Date: 03 Sep 2014

Eckert, Wallace John

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BornPittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA, 19 June 1902

DiedEnglewood, New Jersey, USA, 24 August 1971

American celestial mechanician Wallace Eckert pioneered the application of punch-card computing machines to problems of astronomical orbit determinations. He was the son of farmers John and Anna (Née Heil) Eckert, and received degrees from Oberlin College (AB: 1925), Amherst College (AM: 1926), and Yale University (Ph.D. in astronomy: 1931, with a thesis on the orbit of Trojan-type minor planet (624) Hektor, completed under Ernest Brown). From 1926 to 1940 Eckert served on the astronomy department faculty of Columbia University, rising to the level of professor of celestial mechanics. He spent his last 2 professional years, 1968–1969, at Yale University, and throughout his career was particularly generous in providing computational facilities for the astronomers at Yale University working on planetary, asteroid, and satellite orbits.

In 1933, Eckert worked on developing a punch-card accounting m ...