The Future of Astronomy by Edward C. Pickering


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Project Gutenberg's The Future of Astronomy, by Edward C. Pickering

This eBook is for the use of anyone anywhere at no cost and with
almost no restrictions whatsoever. You may copy it, give it away or
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with this eBook or online at www.gutenberg.net


Title: The Future of Astronomy

Author: Edward C. Pickering

Release Date: April 17, 2005 [EBook #15636]

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

*** START OF THIS PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK THE FUTURE OF ASTRONOMY ***




Produced by Susan Skinner and the Online Distributed Proofreading

nationale de France (BnF/Gallica) at http://gallica.bnf.fr











THE FUTURE OF ASTRONOMY

BY PROFESSOR EDWARD C. PICKERING

Reprinted from the POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY, August, 1909.




THE FUTURE OF ASTRONOMY[1]

BY PROFESSOR EDWARD C. PICKERING

HARVARD COLLEGE OBSERVATORY


It is claimed by astronomers that their science is not only the oldest,
but that it is the most highly developed of the sciences. Indeed it
should be so, since no other science has ever received such support from
royalty, from the state and from the private individual. However this
may be, there is no doubt that in recent years astronomers have had
granted to them greater opportunities for carrying on large pieces of
work than have been entrusted to men in any other department of pure
science. One might expect that the practical results of a science like
physics would appeal to the man who has made a vast fortune through some
of its applications. The telephone, the electric transmission of power,
wireless telegraphy and the submarine cable are instances of immense
financial returns derived from the most abstruse principles of physics.
Yet there are scarcely any physical laboratories devoted to research, or
endowed with independent funds for this object, except those supported
by the government. The endowment of astronomical observatories devoted
to research, and not including that given for teaching, is estimated to
amount to half a million dollars annually. Several of the larger
observatories have an annual income of fifty thousand dollars.

[1] Commencement address at Case School of Applied Science, Cleveland,
May 27, 1909.

I once asked the wisest man I know, what was the reason for this
difference. He said that it was probably because astronomy appealed to
the imagination. A practical man, who has spent all his life in his
counting room or mill, is sometimes deeply impressed with the vast
distances and grandeur of the problems of astronomy, and the very
remoteness and difficulty of studying the stars attract him.

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