Date: 03 Sep 2014

Campbell, William Wallace

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BornHancock County, Ohio, USA, 11 April 1862

DiedSan Francisco, California, USA, 14 June 1938

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Campbell, William Wallace. Reproduced by permission of the Mary Lea Shane Archives of the Lick Observatory, University of California at Santa Cruz

William Campbell (Wallace to his friends), a spectroscopist and Lick Observatory director, designed spectrographs, measured a large number of radial velocities, and led a number of eclipse expeditions, one of which decisively confirmed the Albert Einstein deflection of starlight.

After a childhood of poverty and hard work on an Ohio farm, Campbell earned enough by teaching school to enter the University of Michigan as a civil engineering student. In his third year he discovered Simon Newcomb’s Popular Astronomy, and it changed his life. He devoured the book in 2 days and 2 nights and decided to become an astronomer. Professor John Schaeberle taught him to observe and to calculate comet orbits, activities that continued to command his interest for severa ...