Sunday, September 13, 2009

September 13: Horace W. Babcock

Horace Welcome Babcock
September 13, 1912 – August 29, 2003

Horace Babcock was an American astronomer. He was the son of Harold D. Babcock.

He invented and built a number of astronomical instruments, and in 1953 was the first to propose the idea of adaptive optics. He specialized in spectroscopy and the study of magnetic fields of stars. He proposed the Babcock Model, a theory for the magnetism of sunspots.

During World War II, he was engaged in radiation work at MIT and Caltech. After the war he began a productive collaboration with his father.

Babcock was awarded the Henry Draper Medal (1957), the Eddington Medal (1958), the Bruce Medal (1969), the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1970) and the George Ellery Hale Prize of the American Astronomical Society Solar Physics Division (1992)

The asteroid 3167 Babcock is named jointly for Horace and his father. The Babcock crater on the Moon is named only for his father.

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