|What Else Did V. M. Slipher Do?
|471, Origins of the Expanding Universe: 1912-1932
|Tenn, J. S.
|When V. M. Slipher gave the 1933 George Darwin lecture to the
Royal Astronomical Society, it was natural that he spoke on spectrographic
studies of planets. Less than one-sixth of his published work deals with
globular clusters and the objects we now call galaxies. In his most productive
years, when he had Percival Lowell to give him direction, Slipher made major
discoveries regarding stars, galactic nebulae, and solar system objects. These
included the first spectroscopic measurement of the rotation period of Uranus,
evidence that Venus's rotation is very slow, the existence of reflection nebulae
and hence interstellar dust, and the stationary lines that prove the existence of
interstellar calcium and sodium. After Lowell's death in 1916 Slipher
continued making spectroscopic observations of planets, comets, and the
aurora and night sky. He directed the Lowell Observatory from 1916 to 1954,
where his greatest achievements were keeping the observatory running despite
very limited staff and budget, and initiating and supervising the “successful”
search for Lowell's Planet X. However, he did little science in his last
decades, spending most of his time and energy on business endeavors.