Recent Acquisitions

[Vyssotsky] Williams, Emma T. R., et al. | The Fundamental Properties of the Galactic System.

  • First edition, first printing of this collection of eight papers from the New York Academy of Science’s conference on the Fundamental Properties of the Galactic System, held in New York on May 2nd and 3rd, 1941. One of the papers, “Mean Parallaxes from Peculiar Motions”, is by the prominent female astronomer Emma Vyssotsky (née Williams).

    This copy from the library of Allan R. Sandage, the most important astronomy and cosmologist of his generation, who determined the first reasonably accurate values for the Hubble Constant and the age of the universe. With the ownership initials of his wife, the astronomer Mary Connelly, who had studied at Indiana University and Racliffe, and was teaching at Mount Holyoke when they met (New York Times obituary, November 17, 2010).

    Vyssotsky (1894-1975) studied mathematics and astronomy as an undergraduate at Swarthmore, then researched A-type (young, energetic) stars from the Harvard Observatory for her Radcliffe Phd. While she was a postgraduate researcher at the University of Virginia’s McCormick Observatory she met and married fellow astronomy Alexander N. Vyssotsky. “She remained for the rest of her career at the University of Virginia, first as a research fellow and instructor in astronomy, and then, at age fifty, began to work with her husband on a book on stellar motions, published four years later” (Ogilvie, Biographical Dictionary of Women in Science p. 1333).

    Vyssotsky and her husband studied “stellar parallaxes by applying trigonometric functions to observations made on multiple photographic exposures. They discovered many of these parallaxes by attaching a special objective prism to the observatory's astrograph. Their research led to accurate calculations of stellar motions and the determination of the structure of galaxies” (Oakes, Encyclopedia of World Scientists). In 1946 Vyssotsky was awarded the American Astronomical Society’s Annie Jump Canon Award in Astronomy in recognition of her contributions to the field of stellar spectra.

    This volume also contains papers by Peter van de Kamp, Dirk Brouwer, W. J. Luyten, Jan Schilt, and Frederick Seares, among others. It was edited by astronomer Bart J. Bok, who met Sandage when he was an undergraduate and was influential in the direction his career took.

  • ...Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences Volume XLII, Art 2. Pages 113-272. New York: by the Academy, October 15, 1941.

    Octavo. Original tan wrappers printed in black. Charts and graphs within the text. Ownership initials in black ink to the upper wrapper. Some loss from the ends of the spine, wrappers rubbed and toned with few small marks and some mild creasing. Very good condition.