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Robert Grant Aitken

Robert Grant Aitken (December 31, 1864 – October 29, 1951) was an American astronomer.

He worked at Lick Observatory in California. He systematically studied double stars, measuring their positions and calculating their orbits around one another. He methodically created a very large catalog of such stars, with the orbit information enabling astronomers to calculate stellar mass statistics for a large number of stars.

Aitken also measured positions and computed orbits for comets and natural satellites of planets.

Aitken was partly deaf and used a hearing aid. He married Jessie Thomas around 1888, and had three sons and one daughter. His grandson, Robert Baker Aitken, is a widely-known Zen Buddhist teacher and author.



* Bruce Medal (1926)

* Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (1932)

Named after him

* Asteroid 3070 Aitken

* Aitken crater on the Moon, part of the very large South Pole-Aitken basin


  • Bruce Medal page
  • Awarding of Bruce Medal
  • Awarding of RAS gold medal
  • Double Star Observer, Cataloguer, Statistician, and Observatory Director


  • IrAJ 2 (1952) 27 (one paragraph)
  • JO 35 (1952) 25 (in French)
  • JRASC 46 (1952) 28
  • MNRAS 112 (1952) 271
  • PASP 64 (1952) 5


Astronomy Encyclopedia

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