Physics & Astronomy ETDs

Publication Date



Air-borne devices have been used as a means of observation and collection of information in meteorology and atmospheric physics for many years. Only in recent years, however, has the increasing use of such devices been made for astronomical observations. A balloon-borne telescope at 80,000 to 100,000 feet, for example, has many advantages: the distortion, absorption and scattering of light by the atmosphere and the dependence on weather conditions, which plagues earthbound observations, are essentially eliminated. It seems apparent that astronomical observation will eventually be able to be made only by air­borne or satellite observatories. The decline in usefulness of the Mt. Wilson Observatory with the increase in population (and, hence, an increase of light reflected in the atmosphere) of the Los Angeles area is only one example of the problem which faces many observatories presently and, with the advance of civilization, will eventually affect all earthbound observatories. Even the Mt. Palomar Observatory, which was ideally situated in this respect only a relatively few years ago, is now bothered by the rapid growth of nearby urban areas. The recent manned balloon flights carrying a telescope from White Sands, New Mexico, showed, although with only partial success, the feasibility of such air-borne observatories. In many cases, however, a manned flight is not only impractical, but unnecessary. A recent unmanned balloon-borne telescope, from which the planet Mars was photographed, demonstrated, that such a telescope can be stabilized sufficiently for fairly accurate observations.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

Physics & Astronomy

First Committee Member (Chair)

Victor H. Regener

Second Committee Member

John Root Green

Third Committee Member

Christopher Pratt Leavitt



Document Type