Atkinson, Robert d'Escourt, 1898-1982

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Astronomer (fundamental astronomy, celestial mechanics, relativity). On the physics faculty at Rutgers University, 1929-1937; on the staff of the Royal Greenwich Observatory, 1937-1964; and on the astronomy faculty at University of Indiana, Bloomington from 1964.

From the description of Selected correspondence [microform], 1927-1955. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 80709772

Visiting Professor, Indiana University Department of Astronomy.

Astronomer and astrophysicist best known for his pioneering work on atomic synthesis in stellar interiors.

From the description of Robert d'Escourt Atkinson papers, 1893-1981. (Indiana University). WorldCat record id: 43603955

Robert d'Escourt Atkinson, astronomer, physicist, and inventor, was known around the world for his work in general physics, atomic synthesis and stellar energy, precision astrometry and fundamental astronomy, instrumentation, and relativity.

Atkinson was born in Wales on April 11, 1898. He graduated from Hertford College in 1922 with 1st class honors in Physics. He remained at Hertford to earn his M.A. and to work as a research fellow in the Clarendon Laboratory. Atkinson earned his Ph.D. in Physics with minors in Mathematics and Astronomy in 1928 after studying at the University of Gottingen in Germany as a Rockefeller Traveling Fellow. After teaching physics at the Berlin Technische Hochscule for a year, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Physics at Rutgers University. He remained there until returning to England in 1937 as Chief Assistant at the Royal Observatory in Greenwich. He was called away from this position to do "degaussing" - anti-magnetic mine work - during WWII. In 1944, Atkinson was lent out to the Ballistic Research Laboratory at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., where he worked under famed astronomer Edwin Hubble. He stayed there for two years and then returned to Greenwich, where a large amount of his remaining years at the Royal Observatory were spent overseeing the move of the entire Observatory to Herstmonceux Castle in Sussex. He retired from the Observatory in 1964 and came to Indiana University as a visiting professor. In 1973 he became an adjunct professor and professor emeritus in 1979.

Atkinson originated many now well-known ideas in astronomy. He was the first to develop a quantitative formula for the rate of nuclear reactions in stars; he originated a new and very precise method for obtaining the moon's place with reference to the sun's. Also an inventor, he was the originator of the "Mirror Transit Circle," and designer of an axis and mirror-mounting for it. He was also the designer and maker of the Astronomical Clock for the York Minister Cathedral. These name but a few of his inventions. One of his inventions can be found on the Indiana University campus. At the south entrance of Assembly Hall stands a sundial he was commissioned to create by the Indiana University Foundation. This sundial is unique in that it allows observers to 'correct' the sun's unpunctuality by rotating the sundial around its tilted axis as needed.

Throughout his life, Atkinson received many honors for his work. He received the Eddington Medal from the Royal Astronomical Society in 1960 for his 1931 joint paper on atomic synthesis and stellar energy, now known as pioneering work in this field. In 1977, a minor planet was named for him ("Asteroid Atkinson", "1827 Atkinson", or "Minor Planet Atkinson") by the International Astronomical Union. The University of Goettingen bestowed a rare honor upon Atkinson in 1978 - a formal diploma that officially "renewed" his doctorate, 50 years after receiving his first. It was given in recognition of his work on atomic synthesis in stellar interiors.

Also involved in professional associations, Atkinson was a founder-member of the Royal Institute of Navigation and served as president of the British Astronomical Association for one year.

Atkinson passed away in Bloomington on October 28, 1982.

From the guide to the Robert d'Escourt Atkinson papers, 1893-1981, (Indiana University Office of University Archives and Records Management http://www.libraries.iub.edu/archives)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Atkinson, Robert d'Escourt, 1898-1982. Selected correspondence [microform], 1927-1955. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
referencedIn History of Modern Astrophysics Collection, 1849-1979 American Philosophical Society
creatorOf Swope, Henrietta Hill, 1902-. Papers of Henrietta Hill Swope, 1923-1979. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Robert d'Escourt Atkinson papers, 1893-1981 Indiana University Office of University Archives and Records Managementhttp://www.libraries.iub.edu/archives
creatorOf Atkinson, Robert d'Escourt, 1898-1982. Oral history interview with Robert d'Escourt Atkinson, 1977. American Institute of Physics, Niels Bohr Library
creatorOf Atkinson, Robert d'Escourt, 1898-1982. Robert d'Escourt Atkinson papers, 1893-1981. Indiana University
referencedIn Archive for the History of Quantum Physics, 1898-1950 (bulk), 1898-1950 American Philosophical Society
Role Title Holding Repository
Direct Relationships
Relation Name
associatedWith Aberdeen Proving Ground (Md.) corporateBody
associatedWith Abraham, Max, 1875-1922 person
associatedWith Amaldi, Edoardo, 1908-1989 person
associatedWith American Philosophical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith American Physical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith American Physical Society and American Philosophical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Andrade, E. N. da C., (Edward Neville da Costa), 1887-1971 person
associatedWith Back, Ernst, 1881-1959 person
associatedWith Balliol College (University of Oxford) corporateBody
associatedWith Bauer, Edmond, 1880-1963 person
associatedWith Becquerel, Jean, 1878-1953 person
associatedWith Benedicks, Carl Axel Fredrik, 1875-1953 person
associatedWith Berliner, Arnold, 1862-1942 person
associatedWith Birge, Raymond T., (Raymond Thayer), 1887-1980 person
associatedWith Bohr, Niels, 1885-1962. person
associatedWith Born, Max, 1882-1970 person
associatedWith Breit, Gregory, 1899-1981 person
associatedWith Broglie, Louis de, 1892-1987 person
associatedWith Center for History of Physics (American Institute of Physics) corporateBody
associatedWith Cherwell, Frederick Alexander Lindemann, Viscount. person
associatedWith Cockcroft, John, Sir, 1897-1967 person
associatedWith Compton, Arthur Holly, 1892-1962 person
associatedWith Coster, Dirk, 1889-1950 person
associatedWith Darwin, Charles Galton, Sir, 1887-1962 person
associatedWith Debye, Peter J. W., (Peter Josef William), 1884-1966 person
associatedWith DeVorkin, David H., 1944- person
associatedWith Dieke, Gerhard Heinrich, 1901-1965 person
associatedWith Dirac, P. A. M., (Paul Adrien Maurice), 1902-1984 person
associatedWith Eddington, Arthur Stanley, Sir, 1882-1944. person
associatedWith Ehrenfest, Paul, 1880-1933 person
associatedWith Einstein, Albert, 1879-1955 person
associatedWith Fermi, Enrico, 1901-1954 person
associatedWith Fokker, A. D., (Adriaan Daniel), 1887-1972 person
associatedWith Fowler, A., (Alfred), 1868-1940 person
associatedWith Franck, James, 1882-1964 person
associatedWith Gamow, George, 1904-1968. person
associatedWith Gerlach, Walther, 1889-1979 person
associatedWith Goudsmit, Samuel Abraham, 1902-1978 person
associatedWith Great Britain. Admiralty. corporateBody
associatedWith Haber, Fritz, 1868-1934 person
associatedWith Heisenberg, Werner, 1901-1976 person
associatedWith Hilbert, David, 1862-1943 person
associatedWith Hubble, Edwin Powell, 1889-1953. person
associatedWith Indiana University. corporateBody
associatedWith Indiana University, Bloomington. Dept. of Astronomy corporateBody
associatedWith Indiana University. Dept. of Astronomy corporateBody
associatedWith Jeans, James Hopwood, Sir, 1877-1946. person
associatedWith Joliot-Curie, Frédéric person
associatedWith Jordan, Pascual, 1902-1980 person
associatedWith Kamerlingh Onnes, Heike, 1853-1926 person
associatedWith Kapitsa, P. L., (Petr Leonidovich), 1894-1984 person
associatedWith Kayser, H., (Heinrich), 1853-1940 person
associatedWith Kemble, Edwin C., (Edwin Crawford), 1889-1984 person
associatedWith Klein, Oskar, 1894-1977 person
associatedWith Kramers, Hendrik Anthony, 1894-1952 person
associatedWith Ladenburg, Rudolf Walter, 1882-1952 person
associatedWith Langevin, Paul, 1872-1946 person
associatedWith Laue, Max von, 1879-1960 person
associatedWith London, Fritz, 1900-1954 person
associatedWith McLennan, J. C., (John Cunningham), 1867-1935 person
associatedWith Meitner, Lise, 1878-1968 person
associatedWith Mie, Gustav, 1868-1957 person
associatedWith Millikan, Robert Andrews, 1868-1953 person
associatedWith Mulliken, Robert Sanderson, 1896-1986 person
associatedWith Nishina, Yoshio, 1890-1951 person
associatedWith Oppenheimer, J. Robert, 1904-1967 person
associatedWith Paschen, F., (Friedrich), 1865-1947 person
associatedWith Pauling, Linus, 1901-1994 person
associatedWith Pauli, Wolfgang, 1900-1958 person
associatedWith Planck, Max, 1858-1947 person
associatedWith Rosenfeld, L., (Leon), 1904-1974 person
associatedWith Rosseland, Svein, 1894-1985 person
associatedWith Royal Astronomical Society. corporateBody
associatedWith Royal Greenwich Observatory corporateBody
associatedWith Rubens, Heinrich, 1865-1922 person
associatedWith Runge, Carl, 1856-1927 person
correspondedWith Russell, Henry Norris, 1877-1957 person
associatedWith Rutgers University. corporateBody
associatedWith Rutherford, Ernest, 1871-1937 person
associatedWith Scheel, Karl, 1866-1936 person
associatedWith Schrödinger, Erwin, 1887-1961 person
associatedWith Sommerfeld, Arnold, 1868-1951 person
associatedWith Stark, Johannes, 1874-1957 person
associatedWith Swope, Henrietta Hill, 1902-. person
associatedWith Thomson, J. J., Sir, (Joseph John), 1856-1940 person
associatedWith Uhlenbeck, George Eugène, 1900-1988 person
associatedWith Universität Göttingen. corporateBody
associatedWith University of Oxford. corporateBody
associatedWith Van Vleck, J. H., (John Hasbrouck), 1899-1980 person
associatedWith Voigt, Woldemar, 1850-1919 person
associatedWith Von Neumann, John, 1903-1957 person
associatedWith Warburg, Emil Gabriel, 1846-1931 person
associatedWith Weisskopf, Victor Frederick, 1908-2002 person
correspondedWith Wells, Herman B person
associatedWith Zeeman, Pieter, 1865-1943 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Indiana--Bloomington
Solar system
Subject
Spectrum analysis
World War, 1939-1945--Science
Astrophysicists--Correspondence
Relativity (Physics)
Astrophysicists--Archives
Quantum theory
Degaussing--Research
Astrometry--Research
World politics--1945-
Solar eclipses
Astronomy teachers--Biography
World War, 1914-1918
Astrophysicists--Biography
Astronomy teachers--Archives
Astronomical observatories
Astrophysics
General relativity (Physics)
Astronomy teachers--Correspondence
Astronomy
Astronomical observatories--Administration
Stars--Masses--Research
Ballistics
Ballistics--Research
Degaussing
Stars--Structure
Astrophysics--Study and teaching (Higher)
Occupation
Astronomers
Function

Person

Birth 1898-04-11

Death 1982-10-28

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