James Baker1

Born: 1914, Louisville, Kentucky, USA

Baker is the doyen of living optical designers of telescope optics. His contributions are vast, both in scope and significance. Among the greatest designs are the Baker-Schmidt-Cassegrains; the Paul-Baker 3-mirror flat-field telescope; a 3-mirror, 2-axis concept; the "reflector corrector", and the Baker-Nunn Super-Schmidt. He is one of the giants in the history of reflecting telescope optics. (Courtesy James Baker)

1 Note added July 2007 for the corrected reprint of the second edition: I have just been informed that James Baker died suddenly on the 30th of June 2005 in Bedford, New Hampshire, USA, at the age of 91. So the last of the giants in Optical Design of this epoch has also passed away.

Group picture taken at the International Solar Union (ISU) meeting at Mount Wilson in 1910 (names Schwarzschild and Chretien underlined)

This historic picture was sent to me for the second edition of this book by D.E. Osterbrock, to whom I express my grateful thanks. The positive copy was in Karl Schwarzschild's possession, who himself wrote in the names of nearly all those on the photograph. It includes the majority of the famous names in astronomy at that time, although - strangely - the great names of the host institute, Hale, Adams and Ritchey are not present, though Eller-man, Gale and Pease are included. Karl Schwarzschild and Henri Chretien are shown (names underlined). Other historic figures connected with optics are Fabry, Hartmann, Turner and Babcock.

Schwarzschild and Chretien met each other here for the first time and Chretien learnt of Schwarzschild's comprehensive theory of 1905 [3.1]. However, there is strong historical evidence, given by Osterbrock [5.19], that Chretien had already independently developed his own theory for the specific Ritchey-Chretien form of reflecting telescope, before this meeting in 1910 took place. His delay in publication till 1922 [3.14] was due to his reluctance to publish his theory before an experimental telescope had confirmed it, but Ritchey only realised this in 1927 in Paris (see also § and §5.2).

Courtesy Mary Lea Shane Archives of the Lick Observatory, through D.E. Osterbrock

Telescopes Mastery

Telescopes Mastery

Through this ebook, you are going to learn what you will need to know all about the telescopes that can provide a fun and rewarding hobby for you and your family!

Get My Free Ebook

Post a comment