Abstract

Lewis M. Rutherfurd (1816–1892) was a wealthy amateur practitioner of science, making notable contributions to the optics of astronomy and spectroscopy. He graduated from Williams College at the age of 18 and soon began a career in law. Not long thereafter he was fortunate enough to acquire sufficient wealth through marriage to permit him to pursue scientific activity, for which he had gained interest. He soon became interested in photographing the heavens to obtain quantitative data regarding star motions. A few years later he developed a spectrometer with which he obtained some of the best attainable stellar spectra of the time. Rutherfurd is not widely known because he did not fully report his work; but through correspondence and instrument development he had a profound influence on his contemporaries. He was made a trustee of Columbia College in 1858, and in 1881 he helped to found a department of Geodesy and Practical Astronomy there.

© 1976 Optical Society of America

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