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Otto Struve

Born: 12-Aug-1897
Birthplace: Kharkov, Ukraine
Died: 6-Apr-1963
Location of death: Berkeley, CA
Cause of death: Illness
Remains: Cremated (ashes given to his wife)

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Astronomer

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Hydrogen in the interstellar medium

Military service: Imperial Russian Army (1916-19); White Russian Army (1919-20)

Otto Struve made his major contribution to astronomy by proving the presence of ionized hydrogen in the interstellar medium. He also studied binary and variable stars, the broadening of spectral lines due to stellar rotation, close binaries and peculiar stars, electric fields, the interstellar medium, stellar atmospheres, stellar rotation, and turbulence. He studied at the University of Kharkov, and fought among the losing -- but still patriotic, he said -- army of the Russian Revolution. He then came to America, arriving at Ellis Island still wearing his tattered Russian military uniform before purchasing a more "American" suit at a second hand shop. He arrived at the University of Chicago wearing a blue sports coat, brown trousers, and a bright green hat. He was the first astronomer to seriously propose searching for intelligent life in the universe, and though English was his third language, he edited Astrophysical Journal for fifteen years.

Study of the stars was Struve's family tradition -- his great-grandfather was astronomer Friedrich Georg Wilhelm Struve, his grandfather was astronomer Otto Wilhelm Struve, his uncle was astronomer Karl Hermann Struve, and his father, Ludwig Struve, was the Director of Kharkov University Observatory. The family's stellar dynasty ended with Otto Struve, however, as he and his wife had no children.

Father: Gustav Wilhelm Ludwig Struve (astronomer, b. 1-Nov-1858, 4-Nov-d. 1920)
Mother: Elizaveta Struve
Wife: Mary Martha Lanning (secretary at Yerkes, m. May-1925, d. 1966, no children)

    High School: Kharkov Gymnasium, Kharkov, Ukraine (1914)
    University: BS Astronomy, University of Kharkov (1919)
    University: PhD Astronomy, University of Chicago (1923)
    Scholar: Yerkes Observatory, University of Chicago (1921-32)
    Teacher: Astronomy, University of Chicago (1924-32)
    Professor: Astronomy, University of Chicago (1932-47)
    Administrator: Director, Yerkes Observatory, University of Chicago (1932-47)
    Administrator: Director, McDonald Observatory, University of Texas at Austin (1939-50)
    Administrator: Director, Leuschner Observatory, University of California at Berkeley (1950-59)
    Administrator: Director, National Radio Astronomy Observatory (1959-62)

    Rittenhouse Medal 1954
    Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal 1944
    Bruce Medal 1948
    Henry Draper Medal 1949
    Astrophysical Journal Editor (1932-47)
    International Astronomical Union President (1952-55)
    Astronomical Society of the Pacific President (1951)
    American Astronomical Society President (1946-49)
    Asteroid Namesake 2227 Otto Struve
    Lunar Crater Struve (23.0 N, 76.6 W, 170 km diameter)
    Naturalized US Citizen
    Ukrainian Ancestry
    Russian Ancestry
    German Ancestry

Author of books:
Stellar Evolution (1950)
Elementary Astronomy (1959)
Astronomy of the 20th Century (1962, with Velta Zebergs)
The Universe (1962)
Stellar Spectroscopy, Peculiar Stars (1971, with Margherita Hack)


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