Earl Carl Slipher

Earl Carl (E.C.) Slipher was born in Mulberry, Indiana, on March 25, 1883.  He graduated from Indiana University in 1906 and received a Lawrence Fellowship, which allowed him to work at Lowell Observatory from 1906 to 1908. 

Slipher began his career as a planetary astronomer in 1907 during an expedition to the Andes in Alianza, Chile, led by David Todd, financed by Percival Lowell, and intended for the observation of Mars.  He became an astronomer at Lowell Observatory in 1908 and remained a permanent member of the staff until his death.

He was a pioneer in planetary photography and made some of the best images of planets at the time. Most of these are featured in his two books, The Photographic Story of Mars (1962), and A Photographic Study of the Brighter Planets (1964).

His special interest was the study of Mars. He gathered a unique and extensive series of photographs of the Red Planet through telescopes at Lowell and during expeditions to Chile (1907) and to the Lamont-Hussey Observatory at Bloemfontein, South Africa (1939, 1954 and 1956). His primary goal was to photograph the controversial Martian canals. However, his photographs added enormously to the understanding of seasonal effects like polar caps, clouds, and dust storms.

In 1957, Slipher acted as an advisor for the Walt Disney show Mars and Beyond (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dk7lf2D848I). In 1958, the United States Air Force commissioned him to contribute to the creation of a prototype map of Mars.

Slipher was director of Lowell Observatory from January 3, 1957 until September 1958. He spent considerable time on politics and non-astronomy activities. He served on the Flagstaff City Council (1917), as mayor of Flagstaff (1918-1920), in the Arizona State Legislature (1929-1933), and on the Coconino County Draft Board (1940-1945).

Slipher died in Flagstaff, Arizona, on August 7, 1964 at the age of 81.

Earl Carl Slipher