Abbot, C.G. (Charles Greeley), 1872-1973

Alternative names
Birth 1872-05-31
Death 1973-12-17

Biographical notes:

Astronomer, director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, and secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

From the description of Papers, 1918-1920. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 78404538

Charles G. Abbot (1872-1973), the fifth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, came to the Institution in 1895 as an assistant to Secretary Samuel P. Langley in the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. In 1907 he was named Director of the Astrophysical Observatory, a position which he held until his retirement in 1944. He became an Assistant Secretary of the Institution in 1918, and served as Secretary from 1928 to 1944. Most of Abbot's research centered around studies of solar radiation and attempts to determine the relationship between solar variations and the earth's weather.

From the description of Charles G. Abbot Papers, 1889-1973, and Records of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 83659829

Charles Greeley Abbott was born in Wilton, NH on May 31, 1872 and was educated at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (B.S. 1894, M.S. 1895). He served as assistant in the Smithsonian Institution Astrophysical Laboratory in Washington, D.C. (1895-1906), as acting director in 1906 and director from 1907-1944. From 1928-1944, he also served as Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution. Abbott devoted himself to a study of the sun's and the earth's radiation, successfully measuring the solar constant of radiation in 1903 and performed early research into the phenomena of sun spots. He founded observatories for the study of solar radiation at Mt. Wilson, CA, Mt. Harqua Hala, AZ., and Mt. Montezuma, Chile. Abbott invented a gyroscopic apparatus used as an inertial navigation instrument by the United States military forces in World War 1. He retired from the Smithsonian Institution in 1944. Abbot was the recipient of the Henry Draper Medal (1910) and the Rumford Prize (1915). He was elected Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1921. He died in Washington, D.C. in 1973.

From the guide to the Charles Greeley Abbot Papers, 1918-1920, (Case Western Reserve University Kelvin Smith Library Special Collections)

Charles G. Abbot (1872-1973), astrophysicist, served as the fifth Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution from 1928 to 1944. Abbot came to the Smithsonian in 1895 to serve as an assistant to Secretary Samuel P. Langley in the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. In 1906, he was named Director of the Observatory, a position he held until his retirement in 1944. He became Assistant Secretary in 1918 and Secretary in 1928. After his retirement in 1944, he was named Secretary Emeritus and continued research in astrophysics until his death. Abbot was known for his research on the solar constant and experiments with solar powered mechanisms.

From the description of Oral history interviews with Charles G. Abbot [sound recording] / 1973. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 80630323


Loading Relationships


Ark ID:


  • Astrophysics--Societies
  • Physicists--Intellectual life
  • Solar radiation--Measurement
  • Physics--Study and teaching (Graduate)--19th century
  • Stars--Spectra
  • Stars--Temperature
  • Solar energy
  • Scientific expeditions
  • Astrophysics
  • Solar eclipses
  • Astrophysicists--Biography
  • Celebrities
  • Pyroheliometers
  • Weather forecasting
  • Patents
  • Gyroscopes
  • Rocketry
  • Astrophysical observatories
  • Astrophysics--Awards
  • Solar constant--Measurement
  • Astronomy and astrophysics
  • Meteorology
  • Inertial navigation systems
  • Solar physics


  • Astronomers
  • Physicists


  • Sun (as recorded)
  • United States--Massachusetts (as recorded)
  • Massachusetts--Cambridge--United States (as recorded)
  • Washington (D.C.) (as recorded)