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Published on Feb 6, 2014
Conference on Origins of the Expanding Universe: 1912-1932 Sep 14-15, 2012 - Lowell Observatory
Presentation 2.06 Joe Tenn What else did V.M. Slipher Do?
When V.M. Slipher gave the 1933 George Darwin lecture to the Royal Astronomical Society, it was natural that he spoke on spectrographic studies of planets. Less than one-sixth of his published work deals with globular clusters and the objects we now call galaxies. In his most productive years, when he had Percival Lowell to give him direction, Slipher made major discoveries regarding stars, galactic nebulae, and solar system objects. These included the first spectroscopic measurement of the rotation period of Uranus, evidence that Venus' rotation is very slow, the existence of reflection nebulae and hence interstellar dust, and the stationary lines that prove the existence of interstellar calcium and sodium. After Lowell's death in 1916 Slipher continued making spectroscopic observations of planets, comets, and the aurora and night sky. He directed the Lowell Observatory from 1916 to 1954, where his greatest achievements were keeping the observatory running despite very limited staff and budget, and initiating and supervising the "successful" search for Lowell's Planet X. However, he did little science in his last decades, spending most of his time and energy on business endeavors.