Slipher, Earl C.

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1883-03-25
Death 1964-08-07

Biographical notes:

Earl Carl Slipher was born on a farm near Mulberry, Indiana on March 25, 1883. He began his higher education at Indiana University, where he received his B.A. degree in 1906 and his M.A. degree in 1908. He earned this M.A. through the Laurence Fellowship, which allowed him to work toward his master's degree at Lowell Observatory from 1906 to 1908. He received honorary LL.D degrees from the University of Arizona and Northern Arizona University in 1960.

Slipher began his lifelong career as a planetary astronomer in 1907 when he observed Mars during an expedition to the Andes led by David Todd and supported by Percival Lowell. He became an astronomer at Lowell Observatory in 1908. At this institution, he became one of the first people to use multiple image printing, in which several images taken in close succession are superimposed onto one photographic plate in order to improve the information content in any given picture. In 1918, he became one of the first people to standardize his photographic plates for photometric measures, a procedure which is now universally used.

In 1939, 1954 and 1956, Slipher led expeditions to the Lamont-Hussey Observatory at Bloemfontein, South Africa in order to observe Mars while it was in opposition. He was also instrumental in organizing the International Mars Committee (1954), which was designed to coordinate observatories around the world in order to observe Mars continuously for several months before and after an opposition. In 1960, Slipher headed a United States Air Force project designed to update the techniques used to observe Mars. Slipher was also the acting director of Lowell Observatory from January 3rd, 1957 until September 1958.

Slipher did not, however, limit his activities to the confines of Lowell Observatory. He was the mayor of Flagstaff (1918-1920), a Flagstaff city council member (1917), a State Legislature member (from which position he resigned in 1933), and a member of the Flagstaff draft board (1940-1945). E.C. Slipher died in Flagstaff, Arizona on August 7, 1964 at the age of 81.

From the guide to the E.C. Slipher Collection, 1885/1969, (Lowell Observatory)

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