The guest speaker at the May monthly society meeting was our good friend Mr Rod Hine from Bradford astronomical society. The subject of his presentation was the American astronomer and astronomical photographer Edward Emerson Barnard (1857-1923). He received the Lalande Medal from the French Academy of Sciences for his discovery of the fifth satellite of Jupiter.
Mr Hine explained that Edward Barnard was born on 16th December 1857, in Nashville, Tennessee. His early education came mostly from his mother. He only had a total of two months school education in his whole life. Edward was employed at the age of nine in the studio of a Nashville photographer, where he remained for 16 years. His training in photographic processes and his knowledge of lenses were later of great value in his pioneer work in astronomical photography.
Edward Emerson Barnard, age 9. Barnard began working for Van Stavoren’s photographic studio at about this time. Barnard formed many lifelong friendships with fellow photography enthusiasts while working for this studio.
Calvert’s Photographic Studio at the corner of Cherry and Union Streets. Originally Van Stavoren’s studio, then Poole’s, and finally Calvert’s. These offices provided Barnard with the photography skills which would later mark his work as an astronomer.
Barnard’s interest in astronomy dated from 1876, when he read a stray copy of a popular book on astronomy and constructed his first telescope with a one-inch lens from a broken spyglass. Meeting Simon Newcomb the following year persuaded him that to do work in astronomy he must be well grounded in mathematics, so he worked in his spare time to educate himself.
As a young boy, Barnard worked for photographer Van Stavoren as an assistant. One of his assigned tasks was to keep an enlarging camera, named Jupiter, pointed directly at the sun. The camera had to be adjusted throughout the day to follow the sun’s path. This photograph was taken on the roof of Stavoren’s studio. L to R: Van Stavoren, J. W. Braid, Unidentified.
His discovery of a many unexpected comets led to a fellowship at Vanderbilt University, where he received a bachelor of science degree in 1887. He was then appointed junior astronomer at the recently established Lick Observatory, which had a new 36-inch telescope, then the largest in the world.
During the next few years Barnard continued to work in the photography studio, pursuing his astronomical studies in the evenings. His discovery of a many unexpected comets led to a fellowship at Vanderbilt University, where he received a bachelor of science degree in 1887. He was then appointed junior astronomer at the recently established Lick Observatory, which had a new 36-inch telescope, then the largest in the world. There he discovered the fifth satellite of Jupiter, ‘Amalthea’ (the last moon to be found without photographic aid) followed by the faint and distant sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth. He also found the nearby star that now bears his name . Barnards Star. Edward measured its proper motion; which remains the largest proper motion of any star relative to the Sun. He also began his photography of the Milky Way, securing the first of the beautiful photographs of its intricate structure for which he became famous.
At the Lick Observatory he discovered the fifth satellite of Jupiter, ‘Amalthea’ (the last moon to be found without photographic aid) followed by the faint and distant sixth, seventh, eighth, and ninth. He also found the nearby star that now bears his name . Barnards Star. Edward measured its proper motion; which remains the largest proper motion of any star relative to the Sun.
Barnard accepted a position at the Yerkes Observatory in 1895, and in 1897 he began observing with the great 40-inch photographic telescope (still the largest refractor in the world) that had been secured through the efforts of President William Harper of the University of Chicago and Edward Everett Hale, the greatest astronomical entrepreneur of the period. Barnard next began the micrometric triangulation of some of the globular clusters, which he continued for nearly 25 years, hoping to detect motions of the individual stars.
The observatory’s acquisition in 1904 of the 10-inch Bruce photographic telescope gave added impetus to Barnard’s photography of comets and his mapping of the Milky Way. In all, Barnard collected 1400 negatives of comets and nearly 4000 plates of the Milky Way and other star fields. His published papers number more than 900.
Barnard spent 28 years as an astronomer at Yerkes using the giant refractor as well as the 10-inch Bruce wide-field telescope, built specially for him, to measure star positions and to pioneer wide-field photography for studying the structure of the Milky Way. He discovered the star, subsequently named after him, with the largest known proper motion, and numerous dark clouds and globules. His Photographic Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way, published posthumously in 1927, identifies 349 dark nebulae north of declination -35° that are still known by their Barnard (B) numbers. Barnard played a prominent role, at the turn of the 20th century, in denouncing the existence of martian canals and insisting that they could be broken down into more diffuse detail.
Barnard was married in 1881 to Rhoda Calvert from Pudsey West Yorkshire. He died in Wisconsin on 6th February 1923, surviving his wife by two years.