Lampland, C. O. (Carl Otto), 1873-1951

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Carl Otto Lampland was born near Hayfield, Minnesota on December 29, 1873. He was educated first at Valparaiso Normal school in Valparaiso, Indiana, where he earned a B.S. degree in 1899. He then studied at Indiana University, where he received a B.A. degree in astronomy in 1902, an M.A. in 1906, and an honorary LL.D in 1930. Lampland began work at Lowell Observatory in 1902. His primary function at Lowell was to design cameras to be used on the various telescopes. He won the British Royal Photographic Society Medal in 1905 for the camera which he designed for the 24-inch Clark telescope. In addition to his photography, Lampland also helped to design and maintain a number of telescopes during his career. For example, he frequently resilvered the mirror of the 40-inch telescope. In conjunction with W.W. Coblentz of the U.S. Bureau of Standards, Lampland also measured the temperatures of the planets using thermocouples which he constructed.

In the early part of his career at Lowell, Lampland was closely involved with Percival Lowell in planetary observation. He began observing Mars in 1903 and photographed its "canals" in 1905. He also began the first photographic search for Percival Lowell's postulated Planet X in 1905. He was among the observers who finally saw Planet X, now known as Pluto, in 1930. When Lowell added the 42-inch reflecting telescope in 1909, Lampland became the primary observer on this instrument until his death in 1951. He photographed many objects during his years at Lowell, creating over 10,000 images of planets, comets, variable stars, nebulae and star clusters. He also photographed the solar eclipse of 1918 from Syracuse, Kansas.

Lampland seems to have been very interested in automobiles during his time at Lowell Observatory - he spoke frequently of driving either his or Percival Lowell's car, of going on car trips, or of repairing the Observatory's cars. He also amassed an impressive collection of books which still reside at the Observatory. Lampland died of a stroke on December 14, 1951 in Flagstaff.

From the guide to the C.O. Lampland Collection, 1894/1951, (Lowell Observatory)

Carl Lampland was an astronomer who began work at Lowell Observatory in 1902. He designed cameras and telescopes for planetary observation and worked closely with Percival Lowell on photographic exploration of Mars and Pluto.

From the guide to the Carl O. Lampland collection, 1928, (The Museum of Northern Arizona)

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creatorOf Carl O. Lampland collection, 1928 The Museum of Northern Arizona
creatorOf C.O. Lampland Collection, 1894/1951 Lowell Observatory
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Place Name Admin Code Country
Lees Ferry (Ariz.)
Vermilion Cliffs National Monument (Ariz.)
Grand Canyon (Ariz.)
Hoover Dam (Ariz. and Nev.)


Birth 1873-12-29

Death 1951-12-14



Ark ID: w6458n0p

SNAC ID: 63034731