Springer Biographies

The Muleskinner and the Stars

The Life and Times of Milton La Salle Humason, Astronomer

Authors: Voller, Ronald L

  • Details the life and career of astronomer Milton Humason from his childhood in Minnesota to his retirement in northern California
  • Includes wonderful photos of Mount Wilson at different points during the construction of the telescopes and life at the observatory
  • Explains how the work of Humason was a major (and unaccredited) player in the development of astrophysical cosmology and Edwin Hubble's formulation of "Hubble's Law"
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eBook $24.99
price for USA in USD (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-4939-2880-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $44.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-1-4939-2879-8
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $34.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-1-4939-4382-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
About this book

This is the story of the astronomer Milton La Salle Humason, whose career was integral to developing our understanding of stellar and universal evolution and who helped to build the analytical basis for the work of such notable astronomers and astrophysicists as Paul Merrill, Walter Adams, Alfred Joy, Frederick Seares, Fritz Zwicky, Walter Baade and Edwin Hubble.

Humason’s unlikely story began on the shores of the Mississippi River in Winona, Minnesota, in 1891 and led to the foot of Mount Wilson outside Los Angeles, California, twelve years later. It is there where he first attended summer camp in 1903 and was captivated by its surroundings. The mountain would become the backdrop for his life and career over the next six decades as he helped first build George Ellery Hale’s observatory on the summit and then rose to become one of that institution’s leading figures through the first half of the twentieth century.

The story chronicles Humason’s life on Mount Wilson, from his first trip to the mountain to his days as a muleskinner, leading teams of mules hauling supplies to the summit during the construction of the observatory, and follows him through his extraordinary career in spectroscopy, working beside Edwin Hubble as the two helped to reconstruct our concept of the universe. A patient, knowledgeable and persistent observer, Humason was later awarded an honorary doctorate for his work, despite having no formal education beyond the eighth grade. His skill at the telescope is legendary. During his career he photographed the spectra of stars, galaxies and other objects many thousands of times fainter than can be seen with the naked eye and pushed the boundary of the known universe deeper into space than any before him. His work, which included assisting in the formulation of Hubble’s Law of redshifts, helped to set the field of cosmology solidly on its foundation.

Milton Humason was one of the most charismatic characters in science during the first half of the 20th century. Uneducated, streetwise, moonshining, roguish, humble and thoroughly down to earth, he rose by sheer chance, innate ability and incredible will to become the leading deep space observer of his day. “The Renaissance man of Mount Wilson,” as Harlow Shapley once referred to him, Humason’s extraordinary life reminds us that passion and purpose may find us at any moment.

About the authors

Ron L. Voller is an author, illustrator, musician, singer, songwriter, historian and sculptor living in New York City. He is the author/illustrator of 'The Adventures of Jude and the Guitar of Galore' (Author House, 2006). Ron received his B.A. in music and literature from the University of Denver. He began writing seriously twelve years ago after a successful career as a musician. He has written much in almost every genre of literature and has self-published one children's book, which he also illustrated. He has recently submitted an article for publication to Astronomy magazine. Dan Lewis, Dibner Senior Curator, History of Science & Technology at Huntington Library, has referred to Ron as the "world's foremost authority on Milton Humason."

Reviews

“This fascinating book charts in detail the very different path taken by one of the 20th Century’s most productive scientists: Milton La Salle Humason. … This is a splendid story, about a very ‘can-do’ man, a tale nicely fleshed out by snippets of history of the times – social, political, and astronomical – which give it context. … Scattered throughout are snaps from what might be a family album, and they add nicely to this valuable history.” (David Stickland, The Observatory, Vol. 136 (1252), June, 2016)

“Ronald L. Voller has produced a spectacularly rich and detailed biography of Humason, something we did not have until now. … I highly recommend this thoroughly entertaining book to anyone who loves astronomy, scientific biography, or the power of the human spirit. It is a masterfully researched and entertaining work, and you will not be disappointed by making it a nightly companion.” (David Eicher, Astronomy Magazine, Blog Dave's Universe, cs.astronomy.com, October, 2015)


Table of contents (11 chapters)

Buy this book

eBook $24.99
price for USA in USD (gross)
  • ISBN 978-1-4939-2880-4
  • Digitally watermarked, DRM-free
  • Included format: EPUB, PDF
  • ebooks can be used on all reading devices
  • Immediate eBook download after purchase
Hardcover $44.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-1-4939-2879-8
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
Softcover $34.99
price for USA in USD
  • ISBN 978-1-4939-4382-1
  • Free shipping for individuals worldwide
  • Usually dispatched within 3 to 5 business days.
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Bibliographic Information

Bibliographic Information
Book Title
The Muleskinner and the Stars
Book Subtitle
The Life and Times of Milton La Salle Humason, Astronomer
Authors
Series Title
Springer Biographies
Copyright
2016
Publisher
Springer-Verlag New York
Copyright Holder
Springer Science+Business Media New York
eBook ISBN
978-1-4939-2880-4
DOI
10.1007/978-1-4939-2880-4
Hardcover ISBN
978-1-4939-2879-8
Softcover ISBN
978-1-4939-4382-1
Series ISSN
2365-0613
Edition Number
1
Number of Pages
XLV, 196
Topics