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Look Inside Solar System Astronomy in America

Solar System Astronomy in America
Communities, Patronage, and Interdisciplinary Science, 1920–1960


  • Date Published: July 2009
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9780521115681

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About the Authors
  • Between 1920 and 1960 astronomers began working with scientists in other fields in order to better understand the nature of the solar system. Researchers made wide-ranging attempts to solve such problems as the nature of lunar and terrestrial craters, the origin of comets and meteors and the birth of the solar system. While often tinged with controversy, this work provided the foundation for planetary science in the space age. Exploiting archival material, this book, first published in 1996, investigates this emerging interdisciplinary scientific community and its influence on astronomy, meteorology, geology and geophysics. It examines how studies in planetary science were influenced by shifts in institutional mandates, new research techniques, and Cold War government-military funding. Above all, the book explores an important branch of what is now called the environmental sciences.

    • Only title covering crucial earlier period of twentieth-century US planetary science
    • Emphasizes interdisciplinary aspects of planetary science
    • Non-technical language
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Ronald Doel's superb book challenges the thesis that American scientists neglected the solar system in the four decades preceding NASA's founding.' Karl Hufbauer, Science

    'Interdisciplinary cooperation … has a profound effect on science and the scientist … the author draws on unpublished archive material to understand the controversies … The reader will probably enjoy the conflict of opinion … the book is well illustrated with photographs and we notice that most of the astronomers (and also the rest) are smiling!' Irish Astronomical Journal

    'Doel has written an excellent account of this mostly-forgotten development, and he has helped us to understand the crucial background of the achievement of the Space Age.' Journal for the History of Astronomy

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 2009
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9780521115681
    • length: 316 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 18 mm
    • weight: 0.46kg
    • contains: 26 b/w illus. 5 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    List of illustrations
    1. American astronomy in the foundation era (1920–40)
    2. Planetary atmospheres and military patrons (1945–55)
    3. Astronomers, geochemists, and astro-chemistry (1945–55)
    4. Consensus, then controversy: interdisciplinary turmoil (1950–7)
    5. Astronomers and geologists: uneasy alliances (1920–60)
    6. Patronage and American astronomy: turmoil and transition (1952–60)
    List of Abbreviation

  • Author

    Ronald E. Doel

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