Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Todd, David

  • William M. IrvineEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_5086-3


David Peck Todd (1855–1939), Professor of Astronomy and Director of the Observatory at Amherst College (Massachusetts, USA) from 1881 to 1920, led 12 solar eclipse expeditions between 1878 and 1914 to all parts of the world; in 1882 the new Lick Observatory chose him to lead the observations of the transit of Venus. He has also been credited with “the first successful astronomical observation from an artificial platform above the Earth’s surface” by sketching Halley’s Comet from a balloon (Sagan and Druyan 1985) and with promoting the Chilean high deserts as excellent astronomical sites (Todd 1908).

He may be considered an early astrobiologist and SETI pioneer from his interest in the possibility of intelligent life on Mars. In 1907 Percival Lowell chose him to lead an expedition to South America to observe a favorable opposition of Mars, with the hope of verifying the “canals” that Lowell and others had reported and ascribed to a technical civilization. This involved...


Bioorganic Chemistry Technical Civilization Radio Transmission Solar Eclipse Astronomical Observation 
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References and Further Reading

  1. Dick SJ (1996) The biological universe: the twentieth-century extraterrestrial life debate and the limits of science. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
  2. Hudson CJ (1939) David Todd (1855–1939): an appreciation. Pop Astron 47:472–476ADSGoogle Scholar
  3. Sagan C, Druyan A (1985) Hurtling emissaries of the void. Discover, Nov:108–111Google Scholar
  4. Todd D (1908) Professor Todd’s own story of the Mars expedition. Cosmopolitan, Jan:343–351Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of AstronomyUniversity of MassachusettsAmherstUSA