Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 360-363


Campbell, William Wallace

  • Joseph S. TennAffiliated withDepartment of Physics & Astronomy, Sonoma State University Email author 

BornHancock County, Ohio, USA, 11 April 1862

DiedSan Francisco, California, USA, 14 June 1938

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 ...

This is an excerpt from the content