The Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, F. Jamil Ragep, JoAnn Palmeri, Marvin Bolt

Menzel, Donald Howard

  • Thomas J. Bogdan
Reference work entry

BornFlorence, Colorado, USA, 11 April 1901

DiedBoston, Massachusetts, USA, 14 December 1976

Donald Menzel combined astronomy and atomic physics to revolutionize our understanding of the physics of the Sun and gaseous nebulae. He founded three observatories and brought the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to Harvard College Observatory to enrich the scientific cultures of both institutions.

Menzel, the son of Charles Theodor and Ina Grace (néeZint) Menzel, was raised in Leadville and Denver, Colorado. In Leadville, his father worked as a telegrapher, clerk, and ticket salesman before becoming the proprietor of the city's largest general store. By 1916, the financial success of the store allowed Charles to retire, and the family moved to Denver, where Donald completed high school. As a schoolboy Menzel pursued numerous hobbies, suggested by his insatiable scientific curiosity. These in turn provided an outlet for an almost boundless energy that was to characterize his entire...

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access

Selected References

  1. Anon. (2002). “Donald. H. Menzel Centennial. Symposium.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 33. (This entire issue is devoted to papers presented at a centennial symposium in honor of Menzel in May 2001. Includes papers by Thomas J. Bogdan, David DeVorkin, Owen Gingerich, David Layzer, Ruth P. Liebowitz, Donald E. Osterbrock, and Jay Pasachoff.)Google Scholar
  2. Goldberg, Leo and Lawrence H. Aller (1991). “Donald Howard Menzel.” Biographical Memoirs, National Academy of Sciences 60: 149–167.Google Scholar
  3. Hoffleit, Dorrit (2002). Misfortunes as Blessings in Disguise: The Story of My Life. pp. 62–69. Cambridge, Massachusetts: American Associations of Variable Star Observers.Google Scholar
  4. Menzel, Donald H. (1931). “A Study of the Solar Chromosphere.” Publications of the Lick Observatory 17, pt. 1: 1–303.Google Scholar
  5. Menzel, Donald H. and Leo Goldberg (1936). “Multiplet Strengths for Transitions Involving Equivalent Electrons.” Astrophysical Journal 84: 1–10.ADSGoogle Scholar
  6. Menzel, Donald H. and Chaim L. Pekeris (1935). “Absorption Coefficients and Hydrogen Line Intensities.” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 96: 77–111.MATHADSGoogle Scholar
  7. Osterbrock, Donald E. (2001). “Herman Zanstra, Donald H. Menzel, and the Zanstra Method of Nebular Astrophysics.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 32: 93–108.ADSGoogle Scholar
  8. Robinson, Leif J. (1990). “Enterprise at Harvard College Observatory.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 21: 89–103.ADSGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thomas J. Bogdan

There are no affiliations available