Henry Norris Russell

Henry Norris Russell

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Henry Norris Russell was an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

 who, along with Ejnar Hertzsprung
Ejnar Hertzsprung
Ejnar Hertzsprung was a Danish chemist and astronomer.Hertzsprung was born in Copenhagen. In the period 1911–1913, together with Henry Norris Russell, he developed the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram....

, developed the Hertzsprung–Russell diagram
Hertzsprung–Russell diagram
The Hertzsprung–Russell diagram is a scatter graph of stars showing the relationship between the stars' absolute magnitudes or luminosities versus their spectral types or classifications and effective temperatures. Hertzsprung–Russell diagrams are not pictures or maps of the locations of the stars...

 (1910). In 1923, working with Frederick Saunders, he developed Russell–Saunders coupling which is also known as LS coupling.


Russell was born in 1877 in Oyster Bay, New York
Oyster Bay (town), New York
The Town of Oyster Bay is easternmost of the three towns in Nassau County, New York, in the United States. Part of the New York metropolitan area, it is the only town in Nassau County that extends from the North Shore to the South Shore of Long Island. As of the 2010 census, the town population was...

. He studied astronomy at Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

, obtaining his B.A.
Bachelor of Arts
A Bachelor of Arts , from the Latin artium baccalaureus, is a bachelor's degree awarded for an undergraduate course or program in either the liberal arts, the sciences, or both...

 in 1897 and his doctorate in 1899, studying under Charles Augustus Young
Charles Augustus Young
Charles Augustus Young was an American astronomer.He graduated from Dartmouth and later became a professor there in 1865, remaining until 1877 when he went to Princeton....

. From 1903 to 1905, he worked at the Cambridge Observatory
Cambridge Observatory
Cambridge Observatory is an astronomical observatory at the University of Cambridge in the East of England. It was first established in 1823 and is now part of the site of the Institute of Astronomy...

 with Arthur Robert Hinks
Arthur Robert Hinks
Arthur Robert Hinks, CBE, FRS was a British astronomer and geographer..As an astronomer, he is best known for his work in determining the distance from the Sun to the Earth from 1900–1909: for this achievement, he was awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society and was elected a...

 as a research assistant of the Carnegie Institution and came under the strong influence of George Darwin
George Darwin
Sir George Howard Darwin, FRS was an English astronomer and mathematician.-Biography:Darwin was born at Down House, Kent, the second son and fifth child of Charles and Emma Darwin...


He returned to Princeton to become an instructor in astronomy (1905–1908), assistant professor (1908–1911), professor (1911–1927) and research professor (1927–1947). He was also the director of the Princeton University Observatory from 1912 to 1947. He died in Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton, New Jersey
Princeton is a community located in Mercer County, New Jersey, United States. It is best known as the location of Princeton University, which has been sited in the community since 1756...

 in 1957 at the age of 79.

In November 1908 Russell married Lucy May Cole. They had four children. Their youngest daughter, Margaret, married the astronomer Frank K. Edmondson
Frank K. Edmondson
Frank K. Edmondson was an American astronomer.-Life and career:Edmondson was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and grew up in Seymour, Indiana...

 in the 1930s.

Published work

He co-wrote an influential two-volume textbook in 1927 with Raymond Smith Dugan
Raymond Smith Dugan
Raymond Smith Dugan was an American astronomer and a graduate of Amherst College in Massachusetts .Dugan obtained his Masters Degree from Amherst College in 1902, and then received his Ph.D...

 and John Quincy Stewart
John Quincy Stewart
John Quincy Stewart was an American astrophysicist.He obtained his Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University in 1919...

: Astronomy: A Revision of Young’s Manual of Astronomy (Ginn & Co., Boston, 1926–27, 1938, 1945). This became the standard astronomy textbook for about two decades. There were two volumes: the first was The Solar System and the second was Astrophysics and Stellar Astronomy. The textbook popularized the idea that a star's properties (radius, surface temperature, luminosity
Luminosity is a measurement of brightness.-In photometry and color imaging:In photometry, luminosity is sometimes incorrectly used to refer to luminance, which is the density of luminous intensity in a given direction. The SI unit for luminance is candela per square metre.The luminosity function...

, etc.)
were largely determined by the star's mass and chemical composition, which became known as the Vogt-Russell theorem
Vogt-Russell theorem
The Vogt-Russell theorem, named after Heinrich Vogt and Henry Norris Russell, states that:The mass and the composition structure throughout a star uniquely determine its radius, luminosity, and internal structure, as well as its subsequent evolution....

(including Heinrich Vogt who independently discovered the result). Since a star's chemical composition
gradually changes with age (usually in a non-homogeneous fashion), stellar evolution
Stellar evolution
Stellar evolution is the process by which a star undergoes a sequence of radical changes during its lifetime. Depending on the mass of the star, this lifetime ranges from only a few million years to trillions of years .Stellar evolution is not studied by observing the life of a single...


Awards and honors

  • Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. The Academy’s elected members are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs.James Bowdoin, John Adams, and...

  • Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
    Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
    -History:In the early years, more than one medal was often awarded in a year, but by 1833 only one medal was being awarded per year. This caused a problem when Neptune was discovered in 1846, because many felt an award should jointly be made to John Couch Adams and Urbain Le Verrier...

  • Henry Draper Medal
    Henry Draper Medal
    The Henry Draper Medal is awarded by the United States National Academy of Sciences "for investigations in astronomical physics". Named after Henry Draper, the medal is awarded with a gift of USD $15,000...

     from the National Academy of Sciences
    United States National Academy of Sciences
    The National Academy of Sciences is a corporation in the United States whose members serve pro bono as "advisers to the nation on science, engineering, and medicine." As a national academy, new members of the organization are elected annually by current members, based on their distinguished and...

  • Bruce Medal
    Bruce Medal
    The Catherine Wolfe Bruce Gold Medal is awarded every year by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for outstanding lifetime contributions to astronomy. It is named after Catherine Wolfe Bruce, an American patroness of astronomy, and was first awarded in 1898...

  • Rumford Prize
    Rumford Prize
    Founded in 1796, the Rumford Prize, awarded by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, is one of the oldest scientific prizes in the United States. The prize recognizes contributions by scientists to the fields of heat and light...

  • Franklin Medal
    Franklin Medal
    The Franklin Medal was a science and engineering award presented by the Franklin Institute, of Philadelphia, PA, USA.-Laureates:*1915 - Thomas Alva Edison *1915 - Heike Kamerlingh Onnes *1916 - John J...

  • Foreign Member of the Royal Society
    Royal Society
    The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

  • Henry Norris Russell Lectureship
    Henry Norris Russell Lectureship
    The Henry Norris Russell Lectureship is awarded each year by the American Astronomical Society in recognition of a lifetime of excellence in astronomical research.-Previous lecturers:This list of lecturers is from the American Astronomical Society's website....