Carl Lampland with stellar radiometer

In addition to photographing Pluto, Lampland also photographed comets, the planets with their satellites, and the principal nebulae of the NGC (New General Catalogue). He discovered several variable stars, novae in nebulae, the remarkable nebular appendage of R Aquarii, and changes in the Crab nebula.

He photographed many comets with the 42-inch reflector and with wide-angle lenses. Especially important are his photos of Halley’s Comet in 1910, the other bright comet of that year (1910a), and Skjellerup’s daylight comet of 1927. He took part in the Lowell Observatory eclipse expeditions, to Kansas in 1918 and to Southern California in 1923.

Much of Lampland’s time at the 42-inch was devoted to measurements of the long-wave radiation emitted from the planets, particularly Mars and Venus, and to the determination of their temperatures. He began this work in collaboration with W. W. Coblentz of the U.S. Bureau of Standards, who spent several summers at the Lowell Observatory in the 1920s. They made use of vacuum thermocouples which could be applied to small areas of the planets’ disks. Lampland developed great skill in making these delicate thermocouples and continued the work through subsequent years with assistance from his wife, Verna. 

Here are a few letters expounding upon some of Lampland's work.

This exhibit is a small sample of Lampland's correspondence.  All of his letters pertaining to Astronomy are available as PDF files on our Collections page.

Planetary Radiation Measurement

Asteroid Positions


     Hubble's Variable Nebula (NGC2261)

     Variable Star R Aquarii 

     Lampland's discovery of a Nova in NGC 5236 (Southern Pinwheel Galaxy)

Solar Eclipse Expeditions

Discovery of a new gas in Earth's atmosphere

Meteor Crater