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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Mary Lea Shane: The Lick Observatory

  • Author(s): Shane, Mary Lea
  • Calciano, Elizabeth Spedding
  • Regional History Project, UCSC Library
  • et al.

Dr. Shane was an astronomer, historian, and wife of the former Director of the Lick Observatory. Her association with the Lick Observatory began in 1919, when she moved up to Mount Hamilton for a year's postgraduate work, work which eventually resulted in her Ph.D. thesis. The first section of her manuscript is concerned with the workings of the Observatory in the 1919 period-- the apparatus, the astronomers, the duties of the graduate assistants-- as well as the more mundane subjects such as food, lodging, water supply, and health care. Since Dr. Shane had for years been the Observatory's unofficial historian-in-residence, she and the interviewer took an all-day trip to Mount Hamilton. The resulting eighty pages of manuscript, which form the middle portion of the volume, focus on the history of the Mount Hamilton road and development of the various telescopes. Dr. Shane also comments on a number of astronomers and observatories throughout the world. In the final portion of the volume, Dr. Shane describes the administrative and technical problems her husband, Dr. Donald Shane, faced as Director of the Observatory from 1945-1958, as well as amusing anecdotes of everyday life on the mountain.

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