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Explorer of the Universe: A Biography of George Ellery Hale by Helen Wright (183,000 words, 76 illustrations) Published under license from Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature

“George Ellery Hale [1868-1938] is the subject of this impressive biography...

Wright charts Hale’s steady progress towards leadership in the nascent field of astrophysics from his childhood experiments at home in Chicago, through student days at MIT, to his first observatory at Kenwood, all of which demonstrate his passion for unravelling the secrets of nature through the then new medium of spectroscopy. This enthusiasm led him into contact with most of his peers both in America and beyond (Lockyer, Huggins, Pickering, Rowland, and many more), many of whom remained close associates and correspondents for years after. Probably this sense of community made Hale so active in the organization of science, including the formation of the AAS [American Astronomical Society], the IAU [International Astronomical Union], and ICSU [International Council of Scientific Unions]. It also gave him the contacts to give the Astrophysical Journal such a good start in 1895.

Perhaps the greatest debt we owe Hale is for his relentless drive towards the creation of ever bigger and better facilities, starting with the still unsurpassed Yerkes refractor, continuing with the solar telescopes on Mt. Wilson and then the 60- and 100-inch telescopes on the same peak, and concluding with the 200-inch [at Mt. Palomar]...

Scientifically, Hale’s lifelong affair with the Sun brought him success in the detection of magnetic fields and early studies of surface activity by means of the spectroheliograph he developed, and for which he was duly fêted, and the frustrations of trying to record the corona. But these were early successes and as astropolitics and finance took an ever increasing share of his time, he was able to contribute less than he would have liked. Part of the problem was the illness, with both physical and mental symptoms, which progressively plagued the life of this hyperactive polymath; it is sad to note his decline which prevented him playing a fuller part in the creation of what was to become his memorial...

this [biography] is something of a classic on one of astronomy’s giants.” — David Strickland,
The Observatory

“This important biography is well written and is highly recommended.” — A. E. Covington,
Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada

“[An] outstanding biography of this most remarkable man... Helen Wright has done a superb job of tracing Hale’s development not only of new and powerful instruments and of his important discoveries of sunspot magnetic fields and the law of reversing polarities, but also of the embryonic state of American science in the early days of this century... an authoritative biography of one of the most influential men of science this country has produced. The hook will bring to contemporary scientists and historians the story of this unique astronomer whose life is of such special interest to the Caltech community.” — Allan Sandage,
Caltech Magazine (formerly Engineering and Science)

“Helen Wright gives a detailed account of the life and almost frantic activities of this remarkable scientific leader... In summarizing astrophysical events of the years 1880 to 1950... Wright has provided a useful and fascinating account of scientific development that led to the preeminence of the United States.” — Thornton Page,

“This is an interesting, informative, and authoritative biography of one of the most important figures in the history of American science... Helen Wright’s unusually well-documented book tells the story of a man to whom America owes much for its present position in science.” — Frank K. Edmondson,
The Journal of American History

“[A] detailed study of the creation of the Southern California scientific complex. [Helen Wright] has also succeeded in presenting Hale’s fascinating, but highly technical researches in a manner comprehensible to the layman, and has captured something of the half-scientific, half-poetic passion that impelled him to devote his life to science.” — Howard S. Miller,
Southern California Quarterly

“This biography chronicles Hale’s extensive contributions, both innovative and organizational, to the many areas of science and general culture with which he was involved... [a] very welcome biography.” — Deborah J. Warner,

“In writing the story of Hale’s origins, career and bequest to posterity Helen Wright has richly served her fellow astronomers. No one else could have done so well. Her account preserves an admirable balance in presenting Hale not only as a doer but also as a dreamer... Miss Wright’s excellent biography covers the highlights of his career... Miss Wright’s book is highly authentic.” — Harlow Shapley,
Scientific American

“[T]his book is not only a stirring portrait of the charming personality and unmatched attainments of an extraordinarily gifted man, but it is a reliable historical account of astronomy’s greatest era.” — Alfred H. Joy,
Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific