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Harlan Smith

Academy of Achievement

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Harlan Smith
Harlan Smith

Harlan Smith

Academy of Achievement

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The astronomer Harlan Smith Ph.D. (1924 - 1991), longtime Director of the McDonald Observatory of the University of Texas, was distinguished for his discovery of the optical variability of small, quasi-stellar objects, and for his efforts to share the wonders of the cosmos with the general public. Smith was born in Wheeling, West Virginia. An outstanding student with a passion for astronomy, he was runner-up in the first Westinghouse National Science Talent Search. After serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, he enrolled at Harvard, where he received his Ph.D. in astronomy. In 1953 he joined the astronomy faculty of Yale University. He moved to the University of Texas in 1963 to direct the McDonald Observatory and chair the University's astronomy department. He oversaw a great expansion of the department, acquiring a massive 2.7-meter telescope, known today as the Harlan Smith Telescope, for the Observatory. In the 1980s, Smith devoted much of his energy to designing a 7.6-meter telescope, nicknamed the Eye of Texas, which would have been the world's largest. The collapse of the Texas economy in 1985 brought an end to this project, but Smith's research contributed to the development of a super-telescope in Japan, and finally to the completion of an even larger (8.5-meter) Spectroscopic Survey Scope at McDonald. In this audio podcast, recorded at the Academy of Achievement's 1981 Summit in Dallas, Texas, Dr. Smith discusses his efforts to build large telescopes and their importance to our understanding of the universe.

Latest Episodes

Harlan Smith

The astronomer Harlan Smith Ph.D. (1924 - 1991), longtime Director of the McDonald Observatory of the University of Texas, was distinguished for his discovery of the optical variability of small, quasi-stellar objects, and for his efforts to share the wonders of the cosmos with the general public. Smith was born in Wheeling, West Virginia. An outstanding student with a passion for astronomy, he was runner-up in the first Westinghouse National Science Talent Search. After serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, he enrolled at Harvard, where he received his Ph.D. in astronomy. In 1953 he joined the astronomy faculty of Yale University. He moved to the University of Texas in 1963 to direct the McDonald Observatory and chair the University's astronomy department. He oversaw a great expansion of the department, acquiring a massive 2.7-meter telescope, known today as the Harlan Smith Telescope, for the Observatory. In the 1980s, Smith devoted much of his energy to designin...

15 MIN1981 JUN 27
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Harlan Smith
the END

Latest Episodes

Harlan Smith

The astronomer Harlan Smith Ph.D. (1924 - 1991), longtime Director of the McDonald Observatory of the University of Texas, was distinguished for his discovery of the optical variability of small, quasi-stellar objects, and for his efforts to share the wonders of the cosmos with the general public. Smith was born in Wheeling, West Virginia. An outstanding student with a passion for astronomy, he was runner-up in the first Westinghouse National Science Talent Search. After serving in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II, he enrolled at Harvard, where he received his Ph.D. in astronomy. In 1953 he joined the astronomy faculty of Yale University. He moved to the University of Texas in 1963 to direct the McDonald Observatory and chair the University's astronomy department. He oversaw a great expansion of the department, acquiring a massive 2.7-meter telescope, known today as the Harlan Smith Telescope, for the Observatory. In the 1980s, Smith devoted much of his energy to designin...

15 MIN1981 JUN 27
Comments
Harlan Smith
the END

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