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Last edited by Clean Up Bot
March 31, 2017 | History

Donald Howard Menzel

April 11, 1901 - December 14, 1976


Born in Florence, Colorado, Menzel was a very good student, especially interested in mathematics and science. He learned to read very early, learned Morse code from his father, collected ore specimen, became an amateur radio operator, built up a large home chemistry lab, was an Eagle Scout, and learned Spanish. [1]

At 16 years old, Menzel enrolled at the University of Colorado to study chemistry. However, observing the solar eclipse of June 8, 1918 led him to change his course of study to astronomy. Menzel earned an internship at Princeton University, and spent summer vacations at Harvard University as a research assistant to Harlow Shapley.

Menzel studied at the University of Denver and received his Ph.D. from Princeton. After earning his Ph.D. in 1924, Menzel taught at the University of Iowa and Ohio State University before being hired as assistant astronomer at the Lick Observatory in California in 1926. Menzel was among the first theoretical astrophysicists in the world. He worked at Lick Observatory until 1932 when he accepted a position at Harvard. From 1954-56 he was President of the American Astronomical Society. From 1964 to his death, Menzel was a U.S. State Department consultant for Latin American affairs.

He began teaching at Harvard in 1932, and earned full professorship in 1938; in 1952 he was appointed acting director of the Harvard Observatory, and was the full director from 1954 to 1966, when the observatory became an international center of radio astronomy. He retired from Harvard in 1971.

Menzel initially performed solar research, but later concentrated on studying gaseous nebulae. His work with Lawrence Aller and James Gilbert Baker defined many of the fundamental principles of the study of planetary nebulae.

He wrote A Field Guide to the Stars and Planets, part of the Peterson Field Guides.

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History Created April 1, 2008 · 9 revisions
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March 31, 2017 Edited by Clean Up Bot add VIAF and wikidata ID
December 13, 2010 Edited by Franklin Davis Edited without comment.
December 13, 2010 Edited by Franklin Davis Edited without comment.
December 13, 2010 Edited by Franklin Davis I am his grandson; added bio from Wikipedia. Will add more in future.
April 1, 2008 Created by an anonymous user initial import