Reference Work Entry

Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

pp 1030-1031


Humphreys, William Jackson

BornGap Mills, Virginia, USA, 3 February 1862

DiedWashington, District of Columbia USA, 10 November 1949

American physicist and meteorologist William Humphreys made laboratory measurements of the effects of gas pressure on the wavelengths and widths of absorption lines produced by common elements, which permitted estimates of the pressure, and therefore the location of the layer of the Sun’s atmosphere responsible for its absorption lines. The son of Andrew Jackson Humphreys and Eliza Ann (née Eads) Humphreys was born and raised in a rural setting. He attended the local public school and a high school in Pomeroy, Ohio. After studying at Washington University and Lee University in Lexington, Virginia, Humphreys earned his BA in 1886 and a degree in mechanical engineering 2 years later. For the next 5 years, 1889–1894, he taught physics at Miller school near Crozet, Virginia, and at Washington College, Chestertown, Maryland, later pursuing advanced study in physics and chemistry at the Uni ...

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