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University Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Natural and Applied Sciences Archives: Astronomy & Astrophysics

These topic guides provide a starting point for finding source materials related to the history of science and technology at the University of Illinois. Please note that these guides are not definitive or comprehensive and are periodically updated.
Image titled Antenna in Snow, Vermillion River Observatory, circa 1955

"Antenna in Snow," Vermilion River Observatory, ca. 1955

About Astronomy and Astrophysics

Instruction in astronomy commenced in 1892 as an offering of the Mathematics Department. In August 1921, the Board of Trustees authorized that the Division of Astronomy in the Department of Mathematics be organized as a separate Department of Astronomy. In 1957, the Department began a program of cooperative investigation with the United States Office of Naval Research and, in 1962, the radio telescope site at Vermillion River Observatory was completed. Courses range from descriptive astronomy to aeronomy, with B.S, M.S., and Ph.D. degrees offered.

Astronomy and Astrophysics Archival Holdings

A complete list of Department of Astronomy record series is available in the Archives database.

College and Departmental Archives

Faculty and Staff Papers

  • George C. McVittie Papers (Record Series 15/3/20): Includes materials relating to unified field theory, cosmological research, and World War II cryptographic service; reprints of European meetings on radio astronomy, gravitation, and astronomy; and correspondence regarding astronomical observations, astronomy, British scientists, cosmology, general relativity, gravitational collapse, mathematics, publication of scientific articles, radio astronomy, red-shifts, and university matters. Correspondents include Albert Einstein, Charles Darwin, Sherman C. Lowell, Allan R. Sandage, Harlow Shapley, Abe H. Taub, and Edmund Whittaker.
  • Joel Stebbins Papers (Record Series 15/3/21): Includes publications, research, and articles concerning the use of selenium photoelectric cells to measure astronomical bodies, variations and eclipsing of stars, and results of the photoelectric study of stars.  
  • Helene R. Dickel Papers (Record Series 15/3/22): Includes materials concerning star-forming regions, supernova remnants, radio astronomy, and observations at the Very Large Array (VLA) radio interferometer.
  • Sidney Rosen Papers (Record Series 15/3/23): Includes materials concerning astronomy at the University; publishing of Rosen's science textbooks and books for children; and involvement in scientific committees and associations, including the National Association for Research in Science Teaching and the National Science Teachers Association.  
  • Larry Smarr Papers (Record Series 15/3/24): Includes materials relating to conferences and associations like the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) and the National Science Foundation (NSF); directorship of the NCSA; research on black holes, astronomical topics, and supercomputing; the book Supercomputing and the Transformation of Science (1992), written with William J. Kaufmann III; and other publications and correspondences.

Publications and Reference Files

Illinois Distributed Museum

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