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History of infrared telescopes and astronomy

Abstract

The first attempts to measure the infrared outputs of stars preceded by nearly a century the permanent establishment of infrared astronomy as an important aspect of the field. There were a number of false starts in that century, significant efforts that had little impact on the astronomical community at large. Why did these efforts fizzle out? What was different in the start that did not fizzle, in the 1960s? I suggest that the most important advances were the success of radio astronomy in demonstrating interesting phenomena outside of the optical regime, and the establishment virtually simultaneously in the United States of a number of research groups that could support each other and compete against one another in their approach to infrared astronomy.

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Acknowledgements

Preparation of this article was partially supported by contract 1255094 from Caltech/JPL and by contract NAG5-12318 from NASA/Goddard, both to the University of Arizona.

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Rieke, G.H. History of infrared telescopes and astronomy. Exp Astron 25, 125 (2009). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10686-009-9148-7

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Keywords

  • Infrared astronomy
  • History of astronomy