William Hammond Wright Photo

William Hammond Wright

Born: Nov 4, 1871

Death: May 16, 1959

Birthplace: San Francisco

Nationality: United States

William Hammond Wright

Date of Birth : Nov 4, 1871
Date of Death : May 16, 1959
Birth Place : San Francisco

William Hammond Wright was an American astronomer and the director of the Lick Observatory from 1935 until 1942. Wright was born in San Francisco. After graduating in 1893 from the University of California, he became Assistant Astronomer at Lick Observatory. From 1903 to 1906 he worked on establishing the "Southern station" of the observatory at Cerro San Cristobal near Santiago de Chile. It only took him 6 months to start with observations from this new site, and he recorded a large series of radial velocity measurements of stars in the southern sky. In 1908 he was promoted to Astronomer. From 1918 to 1919 he was stationed at Aberdeen Proving Ground working for the ordnance section of the United States Army. He then returned to the Lick Observatory and worked there until his retirement. He is most famous for his work on radial velocity of stars in our galaxy, and his work with a spectrograph he designed himself. He obtained spectra of novas and nebulae. In 1924 he made photographic observations of Mars in multiple wave lengths. From these pictures he concluded that its atmosphere was about 60 miles deep.

Awards Won


  • Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society
  • Henry Draper Medal
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