Tony Misch is director of Lick Observatory Historical Collection projects Lick Observatory located in Silicon Valley is a historic observatory and one of the oldest observatories in western USA.
In this conversation we talk to him about the early women astronomers – the “hidden figures of Lick Observatory,” and the important role of the observatory in research like verifying Albert Einstein’s scientific theory. Misch also shares how he discovered an original document written by Johannes Kepler among the archives at the observatory.
Misch trained as an artist and it was serendipity that got him his first job at Mount Wilson observatory in Los Angeles. What Misch thought would be a temporary assignment turned into a 6 year sojourn working at the observatory. He was smitten with his work at the observatory and decided to pursue his career working in the field of astronomy. His next assignment was at Lick Observatory, where he worked for over 20 years. Although he is retired Misch cannot seem to stay away from working at the observatory. He is currently working on the historical collection projects at the observatory.
Lick Observatory played and continues to play an important role says Misch. Lick Observatory was one of the first observatory to be located on a mountain top and served as a template for modern observatory adds Misch. James Lick, a local San Francisco Bay area millionaire gave the money to build the observatory that opened in late 19thc.
Misch underscores the role of women astronomers, the “hidden figures,” who worked at Lick Observatory like Estelle Glancy, Phoebe Waterman and Mary Lea Shane. Clancy and Waterman were some of the early women, who got their PhD in astronomy from University of California in Berkeley. Glancy is often referred to as the “First Lady of Optics,” while Waterman got married and maintained a keen interest in astronomy. Shane was an astronomer, who was also the first archivist at the observatory.
An important contribution of Lick Observatory was the role it played in verifying Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity says Misch. He shares the back story of how Lick Observatory came to play an important role to confirm Einstein’s theory.
Misch was working on the solar expeditions at the Lick Observatory archives when he stumbled across an old document. And that old document turned out to be an original document written by Johannes Kepler.
This interview aired on TV in the US.
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