Seth Barnes Nicholson was born in Springfield, Illinois on November 21, 1891. He received his Bachelors in Science from Drake University, Des Moines Indiana in 1911 and his Ph.D. from the University of California in 1914. He discovered Sinope, the ninth moon of Jupiter, while observing the seventh moon, Pasiphaë, at Lick Observatory. The computation of its orbit was the subject of his Ph.D. thesis. Nicholson went on to discover three other moons of Jupiter, along with two asteroids, during his decades' long career at the Wilson Observatory. His main focus at Wilson Observatory was to monitor solar activity and he wrote the annual sunspot activity reports for most of his career. He made significant discoveries regarding sunspots, especially in regards to their magnetic properties and terrestrial effects. Nicholson served as the editor of the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific from 1943 to 1955 and was twice the president of the society. He was awarded the Bruce Medal in 1963, the year he died in Los Angeles.
Scope and Content
The collection contains Seth Barnes Nicholson's astronomical research and correspondence. The majority of Nicholson's research material deals with his study of Jupiter and its moons (Box 1). His other research (Box 2) includes his study of magnetic activity, the asteroid Icarus, Trojan asteroids, Pluto, Venus, the Sun and Sun spots (there is one item dealing with both Jupiter and the Sun in Box 1). There are some pieces of correspondence in the research folders. Most of the correspondence (Box 3) is between Nicholson and other astronomers throughout the world; the majority of it is also about Jupiter and its moons, asteroids and sun spots. Notable participants in the collection include: Giorgio Abetti, Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Robert Grant Aitken, Joseph Ashbrook, Ira Sprague Bowen, Leland E. Cunningham, Sturla Einarsson, Charles Federer, Paul Herget, Samuel Herrick, Theodor S. Jacobsen, Vladimir Kourganoff, Karl Otto Kiepenheuer, Gerard Kuiper, Willem Luyten, M. G. J. Minnaert, Yngve Öhman, Jan Oort, William Henry Pickering, Frederick Hanley Seares, Harlow Shapley, Otto Struve, Alexander N. Vyssotsky, Fred L. Whipple and Fritz Zwicky. The collection also includes several photographs.
Approximately fifty additional separate collections form the Mount Wilson Papers of the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington and are available for research in the Manuscripts Department of the Huntington Library. Forms part of: The Mount Wilson Papers of the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington.