wa s well a wa re tha t the expa nd ed scope of the Union would provid e
a forum for the sta nd a rd iza tion of nomencla ture in a strophysics. He wa s a lrea d y
involved with simila r problems rega rd ing the sta nd a rd iza tion of ma gnitud es,
since he ha d recently been a ppointed presid ent of the Committee on Photo-
gra hic Stella r Ma gnitud es of the Astrogra phic Cha rt Conference. While Picker-
ing wa s ea ger to work on the sta nd a rd iza tion of photogra phic ma gnitud es, his
feelings a bout sta nd a rd izing spectra l cla ssifica tion were not so clea r-cut in his
mind . At the time, no a strophysicist a live ha d d evoted so much time a nd effort
to the crea tion of a cla ssifica tion system. T he Dra per cla ssifica tion ha d ga ined
enormous momentum from the va st numbers of sta rs cla ssified a nd the d eca d es
d evoted to it by the Ha rva rd sta ff. Pickering quite na tura lly ha d some serious
27Some of this d esire to orga nize others could ha ve been a n outgrowthof Fros-t's new enthusia sm
for being the new prima ry ed itor of the Astrophysica l Journa l, whichhe sa w a s the proper forum
for coopera tion.
28Ha le to Frost, 1 3 Ma y 1 9 0 8; Ha le to Ed wa rd Cha rles Pickering, 1 7 Dec. 1 9 0 7; Pickering to
Ha le, 31 Dec. 1 9 0 7, Ha le Pa pers.
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40 DAVI D H. DEVORKI N
a pprehensions a bout wha t a committee recommend ing the forma l a d option of a
universa l system of spectra l cla ssifica tion might d ecid e. I nklings of these
feelings a ppea r in Pickering's short persona l d ia ry of his journey to Pa sa d ena ,
a nd it is pa rtia lly from this d ia ry tha t we now reconstruct the events prior to,
d uring, a nd a fter the Sola r Union meetings tha t fina lly prod uced a consensus on
cla ssifica tion.
T HE T RAI N WEST AND T HE MEET I NGS
T he prima ry a ctivity on the westwa rd tra in, which left B oston on 20 August, wa s
committee work. Pickering noted tha t there were "informa l committees wher-
ever I sit. " On the fourth d a y of the trip, once pa st Chica go, the Committee on
Photogra hic Stella r Ma gnitud es met; it includ ed Pickering, Ka rl Schwa rzschild ,
H. H. T urner, a nd 0 . B a cklund . T he informa l meetings ma d e some importa nt
progress, for by 24 August, before a rriva l in Fla gsta ff, Arizona , a greement on a
system of ma gnitud es wa s rea ched , with Schwa rzschild giving up his Potsd a m
system in fa vor of tha t of Ha rva rd . Pickering reca lled : "My pa rt in this will be
rega rd ed a s one of the most importa nt things I ha ve ever d one. "29 Pickering
prepa red his d ra ft report of the committee while the group stopped a t the Gra nd
Ca nyon, a nd then they a ll journeyed to Ca lifornia through the intense hea t of
the Moja ve Desert, a rriving in Pa sa d ena on 28 August. After two d a ys of
touring Ha le's sola r la bora tory in Pa sa d ena a nd the observa tory on Mount
Wilson, the group of over a hund red a stronomers settled d own a t Mount Wilson
for the meetings.
T he first d a y of the Sola r Union, 31 August, pa ssed without comment in
Pickering's d ia ry. He ha d been selected a s cha irma n, but the topics were
confined to sola r physics. T ha t a fternoon Ka pteyn ga thered a number of a s-
tronomers together a t the cotta ge he wa s occupying to d iscuss his Pla n of
Selected Area s. Pickering ind ica ted in his d ia ry tha t this wa s a ctua lly a Com-
mittee on Selected Area s a nd tha t he a ga in presid ed . On the second d a y of the
Union sola r ma tters a ga in occupied the morning sessions, but in the a fternoon
Pickering convened the Committee on Photogra phic Stella r Ma gnitud es, a nd
his d ia ry record s tha t pra ctica lly a ll their work ha d been finished . Ed win Frost
presid ed over the third d a y, a nd a t the end of the morning session he ca lled for a
specia l ea rly a fternoon session to consid er the forma l proposa l to extend the
scope of the Union to includ e a strophysics. T he published tra nscription of this
session throws light on why ma ny Union members wished to includ e a stro-
physics, a nd wha t reserva tions were held by other members.
When the ma tter wa s put up for d iscussion, H. F. Newa ll, a sola r a stronomer
from Ca mbrid ge, worried tha t with the extension of the Union a nd the forma -
tion of a committee to consid er spectra l cla ssifica tion "the d a nger would be tha t
[the committee] might tend towa rd s d ogma tic a ction which might result in
d ela ying a d va nce ra ther tha n furthering it. " Newa ll noted tha t the recent work of
Ca mpbell, Henry Norris Russell, a nd Ka pteyn required open a nd crea tive
d iscussion of the problems fa cing cla ssifiers, a nd tha t the forma tion of such a
committee would be a good pla n only if it could a lso rema in open a nd receptive
29 Ed wa rd Cha rles Pickering, "Dia ry of a T rip to Pa sa d ena to Attend Meeting of Sola r Union,
August 1 9 1 0 ," Ha rva rd University Archives (HUA), Ha rva rd College Observa tory, d irector's
files, item HUG 1 69 0 -1 2, quoting pp. 1 , 3. T his d ia ry ha s been reprod uced by Howa rd Plotkin in
the Southern Ca lifornia Qua rterly, 1 9 78, 60 :29 -44.
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ASENSE OF COMMUNI T Y I N AST ROPHYSI CS 41
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Figure 1 . Activities connected with the meeting of the Sola r Union. T he front pa ge of the
Los Angeles Exa miner for 30 August 1 9 1 0 reports on the George Ellery Ha les' ga rd en pa rty
for the visiting members (courtesy UCLALibra ry Specia l Collections). T he insert shows
Professors P. Puisueux a nd A. B elopovsky of Pa ris, "T wo Noted Astronomers on the Wa y to
the Summit of Mt. Wilson" (from H. E. Wilson, "T he Fourth I nterna tiona l Union for Co-Opera tion
in Sola r Resea rch," Popula r Astronomy, 1 9 1 0 , 1 8:49 3).
to new id ea s a nd not rush to esta blish a ny one cla ssifica tion a s the universa l
sta nd a rd . 30
Arthur Schuster, Secreta ry of the Union a nd ed itor of its T ra nsa ctions, then
rose to cla rify why the proposed extension wa s need ed . First, ma ny of the
techniques a nd ultima te interests of sola r a nd stella r a stronomers were the
sa me, a nd extend ing the scope of the Union would bring in the stella r a strono-
mers, who "ha ve hitherto stood a sid e a nd kept a loof from our Union. " Next,
orga niza tion on a n interna tiona l sca le to d ea l with problems in stella r a stro-
physics, nota bly spectra l cla ssifica tion, "is becoming urgent" a nd "a t present
no a ssocia tion exists tha t would und erta ke to orga nize the required coopera -
tion, a nd multiplica tion of interna tiona l societies would ca use grea ter d ifficulties
tha n the enla rgement of a n a lrea d y existing one. " Schuster felt tha t the esta b-
lishment of a new orga niza tion specifica lly for stella r a strophysics would ser-
iously overla p a nd conflict with the Union. 3'
30 Arthur Schuster, ed . , T ra nsa ctions of the I nterna tiona l Union for Coopera tion in Sola r Re-
sea rch (Ma nchester: Ma nchester University Press, 1 9 1 1 ), Vol. I I I (fourth conference), p. 1 0 6.
3'Schuster, T ra nsa ctions, p. 1 0 7. One slightly ironic outcome of the eventua l extension of the
scope of the Sola r Union, in the light of Schuster's rema rk tha t the extension would bring in the
stella r a stronomers, wa s tha t some future extensions d rew criticism. Otto Struve rema rked a t the
I AU meeting in 1 9 55: "I remember severa l occa sions in the pa st when a n eminent a stronomer
could not become a member of the Union beca use there wa s no suita ble pigeon-hole for him. Our
only solution of the resulting d ilemma wa s to crea te, a rtificia lly, a new commission in ord er to
a ccommod a te such a person. " Otto Struve, "Ad d ress of the Presid ent," T ra nsa ctions of the
I nterna tiona l Astronomica l Union, 1 9 57, 9 :1 4.
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42 DAVI D H. DEVORKI N
H. H. T urner of Oxford a greed with Schuster a nd remind ed the a ud ience tha t
a nother interna tiona l orga niza tion d id exist-the Astrogra phic Cha rt Confer-
ence-a nd tha t it a lso wa s expa nd ing its scope from strict positiona l a stronomy
into stella r a strophysics through its committee on photogra phic ma gnitud es.
T urner felt tha t between the two groups the whole of a stronomy a nd a stro-
physics could be covered , a nd tha t "it would be a grea t pity if a nother bod y
were to come in a nd overla p either to a ny consid era ble extent. " T urner d id not
ind ica te whether a ny competition existed between the two existing orga niza -
tions; he a rgued tha t it wa s proper for the Astrogra phic Cha rt Conference to
worry a bout ma gnitud es a nd for the Union to extend its bound a ries to includ e
stella r a strophysics. He conclud ed tha t the Union should therefore extend its
scope, to "sa fegua rd a ga inst the d a nger to which Professor Schuster ha s a l-
lud ed , tha t new orga niza tions might step in. "32
Schuster a nd T urner sought to a void forming a new interna tiona l orga niza tion
tha t would conflict with either the Sola r Union or the Astrogra phic Cha rt
Conference. T hey hoped tha t better conta ct between the two existing orga niza -
tions, with the proper expa nsion of both to encompa ss the entire a stronomica l
field , would obvia te conflicts between the two. T hough the Union in this ca se
wa s to follow their a d vice, in la ter yea rs it hesita ted to ta ke the initia tive, a nd
ind eed conflict a rose between competing interna tiona l orga niza tions a s a result. 33
Of course, a third orga niza tion with interna tiona l sta ture existed -the Astro-
nomische Gesellscha ft-tha t d id consid er problems in stella r a strophysics.
Wha tever its perceived role vis-'a -vis the Union or the Astrogra phic Cha rt
Conference, it wa s not mentioned in the tra nscriptions of the 1 9 1 0 meetings. I n
fa ct, a fter Schuster a nd T urner spoke, it wa s the Germa ns who proposed ex-
pa nd ing the scope of the Union a nd a d opting a committee on spectra l cla ssifica -
tion. Ka rl Schwa rzschild proposed the expa nsion, a nd H. Ka yser of the Deutsche
Physika lische Gesellscha ft in B erlin proposed the committee, second ed by
T urner.
When the second motion wa s open for d iscussion, Pickering stepped in with
"a word or two" tha t la sted a t lea st ten minutes a nd took four pa ges in the
T ra nsa ctions. His rema rks served to remind everyone present tha t Ha rva rd
wa s d eeply involved in the issue a t ha nd . T o a pprecia te the rema rks, we must
return to Pickering's d ia ry.
Pickering ha rbored consid era ble a pprehension a bout the proposed expa nsion
a nd resulta nt forma tion of a committee on cla ssifica tion. T hough he fa vored
these a ctions in his d iscussions a t the meetings, he confid ed to himself in his
d ia ry: "I ha ve been wa rned tha t it is proposed to a ppoint a Committee on the
Cla ssifica tion of Stella r Spectra , a nd it is hinted tha t this is a n a ttempt to
substitute a nother cla ssifica tion for tha t we ha ve introd uced a nd a d opted a t
Ha rva rd . "34 I t is not known who "wa rned " Pickering, or whether the hint
a bout substitution ha d a ny ba sis. B ut Pickering ind eed ha d ca use to worry, since
32Schuster, T ra nsa ctions, p. 1 1 0 .
33Around 1 9 50 the I nterna tiona l Astronomica l Union a nd the I nterna tiona l Union of Ra d io
Science competed to some extent in d eveloping ra d io a stronomy. See Da vid Ed ge a nd Micha el
Mulka y, Astronomy T ra nsformed : T he Emergence of Ra d io Astronomy in B rita in (New York:
Wiley, 1 9 76), pp. 59 -67. I n 1 9 1 0 a nd 1 9 50 the ba ses of such conflicts were both scientific a nd
politica l, for just a s in ra d io a stronomy a stronomers a nd ra d io engineers were interd epend ent,
stella r a stronomers in 1 9 1 0 were d epend ent upon the expertise of the Union a nd the Astrogra phic
Cha rt Conference.
34Pickering, "Dia ry," pp. 7-8.
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ASENSE OF COMMUNI T Y I N AST ROPHYSI CS 43
no one cla ssifica tion wa s universa l in scope, a nd the role of evolution vis-'a -vis
cla ssifica tion wa s still unclea r. T hese fa cts, ta ken with the prospective a ppoint-
ment of a forma l committee, must ha ve ma d e the future of a ny cla ssifica tion
uncerta in. Pickering rightfully d rea d ed the moment of d ecision.
After reviewing the evolution of the Dra per cla ssifica tion for the Sola r
Union, Pickering a rgued : ". . . it ma kes very little d ifference wha t na me you
give to a n object so long a s when you give the na me you know wha t tha t object is. "
T his wa s to justify his use of a ga rbled a lpha betica l scheme, which resulted when
mod ifica tions were ma d e to the strict a lpha betica l sequence he ha d introd uced
in 1 89 0 . He a lso a rgued tha t a ny a ccepta ble system must a ccount for a t lea st six
fund a menta l types of sta rs-his types B , A, F, G, K, a nd M-a nd tha t these
mea ningless letters would d o until the theory of evolution of the sta rs beca me
d efinitely known. T hird , he told the a ud ience tha t his sta ff wa s a t present
a na lyzing high-qua lity slit spectra lent by the Yerkes a nd Lick observa tories
-spectra tha t would point out a ny d eficiencies in the Dra per cla ssifica tion-
a nd tha t he hoped tha t "the Committee to be a ppointed will not ta ke a ny ra d ica l
steps towa rd s cha nge a s yet. " Pickering noted tha t his sta ff wa s specifica lly
concerned with d etecting subcla sses to his K cla ss, subcla sses tha t might help to
d ecid e for or a ga inst a d ouble-va lued tempera ture history for the sta rs, a fa ct
Pickering d id not ha ve to spell out for his a ud ience. 35
When Pickering ha d finished , Schuster rose to a ssure the a ud ience tha t the
proposed committee would not ta ke a ny "hurried or extreme a ction. " Schuster
hoped tha t the committee would collect opinions, "from those competent to
give such opinions" in a circula ted questionna ire. Ad d itiona l commenta ry
before the vote includ ed a n a rgument by Philip Fox of the Dea rborn Observa -
tory in Eva nston, I llinois, tha t the nota tion should includ e recogniza ble criteria
of significa nce for evolution, a nd tha t the committee might more properly
consid er the problems of stella r evolution d irectly, ra ther tha n spectra l cla ssifi-
ca tion. Newa ll a nd others a rgued ba ck a nd forth over the scope a nd brea d th of
the committee, a nd eventua lly the proposa l wa s put to a vote a nd pa ssed
una nimously.
With the vote ta ken a nd other business d ispensed with, the time ca me to
a ppoint the committee itself. T hough Pickering's d ia ry implies tha t the cha ir-
ma n of the session, Frost, rose a nd a ppointed a committee of fourteen, in fa ct
the T ra nsa ctions sta te tha t T urner provid ed twelve na mes a nd nomina ted Fra nk
Schlesinger of the Allegheny Observa tory in Pittsburgh a s secreta ry. How
T urner a rrived a t the following na mes is not known: W. S. Ad a ms, Ca mpbell,
Frost, Ha my, Ka pteyn, Kustner, Newa ll, Pickering, J. S. Pla skett, Russell,
Schlesinger, a nd Schwa rzschild . 36 After some unrela ted d iscussion, Frost sug-
gested tha t Pickering be a ppointed cha irma n of the committee, a nd a fter further
d iscussion the na mes of Ha rtma nn a nd Ha le were a d d ed to the committee. Of
a ll the na mes on the list only Pickering's wa s a ssocia ted d irectly with a system of
spectra l cla ssifica tion. T he others were ma inly importa nt users of cla ssifica tion
d a ta ; ten were representa tives of orga niza tions tha t belonged to the Sola r
Union, a nd a ll were present a t the meeting. Ha lf of the members of the
35 Schuster, T ra nsa ctions, quoting pp. 1 1 3, 1 1 5.
36B othPickering a nd Frost reca ll tha t the westwa rd tra in a id ed prepa ra tions for the Sola r Union
meetings. T he benefits ma y ha ve includ ed the ground work for ra pid a greements a nd for T urner's
provision of a list of a ccepta ble na mes. See Ed win Frost, An Astronomer's Life (B oston: Houghton
Mifflin, 1 9 33), p. 1 47; Pickering, "Dia ry. "
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44 DAVI D H. DEVORKI N
committee were America ns, a nd three were Germa ns. Much la ter, a fter a
d iscussion with Arthur Schuster, Pickering a d d ed the na me of Alfred Fowler,
Lockyer's former stud ent a nd a ssocia te.
T he la st a d d ition wa s ma d e to a ppea se Lockyer, the only pioneer cla ssifier
still a live who wa s not involved in the proceed ings of the Sola r Union or the
cla ssifica tion committee, a lthough he wa s orgina lly invited to a ttend . As the
a uthor of one of the better-known systems, Lockyer ha d much to lose by not
pa rticipa ting. Schuster la ter commented to Pickering: "Lockyer ta lked to me
the other d a y a bout the cla ssifica tion of stella r spectra . He ta kes his exclusion
from the committee pretty well, but I think he feels it. "37 Lockyer's exclusion
(or refusa l to a ttend ) might be construed a s a result of pa st d ifficulties in the
Sola r Union; a s we noted before, there wa s resista nce to his being ma d e the
cha irma n of the sunspot committee. B ut Lockyer wa s not the only spectros-
copist to be "exclud ed . " H. Ka yser, Henri Alexa nd re Desla nd res, A. L.
Cortie, Arthur Schuster, A. B elopolsky, Willia mina Fleming, a nd V. M. Slipher
a ll a ttend ed the meeting a nd were just a s qua lified to sit on the committee a s
some of those a ctua lly selected -a nd severa l were better qua lified . Others
who d id not a ttend a nd were a s qua lified a s Lockyer includ e J. Wilsing,
Vogel's a nd Scheiner's a ssocia te a t Potsd a m, who wa s d eeply involved in spec-
trophotometry a nd ha d a id ed in the cla ssifica tion work d one on Vogel's system;
E. Wa lter Ma und er of the Roya l Greenwich Observa tory, who ha d been a keen
critic of cla ssifica tion systems in the ea rly 1 89 0 s; F. K. McClea n, who ha d
prod uced a cla ssifica tion system in 1 89 7-1 89 8; a nd , J. Scheiner himself, the
renowned spectroscopist a nd fa ithful d efend er of Vogel's system.
Ma ny of those left off the committee were la ter a sked to provid e commenta ry
a nd opinions on the sta te of cla ssifica tion. I f Lockyer wa s a pproa ched , he d id
not respond to the fina l questionna ire d evised a nd d istributed by the commit-
tee. I t a ppea rs tha t he wa s not even a sked for his opinion, since Schuster's re-
ma rks a bout Lockyer's exclusion were d a ted 3 April 1 9 1 1 , well a fter the d a te of
the questionna ire, 7 November 1 9 1 0 , a nd the d a tes of response of severa l
Europea n a stronomers. B ut Lockyer ma y simply ha ve refused to respond from
a nnoya nce a t not ha ving a ha nd in the initia l proceed ings. Wha tever the rea son,
his voice wa s not hea rd , a nd the fa te of his system of cla ssifica tion wa s
sea led . R. H. Curtiss noted in his importa nt review of cla ssifica tion systems in
the la te 1 9 20 s tha t "Lockyer's cla ssifica tion a s such ha s been jud ged too
ha rshly. "38 Curtiss conclud ed tha t the d emise of Lockyer's system wa s "la rgely
beca use of its a ssocia tion with stra nge nomencla ture a nd untena ble theories. "
B ut to this should be a d d ed Lockyer's effective exclusion from the process of
the committee. Unlike Lockyer, Pickering wa s a t the center of the proceed ings.
T he wa y he gra sped lea d ership left little d oubt tha t his system would be strongly
fa vored .
Once Pickering convened the committee, his d ia ry record s, Ad a ms spoke first
a nd strongly end orsed the Dra per cla ssifica tion, a nd the others a greed : "As
much to my surprise a s tha t of the others, pra ctica lly everyone a pproved of our
system, so tha t instea d of a n a ttempt to repla ce it, it received the strongest
37Arthur Schuster to Pickering, 3 Apr. 1 9 1 1 , HUA, Ha rva rd College Observa tory, d irector's
files.
38Curtiss, "Cla ssifica tion," p. 25.
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ASENSE OF COMMUNI T Y I N AST ROPHYSI CS 45
end orsement I could ha ve d esired . " 39 T he committee then settled d own to pla n
how to solicit the opinions of a la rger sa mple of a stronomers.
T he rema ind er of the Sola r Union meetings includ ed ba nquets a nd tours of
Western observa tories. T he return trip went much a s the one to Ca lifornia .
Most of Pickering's time a nd effort wa s spent on committee work, but this time
with the committee on cla ssifica tion, for which he met prima rily with Russell
a nd Schlesinger. At these meetings, which sometimes includ ed A. L. Cortie, a
d eta iled circula r letter a nd a questionna ire were d ra fted for d istribution to a s-
tronomers involved in cla ssifica tion work. Letter a nd questionna ire were even-
tua lly published in 1 9 1 1 , a long with a n introd uctory sta tement by Schlesinger
a nd the replies of the a stronomers polled . 40
B oth the circula r letter a nd Schlesinger's introd uction to it recounted wha t
ha d tra nspired a t the initia l committee meeting. His introd uction clea rly sta ted
tha t there were three d istinct choices for a cla ssifica tion system: the Dra per
cla ssifica tion, Antonia Ma ury's cla ssifica tion, a nd Vogel's revised cla ssifica -
tion. He a lso noted tha t the systems of Secchi, Lockyer, a nd McClea n still
enjoyed some use. T he circula r letter itself, d a ted 7 November 1 9 1 0 , gives
a d d itiona l importa nt d eta ils on the initia l committee meeting. Specifica lly,
Newa ll felt tha t stella r evolution should be a d irect concern of the
committee,
a nd ma ny members a greed with this, but held to the immed ia te problem: the
esta blishment of a uniform system of cla ssifica tion. Russell, Ha rtma nn, Ka p-
teyn, a nd Schlesinger urged tha t "no
evolutiona ry
ba sis for a cla ssifica tion be
a d opted a t the present time. " B esid es d ecid ing whether to includ e the role of
evolution, committee members voiced four genera l opinions: Ad a ms, Kustner,
Pla skett, a nd Schlesinger preferred the Dra per cla ssifica tion, without mod ifica -
tion; Ha rtma nn, Russell, a nd others preferred the Dra per cla ssifica tion but
with mod ifica tions, ma inly to id entify va ria tions in line strengths; Schwa rzschild
a nd Russell proposed repla cing the Dra per cla ssifica tion with a numerica l
system-the la tter a sking only tha t the Dra per letters be repla ced , a nd the
former tha t some system ba sed upon color ind ices be d evised ; Frost a rgued tha t
no opinions should be voiced until the genera l questionna ire ha d been sent out
a nd returned .
T HE QUEST I ONNAI RE
On the homebound tra in Pickering, Schlesinger, Russell, a nd Cortie d evised
five genera l questions out of these opinions. T he resulta nt questionna ire wa s
incorpora ted into Schlesinger's circula r letter. I n a bstra ct, they rea d a s follows:
1 . T he Dra per Cla ssifica tion ha s been proposed a s the most useful by the
committee, d o you a gree? I f not, wha t system d o you prefer?
2. Wha t objections d o you ha ve to the Dra per Cla ssifica tion, a nd wha t
mod ifica tions a re necessa ry?
3. Should a ny system be a d opted forma lly a t this time? I f not, wha t work ha s
to be d one before universa l a d option ca n be ma d e?
4. Should some specific nota tion be includ ed to ind ica te the wid ths of spec-
tra l lines, a s in Ma ury's Cla ssifica tion?
5. Wha t other criteria for cla ssifica tion a re need ed ?
39 Pickering, "Dia ry," pp. 8-9 .
40 Fra nk Schlesinger, Astrophys. J. , 1 9 1 1 , 33:262.
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46 DAVI D H. DEVORKI N
Of the twenty-eight respond ents to the questionna ire-nea rly a ll, Schlesinger
noted , to whom letters were a d d ressed -fifteen were America ns, two were
from Engla nd , seven from Germa ny, two from South Africa , a nd one ea ch from
Ca na d a a nd Fra nce. Four respond ents were from Ha rva rd , a nd , except for one
or two, the rema ind er of the America ns were involved with Yerkes, Mount
Wilson, or Lick. Most certa inly this list wa s prepa red by those on the home-
bound tra in, but no record of their ra tiona le for choosing the recipients of the
questionna ire ha s been found . 41
All of the America ns a nd a lmost everyone else a greed tha t the Dra per
cla ssifica tion wa s the preferred choice, but of these only nine people a nswered
Question 3 to the effect tha t the Dra per cla ssifica tion should be a d opted
forma lly a s the universa l system. T here wa s no obvious na tiona l split on this
question, since six America ns, includ ing Pickering a nd Annie Ca nnon, d is-
sented . Only one person objected d irectly to the Dra per cla ssifica tion, a nd tha t
wa s Scheiner. B ut severa l d id not a nswer Questions 1 , 2, a nd 3 d irectly enough
to a llow for a n a ssessment. Sixteen, in a nswer to Question 4, expressed a belief
tha t some criterion to id entify line wid ths or line cha ra cter should be includ ed ,
a nd only four people a nswered d efinitely tha t no criterion wa s need ed .
Objections a nd suggested mod ifica tions to the Dra per cla ssifica tion, in res-
ponse to Question 2, includ ed the following: it need ed more resolution a mong the
cla sses; la ter cla sses should be subd ivid ed ; the system should be ma d e entirely
empirica l; photogra phs of the spectra were need ed for compa rison; numerica l
subd ivisions were necessa ry; a nd evolution should be a consid era tion.
T he second a nd la st two suggestions were the most frequently d iscussed in
response to Question 5, suggestions for other criteria ; Questions 2, 4, a nd 5
were somewha t red und a nt d ue to the obvious bia s of the questionna ire for the
Dra per cla ssifica tion. T he importa nt fa ct is tha t respond ents rela ted the neces-
sity of includ ing subd ivisions to the question of the role of stella r evolution.
Hertzsprung ha d recently shown, a nd Russell ha d confirmed , tha t while the two
d istinct subd ivisions id entified by Ma ury showed simila r genera l spectra l cha r-
a cteristics, they represented sta rs of va stly d ifferent intrinsic brightness. T hese
two luminosity cla sses, tod a y referred to a s gia nts a nd d wa rfs, represented res-
pectively the ea rliest sta ges a nd the la test sta ges of evolution in Russell's
revision of Lockyer's evolutiona ry scheme. T hus, if Russell wa s right the sub-
d ivisions id entified by Ma ury were very necessa ry. B ut in 1 9 1 0 a nd 1 9 1 1
Russell's work wa s too new to be a ccepted ; he ha d just presented it a t the
August 1 9 1 0 meetings a t Ha rva rd a nd d id not d evelop it fully until 1 9 1 3.
Nonetheless seven of the respond ents noted tha t evolution wa s a problem to be
contend ed with, a nd six rela ted this problem to the need to stud y further-a nd
eventua lly incorpora te into cla ssifica tion-luminosity effects in spectra . Severa l
yea rs la ter a t Mount Wilson W. S. Ad a ms a nd A. Kohlschutter d eveloped such
luminosity criteria a nd esta blished tha t gia nts a nd d wa rfs existed .
Anumber of respond ents wa nted linea r numerica l subd ivisions for grea ter
resolution of the Dra per a lpha betica l cla sses. Ca nnon ha d a lrea d y d eveloped
linea r subd ivisions, but the number need ed , a nd how they were to be incor-
41 T o specula te upon why-like Lockyer-Fowler, Ka yser, Ma und er, a nd others d id not
respond would be useless beca use we d o not know d efinitely tha t they were conta cted . I t is
equa lly impossible a t this time to d etermine why severa l people on the origina l committee,
includ ing Ha le, Ka pteyn, a nd Newa ll, d id not respond to the questionna ire.
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ASENSE OF COMMUNI T Y I N AST ROPHYSI CS 47
pora ted into the nota tion, wa s still und ecid ed . Fina lly, severa l respond ents,
includ ing Scheiner, noted the need to employ high-qua lity slit spectra in a ny
fund a menta l cla ssifica tion. As we ha ve noted , Pickering wa s a lrea d y well on his
wa y to a ccommod a ting this refinement.
EPI LOGUE
I n prepa ra tion for the 1 9 1 3 B onn meetings of the Sola r Union, Schlesinger
prepa red a synopsis of a ll responses to the questionna ire, includ ing those
a rriving throughout 1 9 1 1 . He d istributed the synopsis, together with the pro-
posa ls to the Sola r Union ba sed upon it, in a second circula r letter sta ting
the fina l conclusion of the committee: "the preference for the Dra per cla ssifica -
tion is nea rly una nimous, but . . . the genera l feeling a mong investiga tors is
opposed to the a d option a t the present time of a ny system a s a perma nent one. "42
T he executive committee (Schlesinger a nd Pickering) ha d therefore d ra fted two
resolutions for submission a t the B onn meetings: first, tha t the committee
a cquire observa tiona l ma teria l necessa ry for the a d option of a universa lly a c-
cepted a nd perma nent system; a nd second , tha t while this wa s in progress, the
Dra per cla ssifica tion be used a s d efined in Volume 56 of Ha rva rd Anna ls, with
only very minor mod ifica tions.
Most members of the committee fa vored the resolutions a nd felt tha t the
ma tter ha d been d ea lt with completely a nd correctly, or so Ha le lea rned
through the gra pevine by Ma y. T here wa s little further a ctivity in the com-
mittee: just before the B onn meetings Schlesinger d istributed a ha sty question-
na ire a sking for comments on the most pressing problems in la bora tory spec-
troscopy, to a id spectra l cla ssifica tion.
T he T ra nsa ctions of the Sola r Union meetings a t B onn record ed tha t the
recommend a tions of the committee were pa ssed una nimously a nd without com-
ment. Atrue sense of a ccord seemed to ha ve fina lly come a bout, ironica lly a t
the threshold of the First World Wa r, which wa s to become the severest test of
interna tiona l scientific coopera tion tha t Ha le a nd his still young Union were
ever to meet. 43
CONCLUSI ONS
I t took just over fifty yea rs for a consensus to a ppea r on cla ssifica tion. During
these fifty yea rs a strophysics grew from being little more tha n a novelty for
ma ny cla ssica l nineteenth-century a stronomers to wha t wa s ha iled a s the "New
Astronomy"-the revolutiona ry stud y of the physics of the sun a nd the sta rs.
B ut this period a lso sa w the rise of the interna tiona l scientific society, a nd
a stronomy pa rticipa ted fully in this phenomenon. T hrough the la tter pa rt of the
nineteenth a nd the beginning of the twentieth centuries, a ssocia tions tha t crea ted
the Astronomische Gesellscha ft, sta nd a rd time, the Ca rte d u ciel, the Sola r
Union, a nd Ka pteyn's Pla n of Selected Area s brought the world 's a stronomers
42Fra nk Schlesinger to Ha le, 1 8 Dec. 1 9 1 2; Schlesinger to Wa lter S. Ad a ms, 1 9 Dec. 1 9 1 2, Ha le
Pa pers.
43See Da niel Kevles, "George Ellery Ha le, the First World Wa r, a nd the Ad va ncement of
Science in America ," I sis, 1 9 68, 59 :427-429 ; Kevles, "I nto Hostile Politica l Ca mps: T he Reorga ni-
za tion of I nterna tiona l Science in World Wa r I ," I sis, 1 9 71 , 62:47-60 ; Ed win Frost, An Astron-
omer's Life, p. 1 48.
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48 DAVI D H. DEVORKI N
together in d iscussion a nd d eba te. T his continued conta ct a nd the expa nd ed
scope of the Sola r Union crea ted the forum in which cla ssifica tion could be
exa mined a nd a nomencla ture a greed upon.
T he consensus a chieved on cla ssifica tion is significa nt beca use for the first
time a greement wa s rea ched on nomencla ture tha t ha d a lwa ys possessed con-
ceptua l significa nce. T his tra it sets cla ssifica tion a pa rt from a greements on the
systemiza tion of ma gnitud e systems, wa velength sta nd a rd s, a nd the like. I t is
curious tha t the first sta ge of consensus, a rising out of the 1 9 1 0 Sola r Union
meetings, wa s ma d e a t a time when the conceptua l ba sis of most cla ssifica tions
stella r evolution-wa s very much in d oubt. Evolution clea rly ma ttered , but
since its own cha ra cter wa s still und ecid ed , its role in cla ssifica tion wa s uncer-
ta in. Almost a ll a stronomers nevertheless a greed tha t one cla ssifica tion wa s
need ed , wha tever might be the course of stella r evolution, a nd tha t the cla ssi-
fica tion to choose wa s Pickering's. T ha t his Dra per cla ssifica tion wa s the one
a d opted , when it wa s becoming quite clea r tha t it d id not provid e a n una m-
biguous cla ssifica tion of gia nt a nd d wa rf sta rs, wa s the result of severa l other
fa ctors: the va st bulk of the sta rs cla ssified in the system; the complexity of the
system-intermed ia te between the simplest systems (Secchi a nd Vogel) a nd the
most involved systems (Ma ury, Lockyer); the a ppa rent neutra lity of the system
rega rd ing one or a nother scheme of stella r evolution; the physica l significa nce
of the system a s a tempera ture sequence; the circumsta nces a fford ing Pickering
a ma jor role in the d evelopment of the consensus itself.
T he la st fa ctor wa s a s much the prod uct of Ha le's efforts a s of Pickering's,
though there certa inly is no evid ence tha t Ha le orchestra ted the meetings in
Ca mbrid ge, the tra in west, a nd the Sola r Union meetings with the hope tha t
they would help esta blish Pickering's cla ssifica tion. I t is of course d ifficult to
conjecture how Pickering's cla ssifica tion would ha ve fa red und er d ifferent
politica l circumsta nces. I n 1 9 1 0 the focus of the interna tiona l community,
ma inly beca use of Ha le's efforts in the Sola r Union a nd the ra pid ly increa sing
influence of his Astrophysica l Journa l, wa s quickly shifting to the United Sta tes.
I f the focus ha d rema ined in Europe, where it ha d been in the 1 880 s, then the
fa te of a n America n system of cla ssifica tion might ha ve been the sa me a s the
fa te of Pickering's suggestions to the 1 887 Ca rte d u ciel Conference on how to
proceed in technique a nd instrumenta tion: a ll his suggestions were turned
d own, though they were recognized to be of grea t va lue. 44
I n the intervening yea rs Pickering's fa me a nd influence grew, not only be-
ca use his scientific a ccomplishments were impressive, but beca use he sha red the
fruits of the la bors of his observa tory, in unpublished form, with a stronomers a t
other observa tories. He a lso worked to crea te a world wid e genera l fund for
a stronomica l resea rch tha t, while it d rew criticism, d id benefit ma ny projects. 45
While Pickering's fund ing efforts never rea ched the proportions of Ha le's
progra ms, they must be rega rd ed a s a n importa nt element in the d evelopment
44T urner, Sta r Ma p, pp. 23-24; B . Z. Jones a nd L. G. B oyd , T he Ha rva rd College Observa tory
(Ca mbrid ge: Ha rva rd University Press, 1 9 71 ), pp. 20 8-21 0 .
45Withthe d ona tion of $60 0 0 by Ca therine W. B ruce in 1 89 0 Pickering wa s a ble to initia te his
pla n in tha t yea r. From 86 a pplica tions for fund s, 1 5 requests were honored , includ ing 5 from
America ns, 7 from Europea ns, a nd 3 from B ritisha stronomers. See Ed wa rd Cha rles Pickering, "A
Pla n for the End owment of Astronomica l Resea rch" (Ca mbrid ge: Ha rva rd College Observa tory,
1 9 0 3), pp. 6-7, reprinted in Science, 1 9 0 3, N. S. 1 7:721 -729 ; Howa rd Plotkin, "Ed wa rd Cha rles
Pickering a nd the End owment of Scientific Resea rchin America , 1 877-1 9 1 8," I sis, 1 9 78, 69 :44-57;
Jones a nd B oyd , Ha rva rd College Observa tory, p. 420 .
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ASENSE OF COMMUNI T Y I N AST ROPHYSI CS 49
of his interna tiona l sta ture a nd influence, especia lly when a d d ed to his well-
rega rd ed scientific generosity. B ut if politica l fa vor wa s a fa ctor in a d opting his
cla ssifica tion, it wa s a wea k one.
More significa nt tha n the ord er of fa ctors fa voring Pickering's system is tha t a
community of opinion ha d been esta blished by 1 9 1 0 a nd tha t a mecha nism for
reviewing tha t opinion wa s in force. I n 1 9 1 3 the proposa ls of the committee
were ra tified , a nd the Dra per cla ssifica tion wa s a d opted universa lly, though
subject to mod ifica tion a s the need a rose. 46 T he forum through which the
Dra per cla ssifica tion a chieved this recognition, the I nterna tiona l Union for
Coopera tion in Sola r Resea rch, rea ched its own ultima te d evelopment in 1 9 1 9
when it wa s united with the Astrogra phic Cha rt Conference to form the I nter-
na tiona l Astronomica l Union. 47 When mod ifica tions to the Dra per cla ssifi-
ca tion were introd uced , it wa s recognized without question tha t the Union wa s
the a ppropria te orga niza tion through which to ra tify them.
46Ma ury's subd ivisions were pa rtia lly reinsta ted a t the 1 9 22 Genera l Assembly of the I nter-
na tiona l Astronomica l Union, d uring the yea rs when Russell's theory of stella r evolution wa s
enjoying its wid est a ccepta nce. See Jones a nd B oyd , Ha rva rd College Observa tory, p. 242.
47Wa lter Syd ney Ad a ms, "T he History of the I nterna tiona l Astronomica l Union," Publica tions
of the Astronomica l Society of the Pa cific, 1 9 49 , 6:5-1 2, on p. 9 . See a lso F. J. M. Stra tton,
"I nterna tiona l Coopera tion in Astronomy: ACha pter of Astronomica l History," Mon. Notices
Roy. Astron. Soc. , 1 9 34, 9 4:361 -372.
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