Robert Raynolds McMath bigraphy, stories - American astronomer

Robert Raynolds McMath : biography

1891 - 1962

Robert Raynolds McMath (1891 - 1962) was a U.S. solar astronomer.

Robert R. McMath (1891-1962) was a bridge engineer, businessman, and astronomer. Robert's father, Francis C. McMath, had made a fortune as a bridge builder. They both had a keen interest in amateur astronomy. So in 1922, the McMaths, along with Judge Henry S. Hulbert founded the McMath-Hulbert Observatory in Lake Angelus, Michigan. It was deeded to the University of Michigan in 1931, Robert served as the director of the McMath-Hulbert Observatory until 1961.

In 1932, Robert extended the functionality of the spectroheliograph so that it could record motion pictures of the sun. This machine is known as a spectroheliokinematograph; with it, he took astonishing moving pictures of solar storms, showing features on the sun's surface that lasted from seconds to days.

In 1933, he and his father received the Franklin Institute's John Price Wetherill Medal.

Robert McMath was an adviser to the National Science Foundation in its early years and he chaired the panel that advised NSF on the need for a national observatory. A site on Kitt Peak, AZ was finally chosen for the Kitt Peak National Observatory (KPNO). Robert McMath along with the eminent astronomer Keith Pierce built a new, larger solar telescope on Kitt Peak called the McMath-Pierce Solar Telescope. Robert McMath served as the first president of AURA from 1957 to 1958, and thereafter as chairman of the AURA board.

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