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Frank Washington Very

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Frank Washington Very
Born(1852-02-12)February 12, 1852
DiedNovember 23, 1927(1927-11-23) (aged 75)
Alma materMassachusetts Institute of Technology
SpousePortia Mary Vickers
Scientific career
FieldsAstronomy, Astrophysics, Meteorology
InstitutionsMassachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Pittsburgh
Brown University
Westwood Astrophysical Observatory
PatronsPercival Lowell

Frank Washington Very (February 12, 1852 – November 23, 1927)[1] was a U.S. astronomer, astrophysicist, and meteorologist.[2] He was born in Salem, Massachusetts, and educated at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1873) where he taught physics after his graduation.[2]

After several years at MIT, Very was employed at the Allegheny Observatory at the University of Pittsburgh, where he worked from 1878–1895.[3] In 1890, he became a professor and chair of astronomy at the University of Pittsburgh (then known as the Western University of Pennsylvania), concurrent with his post at Allegheny Observatory.[2] He was then made professor and acting director of the Ladd Observatory at Brown University from 1896–1897.[4] After his time at Brown, he worked as an independent researcher for nearly a decade until 1906,[4] when he was appointed director of the Westwood Astrophysical Observatory in Westwood, Massachusetts.[1]

Very's most important work was in measuring the temperatures of the surfaces of the Moon and other planets using a bolometer. Samuel Pierpont Langley published in 1890 a widely read paper that included Very's Moon observations, but for unknown reasons omitted his name from the list of contributors. In 1891, Very published his own paper, "Distribution of the Moon's Heat," which also included measurements taken during a lunar eclipse.

Infrared observations by Langley and Very, published in 1890, were used to make the first calculations of the greenhouse effect.[5]

Very crater on Mars[6] and Very crater on the Moon[7] are named in his honor.

Published works[edit]

  • Langley, S.P.; Very, F.W. (1889). The temperature of the moon. (From studies at the allegheny observatory.). Memoirs of the National Academy of Sciences. Vol. IV. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office. Bibcode:1889tmfs.book.....L. Retrieved 2 December 2019.
  • Very, Frank W. (1891). Prize Essay On the Distribution of the Moon's Heat and its Variation with the Phase. Dordrecht: Springer. doi:10.1007/978-94-017-6042-3. hdl:2027/hvd.hnww3e. ISBN 978-94-017-6042-3.
  • Very, Frank W. (1900). Atmospheric Radiation: A Research Conducted at the Allegheny Observatory and at Providence, R.I. Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office.
  • Very, Frank W. (1919). The Luminiferous Ether: (I) Its Relation to the Electron and to a Universal Interstellar Medium; (II) Its Relation to the Atom. Boston: Four Seas Company.


  1. ^ a b "PROF FRANK W. VERY, ASTRONOMER, DEAD: One of America's Leading Authorities". Boston Daily Globe. November 24, 1927.
  2. ^ a b c Ogden, J. Gordon (August–September 1928). "Frank W. Very". Popular Astronomy. 36 (7): 391–397. Bibcode:1928PA.....36..391O.
  3. ^ "Prof. Frank W. Very, Astronomy Writer, Dies in Cambridge". New York Herald Tribune. November 24, 1927.
  4. ^ a b Mitchell, Martha (1993). "Astronomy". Encyclopedia Brunoniana. Providence, RI: Brown University Library. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  5. ^ "Samuel Pierpont Langley". Department of Physics and Astronomy. University of Pittsburgh. November 27, 2019. Retrieved March 23, 2019. His publication in 1890 of infrared observations at the Allegheny Observatory in Pittsburgh together with Frank Washington Very was used by Svante Arrhenius to make the first calculations on the greenhouse effect.
  6. ^ "Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature | Very on Mars". usgs.gov. International Astronomical Union. Retrieved March 23, 2019.
  7. ^ "Gazetteer of Planetary Nomenclature | Very on Moon". usgs.gov. International Astronomical Union. Retrieved March 23, 2019.

External links[edit]