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Horace W. Babcock

AKA Horace Welcome Babcock

Born: 13-Sep-1912
Birthplace: Pasadena, CA
Died: 29-Aug-2003
Location of death: Santa Barbara, CA
Cause of death: unspecified

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Astronomer

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Adaptive optics and the Babcock Model

In the early 1950s, Horace W. Babcock was the first astrophysicist to propose adaptive optics, a methodology that provides real-time corrections for atmospheric disturbances of wavefronts. In 1961 he offered a qualitative model to explain the dynamics of the outer layers of the sun, now known as the Babcock Model. Beginning in the early 1970s, he was among the first astronomers to address the challenge of urban glare, proposing construction of what became the Las Campanas Observatory in northern Chile, a location selected for its seclusion from light pollution. Working with his father, astronomer Harold D. Babcock, he invented the solar magnetograph, a scientific instrument that allowed measurement of magnetic fields on the surface of the sun to unprecedented precision.

Father: Harold D. Babcock (astronomer, b. 24-Jan-1882, d. 8-Apr-1968)
Mother: Mary Henderson Babcock (m. 1907)
Wife: Elizabeth Aubrey Babcock (three children)
Daughter: Ann Babcock
Son: Bruce Babcock
Son: Kenneth Babcock

    University: BS, California Institute of Technology (1934)
    University: PhD, University of California at Berkeley (1938)
    Scholar: Yerkes Observatory, University of Chicago
    Scholar: Massachusetts Institute of Technology
    Scholar: California Institute of Technology
    Scholar: Mt. Wilson Observatory (1946-64)
    Administrator: Director of Mt. Wilson Observatory (1964-78)
    Administrator: Director of Palomar Observatory, California Institute of Technology (1964-78)

    Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal 1970
    Bruce Medal 1969
    Eddington Medal 1958
    Henry Draper Medal 1957
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    American Astronomical Society
    American Philosophical Society
    National Academy of Sciences
    Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society
    Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society
    Asteroid Namesake 3167 Babcock (namesake shared with father)

Author of books:
The Rotation of the Andromeda Nebula (1939)
A Catalog of Magnetic Stars (1958)

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