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Organization and Control: Professionals and Amateurs in American Astronomy, 1899-1918

Marc Rothenberg
Social Studies of Science
Vol. 11, No. 3 (Aug., 1981), pp. 305-325
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/284644
Page Count: 21
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Organization and Control: Professionals and Amateurs in American Astronomy, 1899-1918
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Abstract

Spurred by concerns that amateur researchers would organize independent of the guidance of the professional astronomical community, professional astronomers established the American Association of Variable Star Observers and the American Meteor Society to provide direction for and ensure the utilization of amateur observations. Concurrently, the American Astronomical Society, established in 1899 after a half-century of abortive efforts, evolved into an organization open to all astronomical researchers. This paper discusses the events which resulted in this interlocking, hierarchical network of astronomical researchers and societies, focusing especially on the history and ultimate demise of the Society for Practical Astronomy - the only major effort on the part of American amateurs during this period to establish their own national society. Representing a potential challenge to the hegemony of the professionals, the Society for Practical Astronomy became the target of an effective assault by the professional community.

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