Paul McNally (astronomer)

Paul McNally (astronomer) bigraphy, stories - American astronomer

Paul McNally (astronomer) : biography

15 February 1890 – 4 March 1955

Rev. Paul A. McNally, S.J., Ph.D. (15 February 1890 – 4 March 1955) was an American astronomer, scientist, and Jesuit priest. He was also a Dean of the Georgetown University School of Medicine.

Directorship of Georgetown Observatory

In 1928, he had been asked to become the director of the Georgetown Observatory, succeeding Rev. Edward C. Phillips, S.J., Ph.D. McNally began work at Georgetown University with rather rudimentary equipment,Anonymous: Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 1956; 116: 152-153. observing occultations and searching for Herschel’s fields using a 12" equatorial visual refractor. Thereafter, two 3" Ross-type astrographic cameras were added, and the focus of the Georgetown Observatory’s research was on solar (accessed 7-30-2012) Dr. McNally photographed the total eclipse at Fryeburg, Maine in 1932, winning a commendation for that work at the annual meeting of the London Photographic Society. He participated in solar eclipse expeditions that were sponsored by the National Geographic Society in Siberia in 1936; in Canton Island in 1937; and in Patos, Brazil in 1940.Op cit., Ref.1.

Early Life & Education

McNally was a native of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. He was educated in parochial schools there and then entered the St. Charles Borromeo Seminary of the Roman Catholic church, being ordained in 1914. Father McNally pursued further education in physics and astronomy at the University of California-Los Angeles, and then obtained a Ph.D. in astronomy at Fordham University in New York City in 1926. McNally was a faculty member in the departments of astronomy and physics at Fordham and Boston College thereafter. He was elected to fellowship in the Royal Astronomical Society in 1929.

Administrative Roles at Georgetown University

After the outbreak of World War II, McNally was charged with coordinating all liaison efforts between the science departments at Georgetown University and the U.S. government, regarding the war effort. His success in that role resulted in his subsequent appointment as chief fund-raiser for a new university hospital at Georgetown in 1945 and he later became a Vice President at the institution. In 1946 Dr. McNally was appointed as the Georgetown University School of Medicine’s Dean and Regent.

Illness & Death

Father McNally developed symptomatic coronary artery disease in 1952, and had the first of several myocardial infarcts (heart attacks). Consequently, he had to resign his deanship and was succeeded by Francis M. Forster, M.D. Dr. McNally died in March 1955 at the age of 65, in the midst of a project to organize a graduate program in physics at Georgetown.Titusville Herald [Titusville, Pennsylvania], March 5, 1955; p.1.

The crater McNally on the Moon is named after him.