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Olin C. Wilson Papers: Finding Aid
mssWilson papers  
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This collection deals primarily with the professional activities of Olin C. Wilson (1909-1994), an astronomer at the Mount Wilson Observatory, who was most active from the mid-1930s into the 1980s.
Olin Chaddock Wilson, Jr. was born in 1909, and joined the Mount Wilson Observatory in 1931 as a research assistant, and in 1936 became a staff member. He spent his entire professional career at Mt. Wilson. Wilson was educated as an undergraduate at the University of California and in 1934, received the first Ph.D. in Astronomy awarded by the California Institute of Technology, studying under Paul Merrill (whose papers are also held by the Huntington Library). Wilson's professional work was devoted to various phases of spectroscopy, including the stellar radial velocity program, various investigations of stellar atmospheres and interstellar material, Wolf-Rayet stars, planetary nebulae, and stellar chromospheres. By intensive analysis of the H and K lines of ionized calcium he showed that other stars besides the sun have cycles of activity. With M. K. Vainu Bappu, he found a means of determining luminosity, and thus distance, of stars from the widths of these two lines. Wilson started the HK Project, which continues to use Mt. Wilson telescopes to monitor a number of nearby stars in search of starspot cycles. He also investigated spectra of nebulae and eclipsing stars. In 1960, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. He was also elected a member of the Division of Physical Sciences of the National Research Council, and a member of the U.S.A. National Committee of the International Astronomical Union. After his retirement in 1974, he continued his professional work as a Staff Member Emeritus of the Mount Wilson and Las Campanas Observatories. In 1984 he was awarded the Bruce Medal, an award for lifetime achievement in astronomy given by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific.
4,372 pieces in 34 boxes.
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