Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers

2014 Edition
| Editors: Thomas Hockey, Virginia Trimble, Thomas R. Williams, Katherine Bracher, Richard A. Jarrell, Jordan D. MarchéII, JoAnn Palmeri, Daniel W. E. Green

Abbot, Charles Greeley

  • Thomas R. WilliamsEmail author
Reference work entry

BornWilton, New Hampshire, USA, 31 May 1872

DiedWashington, District of Columbia, USA, 17 December 1973

Charles Abbot refined the value of the solar constant and significantly improved the technology of its measurement, but failed in his long-term effort to correlate small variations in the solar constant with terrestrial weather patterns. Abbot provided critically needed encouragement and financial support from both institutional and private sources to Robert H. Goddard’s early research and development of liquid-fueled rocket technology.

The son of Harris and Carol Ann (née Greeley) Abbot, Charles studied chemistry and physics at Phillips Andover Academy, Massachusetts, and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, receiving an M.S. degree in 1895 for a thesis on osmotic pressure.

Although he knew nothing about astronomy at the time, Abbot was employed following his graduation by  Samuel Langley, director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory [SAO] and secretary of the...

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Selected References

  1. DeVorkin, David H. (1990). “Defending a Dream: Charles Greeley Abbot’s Years at the Smithsonian.” Journal for the History of Astronomy 21: 121–136.ADSCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. — (1999). “Abbot, Charles Greeley.” In American National Biography, edited by John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, Vol. 1, pp. 9–10. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Hufbauer, Karl (1991). Exploring the Sun: Solar Science since Galileo. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Jones, Bessie Zaban (1965). Lighthouse of the Skies: The Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory: Background and History, 1846–1955. Washington, DC: Smithsonian Institution.Google Scholar
  5. Kidwell, Peggy Aldrich (1981). “Prelude to Solar Energy: Pouillet, Herschel, Forbes and the Solar Constant.” Annals of Science 38: 457–476.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Warner, Deborah Jean (1976). “Charles Greeley Abbot (1872–1973).” In The American Philosophical Society Year Book 1975, pp. 111–116. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Rice UniversityHoustonUSA