Walter Sydney Adams

Walter Sydney Adams (December 20, 1876 – May 11, 1956) was an American astronomer.[1][2][3][4][5][6]

Walter Sydney Adams
Walter Sydney Adams.jpg
Walter Sydney Adams
Born(1876-12-20)December 20, 1876
DiedMay 11, 1956(1956-05-11) (aged 79)
NationalityUnited States
Alma materDartmouth College
University of Chicago
Scientific career
InstitutionsMount Wilson Observatory
Yerkes Observatory

Life and workEdit

Adams was born in Antioch, Turkey to Lucien Harper Adams and Nancy Dorrance Francis Adams, missionary parents,[7] and was brought to the U.S. in 1885[1] He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1898, then continued his education in Chicago and in Germany. After returning to the U.S., he began a career in Astronomy that culminated when he became director of the Mount Wilson Observatory.

His primary interest was the study of stellar spectra. He worked on solar spectroscopy and co-discovered a relationship between the relative intensities of certain spectral lines and the absolute magnitude of a star. He was able to demonstrate that spectra could be used to determine whether a star was a giant or a dwarf. In 1915 he began a study of the companion of Sirius and found that despite a size only slightly larger than the Earth, the surface of the star was brighter per unit area than the Sun and it was about as massive.[8] Such a star later came to be known as a white dwarf. Along with Theodore Dunham, he discovered the strong presence of carbon dioxide in the infrared spectrum of Venus.

Adams died at the age of 79 in Pasadena, California.

Awards and honorsEdit

Awards and honors

Named after him


  1. ^ a b c d Stratton, F. J. M. (1956). "Walter Sydney Adams 1876-1956". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society. 2: 1–25. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1956.0001. JSTOR 769472.
  2. ^ Walter Sydney AdamsBiographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences
  3. ^ MNRAS 117 (1957) 243
  4. ^ Obs 76 (1956) 139
  5. ^ PASP 68 (1956) 285
  6. ^ Wright, Helen (1970). "Adams, Walter Sydney". Dictionary of Scientific Biography. 1. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. pp. 54–58. ISBN 0-684-10114-9.
  7. ^ Archived 2015-05-01 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ F. Wesemael, A comment on Adams' measurement of the gravitational redshift of Sirius B Royal Astronomical Society, Quarterly Journal (ISSN 0035-8738), 26, Sept. 1985, 273-278
  9. ^ Awarding of RAS gold medal
  10. ^ "Henry Draper Medal". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 19 February 2011.
  11. ^ "Book of Members, 1780-2010: Chapter A" (PDF). American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 6 April 2011.
  12. ^ "Prix Benjamin Valz". Comptes Rendus Hebdomadaires des Séances de l'Académie des Sciences. December 17, 1923. p. 1366.
  13. ^ Bruce Medal page
  14. ^ Awarding of Bruce Medal
  15. ^ "Honorary Member: Walter Sydney Adams". Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. Retrieved 2017-11-06.

Further readingEdit