Guide to the William H. Wright papers

M. Carey
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz 95064

Contributing Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz
Title: William H. Wright papers
Creator: Wright, William Hammond, 1871-1959
Identifier/Call Number: MS.266
Physical Description: 1.6 Linear Feet 4 document boxes
Date (inclusive): 1894-1959
Abstract: This collection includes lecture notes and manuscripts.
Language of Material: English


Collection open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright for the items in this collection is owned by the creators and their heirs. Reproduction or distribution of any work protected by copyright beyond that allowed by fair use requires permission from the copyright owner. It is the responsibility of the user to determine whether a use is fair use, and to obtain any necessary permissions. For more information see UCSC Special Collections and Archives policy on Reproduction and Use.

Preferred Citation

William H. Wright papers. MS 266. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Acquisition Information

Gift of the Wright Family


William Hammond Wright (November 4, 1871 - May 16, 1959) was an American astronomer. He was director of the Lick Observatory from 1935 until 1942.
After graduating in 1893 from the University of California, he became Assistant Astronomer at Lick Observatory. From 1903 to 1906 he worked on establishing the "Southern Station" of the Observatory at Cerro San Cristobal near Santiago de Chile. It only took him 6 months to start with observations from this new site, and he recorded a large series of radial velocity measurements of stars in the southern sky. In 1908 he was promoted to Astronomer. From 1918 to 1919 he was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Ground working for the ordinance section of the United States Army. He then returned to the Lick Observatory and worked there until his retirement.
He is most famous for his work on radial velocity of stars in our galaxy, and his work with a spectrograph he designed himself. He obtained spectra of novas and nebulae. In 1924 he made photographic observations of Mars in multiple wave lengths. From these pictures he concluded that its atmosphere was about 60 miles (100 km) deep.
In 1928 he received the Henry Draper Medal, and in 1938 the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. A crater on Mars is named in his honor.
A more extensive biography can be found at University of California: In Memoriam, Index "W" 1960

Scope and Content of Collection

This collection contains some biographical material, private diaries, correspondence, notes and manuscripts of articles, lectures and books by Wright.

Processing Information

Processed by M. Carey March 2014. EAD encoded finding aid by M. Carey.

Related Materials

UA 36 Ser.6 Lick Observatory Records: Glass Plates

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Stars, New
Astrophysics -- United States -- History
Lick Observatory

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Biographical material

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Family genealogy, resumes, n.d.

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Military Service, 1916-1919

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Honors, awards, etc., 1917-1923

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National Academy of Sciences - Henry Draper Medal 1928

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"Orbit of Comet Swift, Nov. 1894 computed by Oppolzer's Method" Nov. 1894

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"Issac Newton's 2nd law", 1896

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"Hydrodynamics [ca. 1900-1902]" & "Santiago Diary 2/28/1903 - 5/13/1903", ca. 1900-1903

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"Private diary - Santiago, 6/13/1904 - 8/1/1904" 1904

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"Private diary - Return trip from Chile, 3/19/1906 - 3/27/1906" 1906

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"Account of Spectrographic Observations of Halley's Comet", 1909

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"Reply to Stratton Questions on Hydrogen Lines", 1912

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"The Relation between the Wolf-Rayet Stars and the Planetary Nebulae", ca. 1913-1914

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"On the occurrence of A4686 … Planetary nebulae" ca. 1913-1914

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"The Spectra of the Gaseous Nebulae and some points of correspondence between them and other Celestial Spectra", ca. 1915

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"The Draper Quartz Spectrograph of the Lick Observatory and some observations recently secured with it", 1916

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"The Quartz Spectrograph of the Lick Observatory and some observations recently secured with it" - Lick Observatory Bulletin, no.291, 1917

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Outline of paper read before a meeting of the Sigma Xc Society at Berkeley in 1918, 1918

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"The Orion Nebulae", ca. 1918

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"Observations of the Nebulae, Ch. 1" 1918-1920

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"Observations of the Nebulae, Ch. 2" 1918-1920

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Modern Astronomy, Course 11; Elementary Astronomy, I-II; General notes, Administration, etc., Jan-June 1919

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"A Preliminary Account of the Spectrum of Nova Ophiuchi", 1919

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Review of The Spectrum of Nova Germaninorum II by F. J. M. Stratton, ca. 1920-1930

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"The Spectra of the Novae", 1920

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"Displacement Lines in Nova Gemini", 1920-1921

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"On the occurrence of the enhanced lines of nitrogen in the spectra of the Novae", 1921

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"The Ultra Violet Spectrum of [alpha] Cygni" - L.O. Bulletin, no.332, 1921

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"Further Notes on Lines in the Visual Spectrum of [alpha] Cygni", 1921

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"On Spectroscopic Binaries and the Determination of Parallax", 1921

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"On the Continuous Radiation found in some celestial spectra beyond the limit of the Balmer series of hydrogen", 4/11/1922

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G. Darwin Lecture - "Planets in Different Colors", 6/8/1922

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"The Spectrum of Nova Pictoris" 1926

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"Modern Astrophysics", 1926

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"Note on Photographs of Mars, 1926 by Ross", ca. 1927

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"Photographs of Venus made by infra-red and by violet light", March 22, 1927

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"What the wild light waves are saying about the Nebulae?", Nov. 14, 1927

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"Photographs of Mars made with Light of Different Colors", 1927

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"Photographs of Mars and Of Jupiter", 1927

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"Color photographs of the planets: An historical correction", 1929

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"Photographs of Jupiter as well as photograph captions", 1929

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"On Some Photographic Observations of Jupiter made at the Lick Observatory in 1928", 1929

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"The Moon as photographed by light of different colors", 1929

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"The Angular Diameter of the Sun, as measured during Partial Phase of the Eclipse of April 28, 1930", 1930

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"Viewing the Heavenly Bodies through Colored Glasses", March 22, 1932

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Lines in the Ultra-violet Spectra of Certain Planetary Nebulae 1934

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"On the focal length of the 36-inch refractor of the Lick Observatory, and the equivalent, in seconds of arc, of the revolution of the micrometer screw", 1934

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Private note book Feb-Aug 1935

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"Michelson's Method for the measurement of small angles and it's recent astronomical applications", ca. 1920-1930

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"A preliminary table of wave-lengths of the Nebulae lines", n.d.

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"A glance at the titles of the previous lectures of this series. . . ", n.d.

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"The practice of Astronomy. . . ", n.d.

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"In the last lecture we discovered the general characteristics of the spectra of stars and nebulae and gave brief outlines of the two current theories of stellar evolution", n.d.

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"I think I may assume for the purposes of this discussion that you are familiar with Dopplers' principal. . . ", n.d.

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Note on the effect of length of exposure of comparison standards in photometric measurements, n.d.

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"Note relating to early spectroscopic observation of the Nova Aquilae Nebula", n.d.

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"On the use of a spherical or partially-corrected mirror in the Cassegrain form of reflecting telescope", n.d.

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"Why Astronomy?", n.d.

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"A General report to the President . . . 1935-42", n.d.

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"Observing List: Stars having Typical Spectra", n.d.

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Interview with Wright, University Explorer program, Nov. 19

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Miscellaneous, unidentified items n.d.

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"Hydrodynamics" & "Santiago Diary", ca. 1900-1902, 2/28/1903-5/13/1903

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Private diary - Santiago, 6/13/1904-8/1/1904

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Private diary - Return trip from Chile, 3/19/1906 - 3/27/1906

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Private note book, February - April 1935