George Willis Ritchey
George Willis Ritchey (December 31, 1864 – November 4, 1945) was an
American optician and telescope maker and astronomer born at Tuppers
Ritchey was educated as a furniture maker. He coinvented the
Ritchey-Chrétien(R-C) reflector telescope along with Henri Chrétien.
The R-C prescription remains the predominant optical design for
telescopes and has since been used for the majority of major
ground-based and space-based telescopes.
He worked closely with George Ellery Hale, first at Yerkes Observatory
and later at Mt. Wilson Observatory. He played a major role in
designing the mountings and making the mirrors of the Mt. Wilson
60-inch (1.5 m) and 100-inch (2.5 m) telescopes. Hale and
Ritchey had a falling out in 1919, and Ritchey eventually went to
Paris where he promoted the construction of very large telescopes. He
returned to America in 1930 and obtained a contract to build a
Ritchey-Chrétien telescope for the U.S. Naval Observatory. This last
telescope produced by Ritchey remains in operation at the U.S. Naval
Observatory Flagstaff Station in Flagstaff, Arizona.
In 1924, he received the Prix Jules Janssen, the highest award of the
Société astronomique de France, the French astronomical society.
Mars and the
Moon were named in his honor.
A very readable biography of Ritchey and Hale is in Don Osterbrock's
book "Pauper and Prince - Ritchey, Hale and the Big American
Telescopes" (The university of Arizona Press, 1993) where the
idiosyncratic personalities of both Ritchey and Hale are exposed.
List of astronomical instrument makers
MNRAS 107 (1947) 36
Obs 66 (1943-46) 268 (one sentence)
ISNI: 0000 0000 7858 8036
BNF: cb12382904z (data)
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