Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 1237-1238


Kopal, Zdeněk

  • Jiří GrygarAffiliated withInstitute of Physics, Czech Academy of Sciences Email author 

BornLitomysl (Czech Republic), 4 April 1914

DiedManchester, England, 23 June 1993

Czech-American-English astronomer Zdeněk Kopal is most often associated with studies of close binaries and their implications for the interior physics of stars and kinds of systems observed. A youthful enthusiastic amateur astronomer Kopal joined the Czech Astronomical Society in 1929 and became chair of its section on variable stars in 1931. He received a PhD summa cum laude in physics and mathematics at the Charles University of Prague (by then part of Czechoslovakia) in 1937; studied under Arthur Eddington in Cambridge, England, in 1938; and took an appointment at Harlow Shapley’s Harvard College Observatory at the end of that year. Kopal quickly became an American citizen and worked on ballistics for the United States Navy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during World War II, as well as contributing to the mathematics needed for the first generation of computers. In 1951 he became professor ...

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