A Short Commentary on R. G. Aitken’s The Binary Stars

  • Neil English
Part of the Historical & Cultural Astronomy book series (HCA)


Robert Grant Aitken (1864–1951) was born in Jackson, a small mining town in California, in the years after the gold rush. He developed a serious middle ear infection as a child, which led to his partial deafness and the use of a hearing aid for the rest of his life. The illness meant that he was unable to begin his schooling until age nine. Nonetheless his considerable academic abilities ensured that he received a reasonable school education, after which time he embarked on a journey across the American continent, where he initially had planned to study for the ministry at Williams College in Massachusetts. There his career took a new twist when he was introduced to the influential astronomer, Professor Truman H. Safford (1806–1901), who encouraged him to also study for a B. A. in mathematics (Fig. 27.1).


  1. Aitken, R.G.: The Binary Stars. Forgotten Books (2012)Google Scholar
  2. Couteau, P.: Observing Visual Double Stars. MIT Press (1983)Google Scholar
  3. The Thorrowgood Telescope: Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge.

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© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Neil English
    • 1
  1. 1.Fintry by GlasgowUK

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