Owen Jay Gingerich (b. 1930)
Owen Gingerich is professor for astronomy and the history of astronomy at
Harvard University; in 1992-93 he chaired Harvard's History of Science
Department. His research included solar and stellar atmosphere astronomy,
and concentrated on the history of astronomy; he has published numerous papers
and books, and has served in several professional societies.
In the 1950s, Owen Gingerich did some reseach on
Charles Messier's life and the
In particular, he found notes by Messier on two
additional Messier Objects, discovered by
Pierre Méchain, which he added to the
Messier Catalog: M108 (NGC 3556) and
M109 (NGC 3992). He also investigated the
missing Messier Objects:
He popularized the identifications of M47 and
M48 previously done by
T.F. Morris and
Oswald Thomas. In particular, he concluded
that M91 was probably a comet, and followed
Helen B. Sawyer Hogg in that
M102 was probably a duplication of M101.
The first of these conclusions was later dismissed as
W.C. Williams brought up evidence that M91 is
probably NGC 4548, while the second is still
open (M102 may be NGC 5866).
Honors for Owen Gingerich include a number of awards for his research and
excellence in teaching, and in particular the naming of an asteroid after him:
(2658) Gingerich = 1980 CK, discovered February 13, 1980 at Harvard Observatory,
and identical with prediscovery sightings 1932 HH = 1959 JO = 1975 JK.
- Owen Gingerich's investigations of Messier's Catalog:
These articles have been republished in Mallas and Kreimer's
- Owen Gingerich, 1960.
Abbe Lacaille's List of Clusters and Nebulae.
Sky and Telescope, Volume 19, No. 2 (February 1960) pp. 207-208
- Owen Gingerich, 1967.
Messier's Clusters and Nebulae.
Astronomical Society of the Pacific Leaflets, Vol. 10, No. 460, pp. 73-80
- John Mallas and Evered
The Messier Album.
Sky Publishing Corporation, Cambridge, MA.
- Owen Gingerich, 1987.
The Mysterious Nebulae - 1610-1924.
RASC Journal, Vol. 81, No. 4, pp. 113-127 (08/1987)
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