Harold Alden

Harold Lee Alden (January 10, 1890 – February 3, 1964) was an American astronomer. He was born in Chicago, Illinois.

He received a BA from Wheaton College in 1912, and went on to receive his Master's degree from the University of Chicago in 1913. He served as an assistant in photographic photometry program of the Yerkes Observatory 1912-1914. He studied at the University of Virginia under Samuel Alfred Mitchell, receiving his Ph.D. in 1917 (title: Observations of long period variable stars at the Leander McCormick Observatory). He became an associate professor at Virginia in 1924, but left the following year to become the director of Yale University's newly established (by Frank Schlesinger) southern station in Johannesburg, South Africa. Alden spent twenty years at the Yale Observatory working on the long-focus refractor to determine parallaxes of southern stars. He also concerned himself with a study of the probable errors in the parallax plates taken in Johannesburg.

Alden returned to the University of Virginia in 1945 to succeed Samuel Alfred Mitchell as Professor of Astronomy, chairman of the Astronomy Department and Director of the Leander McCormick Observatory. The majority of Alden's work at Virginia, both before and after his term at the Yale Observatory, consisted of measurements of stellar parallaxes, proper motions and visual observations of long-period variable stars. He was best remembered for his published studies in long-focus photographic astrometry from both McCormick and Yale Observatories. He was vice-president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and chairman of its section D (astronomy) in 1951. From 1952 to 1955, he served as the president of Commission 24, the Stellar Parallaxes section, of the International Astronomical Union.

Alden retired from his position at the University of Virginia on June 30, 1960. He died in Charlottesville on February 3, 1964, survived by his wife Mildred, three children and eleven grandchildren. The Alden crater on the far side of the Moon is named in his honor.


* Harold Lee Alden


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