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Interview with Wallace L. W. Sargent

Sargent, Wallace L. W. (1994) Interview with Wallace L. W. Sargent. [Oral History]

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An interview in two sessions in July 1991 with Dr. Wallace L. W. Sargent, Ira S. Bowen Professor of Astronomy in the Division of Physics, Mathematics, and Astronomy (PMA). Dr. Sargent received his BS (1956), MS (1957) and PhD in physics (1959) from the University of Manchester, U.K. He became a research fellow at Caltech, working on quasar absorption lines, from 1959 to 1962. In 1966, he joined the Caltech faculty as an assistant professor of astronomy, becoming associate professor two years later, full professor in 1971, and Bowen Professor in 1981. He served as executive officer for astronomy 1975-1981 and 1996-1997 and director of Palomar 1997-2000. In this interview, he discusses his involvement with the origins, in the early 1980s, of the first of the Keck Foundation telescopes on Mauna Kea, known as Keck I. He recalls the initial plans for a big telescope in partnership either with the Carnegie Institution, the University of Arizona, or the University of California, and the circumstances leading to eventually joining with UC on Keck I; the problematic relationship with Carnegie; and his involvement, along with Rochus Vogt, Gerry Neugebauer, and Edward Stone, in raising money from the Keck Foundation. He discusses the design competition for the proposed 10-meter telescope; the contributions of Jerry Nelson, then at Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory; and the difficulties encountered in designing and building the telescope. He concludes with an account of the decision to build Keck II.

Item Type:Oral History
Keywords:Physics, astronomy, Palomar Observatory, Keck Observatory
Record Number:CaltechOH:OH_Sargent_W
Persistent URL:
Official Citation:Sargent, Wallace. Interview by Timothy D. Moy. Pasadena, California, July 9 and 17, 1991. Oral History Project, California Institute of Technology Archives. Retrieved [supply date of retrieval] from the World Wide Web:
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
Subjects:Subjects > Keck
Subjects > Astronomy
All Records
Subjects > Physics
ID Code:279
Deposited By: Oral Histories Administrator
Deposited On:07 Sep 2018 18:17
Last Modified:04 Oct 2019 15:24

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