Eclecticism, Opportunism, and the Evolution
of a New Research Agenda:

William and Margaret Huggins and the
Origins of Astrophysics


Barbara J. Becker

A Dissertation submitted to The Johns Hopkins University
in conformity with the requirements for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Baltimore, Maryland

Copyright ©1993 by Barbara J. Becker
All rights reserved




Celestial Photography

In November 1873, J. Norman Lockyer presented an illustrated lecture at the Society of Arts on the application of photography to spectrum analysis.  In this talk, he drew attention to the pioneering work being done by two Americans:  Lewis M. Rutherfurd and Henry Draper.66  Lockyer assured his audience that the spectral photographs these men had taken would prove to be of great assistance to those who would understand the chemistry and physics of the sun:  "I do think we have in photography not only a tremendous ally of the spectroscope, but a part of the spectroscope itself."67  In addition, Lockyer told his audience that he had just received a letter from Draper informing him that after several months of experimentation, he [Draper] had obtained, in August 1872, a photograph of the spectrum of a Lyrae (Vega) which showed four distinct lines.68  "Now that," proclaimed Lockyer, "is of the very highest importance, because the sun is nothing but a star, and the stars are nothing but distant suns."69

A few days after his lecture, Lockyer wrote to congratulate Draper: "However difficult this is the most important thing to be done in the present state of science."70  But Draper was a busy man, and he had other astronomical projects to occupy his observing time:  photographing a normal solar spectrum, for example, and planning for the transit of Venus.71  Only after Huggins published his own first paper on photographing stellar spectra in 1876 did Draper make public his own early efforts in this area.72

Lockyer printed the text of his lecture in Nature in the summer of 1874. But Huggins had already heard about Draper's efforts by then.  Perhaps he had attended Lockyer's talk, or simply gotten the news by word of mouth.  In any event, in February 1874, just before the accident in which he sprained his ankle, Huggins wrote to Draper for advice and to let him know that his attempts were not the first:

Is the process [of photography you used] delicate?  Would it be possible to apply it to the stars?  I am thinking of trying to apply photography to stellar spectra.  The few I took some years ago showed that there is a prospect of success.73

Draper's response carried a congenial, but challenging, catch-me-if-you-can tone:

I am very glad to learn that you think of continuing your former experiments in applying photography to stellar spectra.  I have made some new trials in that direction with my silvered glass reflector of 28 inches aperture and find that I can get the great bands of Vega readily and even the spectrum of alpha Aquilae.  It is a very difficult subject and requires so favorable a series of circumstances that a number of observers might work at it a long time before fine results were achieved.74

The difficulties to be overcome in prosecuting this line of investigation were numerous, particularly when long exposures were required for faint objects.  In 1875, one intrepid astronomical photographer wrote in the British Journal of Photography:

As all our work requires to be done in the shortest possible time, my first experiment was to get a collodion which should combine the greatest amount of sensitiveness with stability ... as it would sometimes be a week or more between the working nights....  In order to make reliable tests for sensitiveness it is necessary to have some means by which to compare the results with considerable nicety.  To do this I constructed a photometer....  I have made nearly one hundred trials for sensitiveness, and have kept a record of how each was made and of its qualities.75

The first paper devoted solely to spectral photography done at Tulse Hill appeared in the Proceedings of the Royal Society in December, 1876, with William Huggins as the author.76  For purposes of priority, Huggins prefaced the paper with the statement, "In the year 1863 Dr. Miller and myself obtained the photograph of the spectrum of Sirius."77  Not only was William Allen Miller an old hand at spectroscopy as we have seen in the last chapter,78 but he was also a skilled photographer.79  During the course of their 1863 investigations, Huggins and Miller twice captured an image of Sirius' spectrum on a wet collodion plate.80  The results had been disappointing:  "[T]he spectrum, though tolerably defined at the edges, presented no indications of lines."81  Their attempt to photograph the spectrum of a Aurigae (Capella) resulted in a similar line-less image.  Professing at the time to be undaunted by these initial failures, Huggins and Miller remarked:  "Our other investigations have hitherto prevented us from continuing these [photographic] experiments further; but we have not abandoned our intention of pursuing them."82

Huggins wished the reader of his 1876 paper to view this newer photographic work on star spectra as a resumption of his work in 1863 with Miller. To establish this connection clearly in the reader's mind, he excerpted the paragraph from the old 1864 Philosophical Transactions paper which described the primitive and disappointing stellar spectra photographs he and Miller had obtained.  Where the 1864 excerpt ended with "...we have not abandoned our intention of pursuing [our photographic experiments]," Huggins continued his 1876 paper by stating, "I have recently resumed these experiments...."  Thus, he neatly compressed the intervening years into a moment's hesitation.

The 1863/1864 Philosophical Transactions and Proceedings papers on stellar spectra contain the only extant record of Huggins' photographic work before 1876 as yet uncovered.83  There is no mention of any photographic work with Miller, or any other photographic experiments anywhere in the sections of the observatory notebooks which date from the early 1860s.  It is possible that Miller took the notes, or that the photographs themselves were viewed at the time as the only necessary record.  Perhaps the attempt was seen as such a failure that it did not warrant more than a passing comment.  Nevertheless, it seems clear that, in spite of their intentions to the contrary, Huggins and Miller did not continue their photographic experiments on stellar spectra.

The wet collodion process was not the only method available to photographers in 1863.  Miller discussed in considerable detail the principles and practice of such varied photographic processes as Talbotype, Daguerreotype, and chrysotype in the 1860 edition of his textbook, Elements of Chemistry.84  Since Huggins and Miller were attempting something quite new and untested in applying photography to their infant program of observing stellar spectra, it seems reasonable to assume that Miller's previous experience with the wet collodion process in his own spectroscopic research would have made that the process of choice at that time.

Throughout the 1860s, photographers were mixing substances like honey, glycerine, and beer with the collodion to prolong the exposure time available to users of wet plates.85  They also experimented with ways of increasing the light sensitivity of various types of dry plates.  The gelatine dry plate, a stable photographic plate which, although not as light sensitive as wet collodion, could bear lengthy storage and long or multiple exposures, was introduced in 1871 and quickly improved upon.86  Nevertheless, though Huggins continued his observations of stellar motion in the line of sight in the early 1870s, and made comparisons of nebular spectra with those of various terrestrial metals, he pursued this taxing research using only visual observations.  Why was he not motivated to adapt photography to his research needs at that time?

In his 1876 paper in the Proceedings, Huggins explained, "Considerable delay [in resuming photographic work] has arisen from the necessity ... of a more uniform motion of the driving-clock."87  This must refer to the problems with the driving clock which Huggins had reported in December 1874.88  A new clockdrive was installed in January 1876, just before William and Margaret Huggins began their program of photographic experimentation.89

Some twenty years later, in 1897, the mechanical problem with his clockdrive a long-forgotten annoyance, Huggins reminisced that he and Miller "did not persevere in our attempts to photograph the stellar spectra" because the available photographic methods were unsuitable for such work.  Wet collodion processes, he claimed, were inconvenient and dry plates were not sensitive enough.90  But balky clockdrives and clumsy photographic processes were rhetorical devices in these latter-day accounts -- symbols readily recognizable on the one hand by those few who had made similar efforts themselves as representative of the multitude of technical difficulties pioneers in stellar spectroscopy faced in the decade separating the first visual observations and the first successful photographs of stellar spectra. On the other hand, they served as simple and plausible explanations for the majority of readers who were unfamiliar with the field.

That Huggins bothered to give any explanation for his lack of use of photography during this period demonstrates his awareness that some excuse was necessary.  Others in London who were actively engaged in celestial photography -- Warren De La Rue and young Captain William de Wiveleslie Abney (1843-1920) of the Royal Engineers, for example -- saw astronomical needs and photographic capabilities as interdependent, one driving the improvement of the other.  Huggins' apparent willingness to wait until photographic methods had matured sufficiently to meet the demands of his astronomical research agenda indicates he had either insufficient skill or interest in photography to continue such work independently.

While published articles about the early photographic accomplishments at Tulse Hill make no mention of Margaret Huggins, it is clear from the notebooks that Margaret's photographic skill made possible an important shift in the research agenda at Tulse Hill.  Many accounts credit Margaret with having learned the basic principles of photography at some time in childhood or adolescence.  One close friend went so far as to say that Margaret's skills in photography were self-taught and that she mastered them before she made her spectroscope.91  But how fashionable was it for a young woman in the 1860s to be handling smelly photographic chemicals, or managing cumbersome tripods and other photographic equipment?  Recently, Bernard and Pauline Heathcote surveyed the establishment of photographic portrait studios in Britain in the mid-nineteenth century.  Of the 750 individuals engaged in portrait photography between 1841 and 1855, 22 were women.92  The number of women who achieved some degree of renown for their work during the early history of photography was small, but not inconsequential.93 Queen Victoria was an early patron of the Photographic Society of London.  This royal enthusiasm for photography may have encouraged women with both the leisure and the financial means to experiment with the emerging art form.  By 1873, one-third of all photographic assistants were women.  One observer at the time expressed hope that this ratio might soon increase to one-half:  "It is an occupation exactly suited to the sex."94

Margaret's interest in photography identifies her as one of an adventurous group of young women of her day.  The Reverend Edward Bradley, writing under the penname of "Cuthbert Bede," advertised photography as the ideal entree for a young lady into the science of chemistry.  Remarkable effects could be produced with little or no understanding of basic chemical principles.  At the same time, it was socially acceptable for such activity to form the basis of polite, if somewhat "mystical" ballroom conversation.  Bradley cautioned his readers that experimentation with photography had its inherent risks.  He illustrated this with a humorous engraving which depicted one mother's anxious visit to the chemist's shop after a photographic mishap left black chemical stains on her daughter's face (see Figure 29).  In the caption, the mother explained to Mr. Squills, the chemist:

I cannot persuade [my daughter] to be sufficiently careful with her photographic chemicals and she has had a misfortune with her nitrate of silver.  Unless you can do something for her, she will not be fit to be seen at Lady Mayfair's to-night. 95

Figure 29.  The perils of photographic experimentation (from "Bede," Photographic Pleasures, opposite page 50).

Photographic work at that time was a complex and often frustrating activity even for those with experience and considerable skill.  In fact, until the 1880s when ready-made photographic plates became widely available, few were prepared to invest the time, money and energy required to make photography an avocation. While the facts behind Margaret's training in photography remain unclear, there is sufficient evidence available in the laboratory notebooks to demonstrate that her practical and technical photographic expertise was considerable by early 1876, when she assumed the task of making the notebook entries.

Margaret's first entry in the notebooks was made on 31 March 1876 (see Figure 30).  She wrote:

Photographed Sirius.  Wet Plate, 9 minutes exposure.  Photograph on the edge of the plate in consequence of want of adjustment.  3 lines across refrangible end of spectrum.96

Figure 30.  Margaret Huggins' first notebook entries (from Notebook 2, the Huggins Collection, Whitin Observatory, Wellesley College).

The next entry, on 3 April states:

Took a photograph of Venus with a wet plate and 8 m. exposure.... Afterwards tried to photograph Betelgeuse with a Dry plate and exposure of 30 m.  No image[,] which may be accounted for by the sky being overspread with thin white haze.97

Nearly every entry thereafter contains some mention of photographic work.  The process employed at the start was wet collodion, although the entry for 7 May notes a comparison of the wet and dry process.  Margaret reported:

The dry plate gave best results....  These results were so good that thought I might endeavour to photograph the spectrum of Venus using the same narrow slit I had from the Solar Spectrum.98

Here we see her first use of the first person, a practice which could be attributed to the fact that she was merely transcribing her husband's personal notes about the work that was done.  There is no way to check this independently, and it cannot be ruled out as a possibility.99  However, by December 1876, Margaret was using the first person plural along with impersonal predicate phrases and sentences in the first person singular.  In July 1879, Margaret began to use the initial "W" to single out her husband's contribution to the work at hand, while she referred clearly to her own work in the first person singular.100

Margaret's entries soon reveal her interest in experimental design.  On 9 May 1876, for example, she wrote that she "took one or two photographs of Solar spectrum with a view to determining how wide I might open the slit and still obtain lines."101  By June, she was demonstrating her expertise in improving and adapting both instruments and methods to the new photographic tasks at hand:

I had a new and much smaller camera made [see Figure 31] to use in connection with the above described apparatus....  I was occupied upon all favourable days in testing and adjusting this photographic apparatus upon the solar spectrum:  at the same time testing different photographic methods with a view to finding, relatively to different parts of the spectrum the most sensitive, and relatively to the whole spectrum the quickest method for star spectra.

I found that although otherwise desirable wet collodion processes are open to serious objection on acccount of oblique reflection -- a second spectrum in greater or less degree being invariably present.  This arose from a second reflection from the back of the plate the light having passed through....

After this I used in turn Emulsion, Gelatine, and Captain Abney's Beer plates and obtained some excellent photographs of the solar spectrum both by direct sunlight reflected by a Heliostat and by diffused daylight.102

Figure 31.  Margaret Huggins' new design for a camera (from Notebook 2, the Huggins Collection, Whitin Observatory, Wellesley College).

The entire summer of 1876 seems to have been devoted to experimentation with different types of light sensitive plates.  The last mention of the use of wet collodion was made on 17 August.  After that, only dry or gelatine plates were used.  By December 1876, plates -- all gelatine -- were identified only by their manufacturer.

Margaret also made substantial improvements to the observatory's equipment which moved the Hugginses quickly into the forefront of spectroscopic astrophotography.  Even early on, she demonstrated her knack for innovation and interest in experiment.  On 19 September 1876, Margaret wrote:

Finding it impossible to feel certain whether the apparatus was perfectly axial in the telescope, I had a small brass tube made & placed as marked in the diagram.  This tube being furnished with cross wires placed very accurately at right angles:  it could be ascertained by observing when the angles of the cross wires coincided whether the apparatus was perfectly axial....

This rendered it possible to have more accurate adjustments and saved danger of throwing the apparatus out of adjustment in other respects. Instead of a scale of black lines on the silver plate, I placed two wedge shaped indicators one at centre of each half of slit, it being always intended to bring the stars into the lower portion of the slit.103

As the years went by, Margaret continued to take the initiative whenever photography was employed at Tulse Hill.  Her interest in problem selection, for example, comes out in a note she added to a letter her husband wrote to David Gill in 1879:

If only a few nights sufficiently clear come, I want to try photographing a nebula.  The difficulty would be to keep it on the slit: -- but difficult as it would be I am most eager that we should try & get some result.  It would be valuable.104

By 1887, she was sufficiently confident in her own interpretive skills to note, "I cannot feel sure there is anything on the nebula plate but William fancies there is. Well if there be anything it's practically useless it's so faint."105

In 1888, her interest turned from obtaining photographs of nebulae to photographs of their spectra.  After receiving a photograph of the Andromeda Nebula from Isaac Roberts, the Liverpool building contractor and celestial photographer par excellence, Margaret exclaimed:

It would be of special interest we think to supplement this remarkable photograph with some photographs of the spectrum of this neb.  Mr. Roberts' work gives the body:  if we can get good spectra we should have the soul.106

Following some initial unsuccessful trials in her quest for the Nebula's soul led her to suggest keeping the photographic plate in over several nights to collect sufficient light:  "I persuaded W[illiam] to gently close the shutter and leave the plate in the camera to go on with the next fine night."107

By 1893, if not before, she had her own ideas about what counted as a quality photograph and what was required to obtain one:

I was ... unable to be in the Observatory but W[illiam] insisted on working alone.  Again tried [the globular cluster] Messier 15, giving exposure from 6.10 to 9 p.m....  Developed next day and delighted to find a spectrum good enough to tell us something.  It is not however as strong as I should have liked & I regret much that W[illiam] would not take my counsel & have left the plate in so that it might have had continued exposure the next fine night.108

The Chief Nebular Line

Roughly four years separated the Hugginses' first recorded attempts at spectral photography in 1876 and the beginning of 1880 when they began trying to secure a photograph of the spectrum of the Orion Nebula.  During that interval, Margaret and William became acclimated to working together.  At the same time, they expended considerable time and energy learning photography's limitations, molding its capabilities to match their astronomical research agenda, and testing new emulsions for sensitivity, stability and reliability.

In the decade which followed, the Hugginses were engaged in two principal efforts:  the first involved their attempts to photograph the solar corona without an eclipse; the second centered on their interest in examining different nebulae to resolve the nature of what came to be known as the "chief nebular line," a green emission line which William had noted some years earlier in the spectra of several nebulae.109  This line is located tantalizingly close to, but not precisely coincident with, spectral lines associated with several terrestrial elements.  Margaret contributed actively to both of these research projects and both projects embroiled the Hugginses in controversy over methods, instruments and interpretation of received data.

I shall turn to the problem of the solar corona in chapter 6, but here, I shall focus on the Hugginses' efforts to determine the nature of the principal nebular line. This project grew out of their visual and photographic observations of the spectrum of the Orion Nebula (M42), observations which occupied them briefly in the early 1880s, and to which they returned with some interest in March 1887, but even greater passion in October 1888.  The results of these observations formed the basis of the first paper on which Margaret Huggins appeared as co-author.110  As such, this paper, which appeared in 1889, serves as a benchmark in the Hugginses' collaborative relationship.101

I have examined the notebook entries made by Margaret and William Huggins from October 1888 through April 1889 when the research for their paper on the spectrum of the Orion Nebula was being performed.  A comparison of the notebook records with the presentation of this same research in the published paper brings to light Margaret's role in this particular research effort.  It also provides some clues as to why this work and not some other was chosen as their first joint publication.

On 12 October 1888, Margaret described their plans to begin work comparing the spectrum of magnesium with that of a nebula:

I go back a day now to say a word about what we have been very busy about all this week.  We are very anxious to try and determine whether the Mg line which Lockyer asserts is coincident with the 1st Nebula line, and the Mg line which he also asserts to be coincident with our new Nebula line, -- really are so coincident.  To try and throw light on this very important point -- for much may turn on it --we wish to examine by eye various nebulae for the 1st line, with the 15" and compare directly with the nebula line the spectrum of Mg.112

J. Norman Lockyer, whom we have met in earlier chapters was, in 1888, editor of Nature, a weekly science journal he had founded in 1869.  He was also professor of astronomy at the Normal School of Science (later the Royal College of Science) at South Kensington, and member of the Committee on Solar Physics.113 By this time, he had become an arch-rival of William Huggins.  Their clash of personal style coupled with the similarity of their research interests had long since placed them on a collision course.  The issue of the identity of the chief nebular line provided one more opportunity for them to meet head-on.

Early that year, in April 1888, Lockyer had delivered the Royal Society's annual Bakerian Lecture.  In it, he enunciated his current views on the structure and evolution of the universe, views based on considerable spectroscopic examination of meteorites in his laboratory at South Kensington in comparison with the spectra of various types of celestial bodies.  Lockyer bound these views into a unified whole, which he called the "meteoritic hypothesis."  He contended that all celestial bodies were comprised of swarms of meteors in various stages of evolutionary development.114  According to Lockyer, the heat generated by collisions of large numbers of meteors in space made them incandescent.  Varying numbers and intensities of these collisions were responsible for the individual differences observed in the population of known nebulae.  Lockyer was encouraged in this view by his observation that when magnesium, an element common to meteors, was brought to a sufficiently high temperature, a line appeared in its spectral signature which was virtually coincident with that of the chief nebular line (see Figures 32a and 32b).115

Figure 32a.  Spectra of Nebulae compared with the spectra of hydrogen, cool magnesium, and meteorite glow [from J. Norman Lockyer, "Researches on the Spectra of Meteorites," Proc. Roy. Soc. 43 (1887):  134].

Figure 32b.  Comparison of visible magnesium spectrum with that of nebula [from Huggins and Huggins, "On the Spectrum of the Great Nebula in Orion," Proc. Roy. Soc. 46 (1889):  50].

William Huggins, on the other hand, considered the nebulae to be gaseous. When Huggins first observed the chief nebular line in 1864, he suggested that its proximity to a known line of nitrogen indicated the possibility that nebulae contained some exotic form of that element.116  Subsequent observation dissuaded him of this view, however, and by 1889, he and Margaret were of the opinion that nebulae might be composed of some new, and as yet undiscovered material.117 Hence, they were inclined to argue that the nebular line, while very close, was distinct from that of any associated with magnesium.

In order to gather conclusive evidence in support of their view, the Hugginses set out to compare several nebular spectra with that of burning magnesium.  Much of the persuasive value of Huggins' reports in the past stemmed from the fact that his apparatus was designed to permit direct comparisons of telescopic and laboratory spectra.  To conduct this particular investigation to the Hugginses' satisfaction required the spectrum observed through their telescope to be perfectly aligned with that of the comparison apparatus.  Margaret and William achieved this alignment by making use of the magnesium b band, the closely spaced series of Fraunhofer lines in the green part of the solar spectrum.  They matched up the bright emission lines in the b band of the laboratory spectrum with the dark absorption lines of the daytime sky.  Both William and Margaret considered this calibration to be of critical importance and they took much care in its execution.  As Margaret explained:

It has taken much trouble to get everything satisfactorily arranged.... First, we directed the telescope & spectroscope to the sky....  Then Mg was flashed in as required.  We did not leave the apparatus until we both felt satisfied that coincidence between the dark b [band] of daylight & the bright b [band] of the burning Mg was perfect....  We considered the apparatus as now ready for use.118

Throughout the fall and winter, the Hugginses directed their attention to the problem of the nebular line comparison.  In February 1889, William began keeping a separate record of his own observations in an old notebook.119  The occasional overlap in their notebook entries during this period provides sparse but valuable insight into their individual research interests, methods and concerns.

On 6 March, after a number of visual observations and one attempt to secure a photograph of the nebular spectrum in direct comparison with that of burning magnesium, William drew a sketch of what he had observed.  With the crosswire centered on the magnesium line, the chief nebular line appeared to him to be just a bit to the left, or more refrangible side of the magnesium line.120  In Margaret's 6 March entry, she mentioned that they were thinking of sending a paper to the Royal Society about their work.  To that end, they rechecked the calibration of their apparatus on 9 March.

W[illiam] then put the spectroscope on the Moon bringing in the b group so that I might observe whether the Mg lines coincided exactly with those of the b group.

I thought not decidedly....121

William's own 9 March entry makes no mention of the recalibration, but rather concentrates again on confirming his previous observation of the placement of the nebular line in comparison with that of magnesium.122

Two days later, Margaret wrote that the calibration was checked once again:

W[illiam] thought the bright line did fall coincident.  Then I observed.  I found a difficulty in getting good observations.  A number, did rather give me the impression that it was after all coincident:  but one thoroughly good observation showed me as distinctly as I saw it on Saturday night that the bright line was not truly coincident but on one side.  I left off feeling certain on the point.123

In spite of the care they had taken earlier in calibrating their instruments, Margaret noticed that the telescopic spectrum was no longer coincident with that of the comparison apparatus.  Although William was initially unable to confirm her observation, she felt "certain" of it.  William apparently became convinced of the alignment problem on the night of 11 March, and remarked casually in his notebook entry that "this state of adjustment is satisfactory for comparison of nebulae, and can be allowed for."124

While William may not have been aware of it at the time, Margaret's discovery of the lack of alignment in the comparison apparatus averted what would have been for him an unspeakable calamity.125  William's constant references in his published papers to the care and accuracy of his observations were underscored by his use of four significant digits in reporting his results.  If the reliability of the Hugginses' 1888/1889 data was ever brought into question, it would have meant not only the loss of the debate with Norman Lockyer on the question of the chief nebular line, but it would have damaged William Huggins' credibility in the wider community of astronomers as well.

By the time the Hugginses recognized the misalignment, the season for observing the Orion Nebula was coming to an end.  There was no time to recalibrate the instruments and take chances on the weather providing enough clear nights to make a second set of observations.  Besides, their only successful photograph had been taken just a week before the misalignment was discovered. Difficulties in getting good photographs of the nebular spectrum had already persuaded them to abandon further photographic attempts for the moment and concentrate their energies on visual comparisons.126  Still, the importance of having some photographic evidence to support their visual observations was uppermost in the Hugginses' minds.127  Thus, based on Margaret's confidence that their spectroscope was "not shifty," and, hence, that the observed disparity was constant over all their observations, the paper came to be written based on data acquired when the instruments were ever-so-slightly out of alignment.

The separation between the nebular line and that attributed to magnesium was clearly small.  In spite of the slight displacement of their equipment which reduced the separation of these lines even more, both Margaret and William were confident they each had observed it.  This, Margaret believed, added even greater strength to their argument.  She noted:

Now this observation is important for it showed that our arrangements really displaced the Mg line slightly to the left towards the neb. line, thus making it more difficult to observe the doubleness by reducing the true separation between the neb. line & the Mg oxide one....

This observation that our Mg lines are displaced slightly towards the left, surely gives great force to our observations showing duplicity....128

In their paper on the spectrum of the Great Nebula in Orion, the Hugginses artfully converted this potentially disastrous turn of events into a forceful argument in favor of their view on the nebular line.  They perfunctorily declared the serendipitous misalignment to be a purposeful one -- a conscious instrumental adjustment made as part of an experimental design chosen to give their opponents every conceivable advantage:

Indeed, to prevent any possible error in the observation of apparent want of coincidence of the nebular line ... the arrangement was purposely made that the lines of magnesium were seen to fall ... a very little on the more refrangible side of the middle of those lines ... if under such circumstances, the nebular line was seen on the more refrangible side of that of magnesium the observation would be much more trustworthy....129

The day after submitting the paper to the Royal Society, William wrote with almost smug confidence to Charles A. Young at Princeton:

I have just sent into R. S. a long paper on the Neb. in Orion in which I give a good deal of quite new matter, which I am sure will interest you greatly....  I took the great labour of comparing Mg-flame spectrum band in the telescope directly with the nebula line.  Of course it was not coincident....  [The paper] will probably be "boycotted" by "Nature".130

But, a few days later, Huggins' confident façade was temporarily shattered when, in several separate comparisons of another nebula's spectrum against that of magnesium, he found the "end of Mg band, came almost exactly, or very dangerously near the place where I had put the neb. line."131  A very worried William Huggins hastily penned a postcard to Young with the distressful message: "I have just made some observations which may lead me to greatly modify, the statements I made about Mg.  Please burn the letter I sent you.  I will explain in a few days."

Margaret kept no records during this period, and William only described the events in retrospect after he had finally satisfied himself that his original conclusions were correct:  "During the first half of the observations, I felt no doubt in my mind, but I was greatly disturbed by the later observations....  If the obsers. had been measures, and a mean taken the result would have been quite satisfactory."132  A calmer, much relieved Huggins sent yet another note to Young hoping to reconstruct the façade:  "I was too hasty in sending you the post card.  It was an moments hestitation only, & the results are more satisfactory than before. All I said in the letter you may accept as my views."133  Nevertheless, the Hugginses apparently could not shake their insecurity as they awaited the reading of their paper before the Royal Society on 2 May.  On 23 and 24 April, Huggins recorded another round of checks on their observations.  Once again, "Madge compared very carefully," he wrote as he finally declared himself "satisfied" that the b band of the comparison magnesium spectrum was not coincident with the chief nebular line.134

"I have added the name of Mrs. Huggins...."

Margaret and William had been working together as a team for over thirteen years when this, their first co-authored paper appeared in the Royal Society's Proceedings.  In published accounts of previous investigations in which Margaret had been an active participant, William had neither noted her presence in the observatory nor credited her numerous contributions.  Given William's awareness of this particular paper's potential for stimulating controversy, he might have introduced Margaret on a gentler slope.135  In this section, I shall discuss a few reasons why the Hugginses may have chosen to submit their first co-authored paper on the challenging question of the chief nebular line.

In the paper's introduction, we find Huggins' public explanation:  "I have added the name of Mrs. Huggins to the title of the paper, because she has not only assisted generally in the work, but has repeated independently the delicate observations made by eye."136  These "delicate observations" required making repeated direct visual comparisons of the spectrum generated by burning magnesium in the laboratory against that produced by a nebula.  The brilliance of the burning magnesium was blinding while the faint light of the nebulae tested the limits of human visual sensitivity.  Thus, the observations were exhausting ones.  In her notebook entries, Margaret complained that the dazzling light of the burning magnesium tired her eyes "even with dark glasses."137  She worried about her observations' reliability under these conditions.  Always working as collaborative partners during each observing session, Margaret and William served alternately as observer and apparatus tender to allow fatigued eyes to rest without interrupting the course of the evening's investigation.  While William may have been able to overlook Margaret's earlier contributions, these efforts would have been harder to ignore.

In a different vein, William may have wanted to add Margaret's name to this particular paper in order to diffuse or even deflect blame should a problem arise when others tried to replicate their observations.  The need to prevent such an embarrassing situation is likely to have been on his mind at the time he and Margaret were preparing their paper on the chief nebular line for publication.  In January 1889, just a few months before the Hugginses submitted their paper on the chief nebular line, Norman Lockyer, as part of his effort to find additional observational support for his meteoritic hypothesis, reviewed the existing literature on cometary spectra.138  This led him to question the accuracy of a diagram William Huggins had included in a paper written a number of years earlier on Comet b, 1881.139  It turns out that Margaret had drawn the diagram.  Feeling the need to defend her illustration, if only to herself, Margaret added the following comment to her original notebook entry made in June 1881:

In making the diagram I was in consultation with my husband.  The measures upon which the diagram was laid down were made for the most part by both of us one checking the other and were many times repeated....  But no matter how much care is taken in a matter of this sort, accuracy can only be approximate.  The characters and intensities of the lines and groups are I think fairly truthfully represented -- but the number of the lines given in the faint group between H and h is only a guess....  But while acknowledging these guesses, I wish to state that they are not guesses at haphazard, but are guesses founded upon careful examination of our comet plates compared with others concerning the interpretation of which there can be no doubt.140

Meanwhile, William wrote to George Stokes:

The diagram was drawn by Mrs. Huggins & there is a slight error in the relative strength of H & K, but the diagram was not intended to be a picture of the solar spectrum, but simply to show the relative positions of the solar lines & the new lines.141

I would propose it was useful to have Margaret in a more visible position this time to help shoulder the burden of proof should Lockyer eventually turn up some damning evidence to counter their nebular line work.

Today, it is tempting, but probably mistaken, to suggest that her co-authorship was the consequence of her husband's pioneering support of women engaged in scientific work.  That this is so can be seen in William Huggins' reaction in November 1906, to the news that Hertha Ayrton, a pioneer in the investigation of such disparate phenomena as electric arcs and sand ripples, had just been voted the recipient of the prestigious Hughes Medal at a meeting of the Royal Society's Council, a meeting from which he had been absent.142  It seems that Margaret Huggins, whether out of innocent concern for her husband's well-being, or personal interest in the outcome of the Council's vote, assessed William's health on the day of the meeting and judged him too ill to attend.  Given the turn of events, Huggins regretted having missed his opportunity to vote in opposition to the award.  He complained to Joseph Larmor, the Society's Secretary:

...The papers will teem with publications from all the advanced women!  I suppose the P[resident, Lord Rayleigh] will invite her [Ayrton] to the dinner, and ask her to make a speech.  As the only lady -- I should say woman -- present, the P. will have to take her in, and seat her on his right hand!  And all this comes from what appeared as the pure accident of my taking a chill on Wednesday.... Was it Providence on her behalf or was it 'the D-- taking care of his own' -- which?  Can we now refuse the Fellowship to a Medallist?"143

William Huggins preferred ladies who pursued scientific interests to women who sought scientific recognition.

Sufficient documentation survives to permit an enumeration of some of the factors which may have encouraged William to include Margaret as co-author of this particular paper.  Certainly it seemed to require extraordinary circumstances to draw his attention to the value of her contributions to the research they did together. In this instance, an array of extraordinary factors came together to push William over the conventional brink.

Nevertheless, the transition from sole author to co-author was a difficult one for William Huggins.  After all, it had been twenty-five years since he was last in that role.  We see evidence of his struggle in a letter to George Stokes written a few weeks after the paper's submission to the Royal Society.  In his letter, Huggins described the "labourious & anxious task" of directly comparing the spectrum of burning magnesium with that of a nebula.  But this difficult work, he told Stokes, "I and Mrs. Huggins, who is now a very trained observer of such things have done to the utmost of our ability, and with the greatest possible care."144  Thus, he justified having included Margaret's name on the paper, while at the same time he effectively created the impression that she had only recently become an able participant in the spectrographic work at Tulse Hill, an impression which, as we have seen, is not supported by evidence in the notebooks.

The image of Margaret as a subordinate rather than a collaborative partner is more clearly projected in the published paper itself, which is written principally in the first person singular.  The first person plural is used less than twenty times in twenty pages, and nearly half of the time it connotes a more general usage. Margaret is referred to twice by name when her independent corroborations of William's observations are noted.  However, it should be pointed out that no specific statement is made concerning the nature or quality of these confirmatory observations even though the paper cites the details of corroborating evidence supplied by several other astronomers.  Even more important, no attention is ever drawn to her methodological or interpretive contributions.

Changing one's accustomed mode of expression takes time, and subsequent papers co-authored by the Hugginses do show an increased use of the first person plural.  But, certainly, the reader of this first co-authored paper who was unfamiliar with the degree of Margaret's involvement in the research effort would have had no reason to assume her role to have been anything more than titular.

William and Margaret Huggins lived and worked together for thirty-five years as complementary collaborative investigative partners.  This new interpretation of their working relationship differs from that presented in the published record and reminiscent accounts.  Given the rich store of extant primary source material providing insight into their lives and work, why has the full extent of their collaboration only recently come to light?  Why has the image of William as the principal investigator and Margaret as his able, but subordinate, assistant persisted for so many years?  It may be argued that the correspondence is too widely scattered, or that the notebooks are not readily accessible to the historian wishing to examine these documents in tandem with the more visible and available published record.  These are indeed serious obstacles.  But, there is a more formidable barrier which must be overcome, and that is the power of the Hugginses' historical image itself.

The traditional and romanticized image of the Hugginses' collaborative efforts is largely their own creation.  It has endured because it has been verified and amplified by the published accounts, and because it has fitted the needs and expectations of those who have retold the tale.  William and Margaret worked hard to present themselves as classic representations of Ruskin's ideal Victorian couple:

[The man] is eminently the doer, the creator, the discoverer, the defender.  His intellect is for speculation and invention....  But the woman's ... intellect is not for invention or creation, but for sweet ordering, arrangement, and decisions.145

The strength of this legendary image is captured in the photograph of William seated alone beside his star spectroscope.  The absence of Margaret is telling.

In October 1910, after the death of her husband, Margaret Huggins wrote to Joseph Larmor, his former friend and confidante:

No doubt you know about my Pension.  £100 a year has been granted me, "for my services to Science by collaborating with" my Dearest. This I could accept without any reflection on the memory of my Dearest -- & with honour to myself as well as to him.  I do regard the Pension as an honour to him though it is honourable also to me, & I humbly hope, -- really earned for the 35 years of very hard work.  None of you know how hard we worked here just our two unaided selves.

Here we catch her in a rare moment of candor which offers us a brief glimpse of her own longing for recognition as a scientific lady.

[click on footnote number to return to text]

66. For a general overview of astronomical photography, see John Lankford, "The Impact of Photography on Astronomy," in Astrophysics and twentieth-century astronomy to 1950:  Part A, Owen Gingerich, ed., volume 4 of The General History of Astronomy, Michael Hoskin, general ed. (Cambridge University Press: Cambridge, 1984):  16-39; for a discussion of Lewis Rutherfurd's photographic contributions, see Deborah Jean Warner, "Lewis M. Rutherfurd:  Pioneer Astronomical Photographer and Spectroscopist," Technology and Culture 12 (1971): 190-216; for Henry Draper, see Howard Plotkin, Henry Draper:  A Scientific Biography, Ph.D. dissertation (The Johns Hopkins University, 1972):  33-59.  I should like to thank Howard Plotkin for his kind assistance and encouragement in my research.

67. J. Norman Lockyer, "On Spectrum Photography," Nature 10 (1874):  109-12 and 254-6; 255.

68. Henry Draper, 9 August 1872, Research Notebook XI, in the collection of the Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution.  I should like to thank Deborah Jean Warner for making this notebook available to me.

69. Lockyer, "On Spectrum Photography," Nature 10 (1874):  254-6; 255.

70. J. Norman Lockyer to Henry Draper, 26 November 1873, Draper papers, New York Public Library.

71. Howard Plotkin to the author, 4 March 1992.

72. Henry Draper, "Photographs of the Spectra of Venus and a Lyrae," American Journal of Science, 3rd Series, 13 (1877):  95; reprinted in Philosophical Magazine, 5th Series, 3 (1877):  238; William Huggins, "Note on the Photographic Spectra of Stars," Proceedings of the Royal Society 25 (1876):  445-6.

73. William Huggins to Henry Draper, 10 February 1874, Draper papers, New York Public Library.  I should like to thank Howard Plotkin for drawing my attention to this letter.

74. Henry Draper to William Huggins, 5 March 1874, Draper papers, New York Public Library.

75. D. C. Chapman, "Astronomical Photography," The British Journal of Photography 22 (1875):  630-1; 631.

76. By the time their first co-authored article appeared, William and Margaret had been married for nearly fifteen years.  Margaret's active involvement in the daily routine of the observatory during that time raises the natural question of the degree of her participation in the writing and editing of papers submitted for publication.  Unfortunately, this cannot be determined with any confidence. However, it should be pointed out that William, as Fellow of the Royal Society, was the one privileged to submit papers.  Whether or not he was, in fact, the principal author of papers submitted after 1875, every effort would have been made to insure that it appeared that way.  If Margaret participated in this process, she did so knowing that she was effectively writing herself out of the published accounts.

77. William Huggins, "Note on the Photographic Spectra of Stars," Proceedings of the Royal Society 25 (1876):  445-6; 445.

78. [Agnes M. Clerke], "William Allen Miller," Dictionary of National Biography 37, Sidney Lee, ed. (Macmillan & Co.:  New York, 1894):  429-30.

79. William Allen Miller, "On the Photographic Transparency of Various Bodies, and on the Photographic Effects of Metallic and Other Spectra Obtained by Means of the Electric Spark," Philosophical Transactions 152 (1862):  861-87.

80. William Huggins and W. A. Miller, "On the Spectra of some of the Fixed Stars," Proceedings of the Royal Society 13 (1864):  242-4; 244.  Idem., "On the Spectra of some of the Fixed Stars," Philosophical Transactions 154 (1864):  413-35; 428.

81. Ibid.

82. Ibid.

83. At the top of one page in his first notebook, there is a heading dated 18 March 1859 which reads, "Photogc: memoranda --...."  But the single entry under the heading has been partially excised due to the removal of a drawing of Jupiter on the reverse side of the page.  See verso of page containing notebook entries for Feb 11, 13, 14 and 23, 1859, Notebook 1.  Given the date of this heading, it was probably intended to mark a page devoted to records of his lunar photographs.

84. In fact, Miller devoted an entire chapter of his textbook to the chemistry of photographic processes.  See "Influence of Light on Affinity -- Photography," in Elements of Chemistry:  Theoretical and Practical, Part II.  Inorganic Chemistry, 2nd ed. (John W. Parker & son:  London, 1860):  825-46.

85. William Ackland, "The Collodio-Albumen Process," Photographic Journal 3 (1856):  106-9 and 122-5; J. M. Turnbull, "A Few Words on the Beer and Albumen Process," The British Journal of Photography 21 (1874):  495-6; T. Clarke, "The Beer and Albumen Process," The British Journal of Photography 22 (1875):  221-2.

86. Beaumont Newhall, The History of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day (Museum of Modern Art:  New York, 1964):  47-57, 83-95; Robert Hunt, A Manual of Photography (John Joseph Griffin & Co.:  London, 1853):  100-3 and 276-87; William Ackland, "The Difficulties of the Dry Processes," Photographic Journal 6 (1860):  99-103; George Dawson, A Manual of Photography Founded on Hardwich's Photographic Chemistry (J. & A. Churchill:  London, 1873):  98-130.

87. Huggins, "Note on Photographic Spectra of Stars," Proceedings of the Royal Society 25 (1876):  445-6; 446.

88. Huggins to Spottiswoode, 30 December 1874.  Huggins complained to Spottiswoode that he had been having trouble with the clock drive since the spring of that year although there is nothing in the notebook account to bear this out. Most of Huggins' observing difficulties during 1874 stemmed from eye fatigue and his sprained ankle.

89. Margaret Huggins, Note entered before 31 March 1876, Notebook 2.  See also, George Stokes to William Spottiswoode, 1 January 1875, MC. 10.188, Royal Society Library, for Stokes' approval of the expenditure of £40 for improving the clock drive.  The informal and extremely positive character of Stokes' brief note to Spottiswoode provides some sense of the confidence which Stokes placed in Huggins' assessment of what was needed to maintain the Society's telescope at peak performance.

90. Huggins, "New Astronomy," 914; idem., "Presidential Address," Report of the British Association(Cardiff, 1891):  3-37; 31-2.  See also, Agnes M. Clerke, "Sir William Huggins," Encyclopedia Britannica, 11th ed, 13: 856-7.

91. See for example, "Lady Margaret Huggins," Who Was Who:  1897-1916, (London, 1935); Alice E. Donkin, "Margaret Lindsay Huggins," The Englishwoman (May, 1915):  152-9; 152.

92. Bernard V. and Pauline F. Heathcote, "The Feminine Influence:  Aspects of the Role of Women in the Evolution of Photography in the British Isles," History of Photography 12 (1988):  259-73; 260.  I would like to thank Jennifer Tucker for bringing this article to my attention.

93. See for example, Julia Margaret Cameron, Victorian Photographs of Famous Men & Fair Women, Tristram Powell, ed., (D. R. Godine:  Boston, 1973).  Other prominent women gained recognition for their photographs, including Lady Hawarden, the Countess of Rosse, and Princess Alexandra.  See Heathcote and Heathcote, "Feminine Influence," 269.  There were also increasing employment opportunities for working class women in photography.  See Jabez Hughes, "Photography as an Industrial Occupation for Women," The British Journal of Photography 20 (1873):  222-3.

94. Hughes, "Photography as an Industrial Occupation for Women," The British Journal of Photography 20 (1873):  222-3.

95. C. Bede [Edward Bradley], Photographic Pleasures:  popularly portrayed with pen and pencil, T. McLean, (London, 1855):  49-52.

96. Margaret Huggins, 31 March 1876, Notebook 2.

97. Margaret Huggins, 3 April 1876, Notebook 2.

98. Margaret Huggins, 7 May 1876, Notebook 2.

99. In the correspondence uncovered thus far, it would appear that Margaret rarely took dictation from William, but when she did, she made this point clear to the reader.  On 6 December 1895, for example, Margaret wrote a letter to David Peck Todd which was dictated to her by William.  At the end of the letter, she explained, "My husband at present is unable to write owing to a chill having affected his hand neuralgically ... so I am giving myself the pleasure of being his secretary."  William Huggins to David Peck Todd, 6 December 1895, Todd papers, Yale University Library.

100. Margaret Huggins, 28 July 1876, Notebook 2.

101. Margaret Huggins, 9 May 1876, Notebook 2.

102. Margaret Huggins, "June" 1876, Notebook 2.

103. Margaret Huggins, 19 September 1876, Notebook 2.

104. Note added by Margaret Huggins.  William Huggins to David Gill, 7 October 1879, Gill papers, South African Astronomical Observatory Archives.

105. Margaret Huggins, 21 March 1887, Notebook 2.

106. Margaret Huggins, 4 December 1888, Notebook 2.  A number of astronomers, including William and Margaret Huggins believed Roberts' photograph of the Great Nebula in Andromeda (M31), as well as others taken by him of other nebulous objects, provided conclusive proof of the nebular hypothesis of Laplace. After seeing a photograph Roberts had taken of the Dumbbell Nebula (M27), Huggins described it to George Stokes as showing "for the first time to the eye of man its true nature.  A solar system in the course of evolution from a nebulous mass!  It might be a diagram to illustrate the Nebular Hypothesis!.  I never expected to see such a thing.  There are some 6 or 7 rings of nebulous matter already thrown off, & in some of them we see the beginning of planetary condensation & one exterior planet fully condensed.  The central mass is still larger, to compare it with the solar system, say as large as the orbit of Mercury.  The rings are all in one plane & the position is such that we see it obliquely."  William Huggins to George Stokes, 27 November 1888, Stokes papers, Add MS 7656.H1230, University of Cambridge Library.  For a discussion of others' reactions to Roberts' nebular photographs, see Robert W. Smith, The Expanding Universe:  Astronomy's 'Great Debate' 1900-1931 (Cambridge University Press:  Cambridge, 1982):  4-5. For a discussion of the influence of Roberts' photograph of M31 on his contemporaries' understanding of the structure of that nebula, see Gérard de Vaucouleurs, "Discovering M31's Spiral Shape," Sky and Telescope 74 (1987):  595-8.

107. Margaret Huggins, 5 December 1888, Notebook 2.  This plate was left in place and exposed on a number of occasions from the beginning of December until the end of February 1889, for a total of about 2 1/2 hours exposure.  No nebular spectrum was recorded on this plate, however.

108. Margaret Huggins, 12 November 1893, Notebook 5.

109. William Huggins, "On the Spectra of some of the Nebulae," Philosophical Transactions 154 (1864): 437-44.

110. William Huggins and Mrs. Huggins, "On the Spectrum, Visible and Photographic, of the Great Nebula in Orion," Proceedings of the Royal Society 46 (1889):  40-60.

111. See, for example, Ogilvie, "Marital Collaboration," in Uneasy Careers and Intimate Lives:  111-4.

112. Margaret Huggins, 12 October 1888, Notebook 2.

113. The Solar Physics Committee was established in 1878 after pressure was brought to bear by the Duke of Devonshire on the Committee of Council on Education to provide financial support for the development of astronomical physics. The Solar Physics Committee was tasked to explore new methods of observation, keep tabs on solar research in other countries and to direct the collection and reduction of new solar observations in England.  See, A. J. Meadows, Science and Controversy:  A Biography of Sir Norman Lockyer (MIT Press:  Cambridge, 1972): 109.

114. J. Norman Lockyer, "Researches on the Spectra of Meteorites," Proceedings of the Royal Society 43 (1887):  117-56; idem., "Suggestions on the Classification of the various Species of Heavenly Bodies -- The Bakerian Lecture," Proceedings of the Royal Society 44 (1888):  1-93.

115. J. Norman Lockyer, "Researches on the Spectra of Meteorites.  A Report to the Solar Physics Committee," Proceedings of the Royal Society 43 (1887):  133-9;

116. William Huggins, "Spectra of Nebulae," 444.

117. This new element was referred to by a variety of names, of which "nebulium," apparently coined by Agnes Clerke, became popular.  William Huggins called it nebulum, while Margaret suggested nephelium or nephium in order to keep in line with the Greek nomenclature used in naming helium and argon.  See Margaret Huggins, "...Teach me how to name the ... light," Astrophysical Journal 8 (1898):  54; Richard F. Hirsh, "The Riddle of the Gaseous Nebulae," Isis 70 (1970): 197-212; 203.

118. Margaret Huggins, 12 October 1888, Notebook 2.

119. William Huggins, 18 February 1889, Notebook 3.

120. William Huggins, 6 March 1889, Notebook 3.

121. Margaret Huggins, 9 March 1889, Notebook 2.

122. William Huggins, 9 March 1889, Notebook 3.

123. Margaret Huggins, 11 March 1889, Notebook 1.

124. William Huggins, 11 March 1889, Notebook 3.  Unfortunately, Margaret stopped making her separate entries in the notebook at this point and did not resume them until September, 1889.  Of course, she may have kept her notes elsewhere.  William, on the other hand, continued his entries with some regularity into May of the following year.  These entries, provide additional opportunities to explore the Hugginses' collaborative relationship as the controversy over their nebular line work intensified.

125. This would become more clear to them in the year following the appearance of their paper as Lockyer raised the issue of what he viewed as William Huggins' excessive claims to measurement accuracy.  See J. Norman Lockyer, "On the Chief Line in the Spectrum of the Nebulae," Proceedings of the Royal Society 48 (1890): 167-98.

126. See Margaret Huggins, 6 March 1889, Notebook 2.

127. At the very outset of this research effort, Margaret wrote, "If we could have such plates then we might have photographs of the complete neb. spectrum and photograph the Mg lines afterwards on the same plates as the neb. spectrum is on... At present our results are not too satisfactory:  but I hope and believe we shall succeed in doing what we wish.  It would be very important not to have to depend on eye observations in anything so difficult and important as that identity of Mg lines question."  Margaret Huggins, 24 October 1888, Notebook 2.

128. Margaret Huggins, 9 March 1889, Notebook 2.

129. Huggins and Huggins, "On Spectrum of Nebula in Orion," 48-9.

130. William Huggins to Charles A. Young, 12 April 1889, Young papers, Dartmouth College.  At the top of the letter is written in William's hand:  Please consider statement about paper confidential until it is read.

131. William Huggins, Evening, April 1889, Notebook 3.  This seems to have been written as a reconstruction of events which probably occurred between 12 and 18 April.  The next dated entry was recorded on 23 April.

132. William Huggins, Evening April, 1889, Notebook 3.

133. William Huggins to Charles A. Young, n.d. [probably around 18 April 1889 given the date of receipt stamped on the card], Young papers, Dartmouth College.

134. William Huggins, 23 April 1889, Notebook 3.  The rivalry -- for that is what it was -- between the Hugginses and Norman Lockyer over the identity of the chief nebular line subsided during the remainder of 1889, only to flare up again in early 1890.  The details of this unpleasant episode have been discussed elsewhere and need not concern us here.  See for example, Meadows, Science and Controversy, 183-6, and Donald E. Osterbrock, James E. Keeler:  Pioneer American Astrophysicist and the Early Development of American Astrophysics (Cambridge University Press:  Cambridge, 1984):  92-103.

135. As has already been noted, there is no way to know with confidence if William's adding Margaret's name to this paper was an action taken on his own initiative, or if it resulted from her insistence on recognition for her contributions. Thus, I have used the word "introduce" here in a very literal sense, to refer to the fact that Margaret's inclusion in the title of this paper was made possible by William's Fellowship in the Royal Society.

136. Huggins and Huggins, "On Spectrum of Nebula in Orion," 40.

137. See, Margaret Huggins, 24 October 1888 and 9 March 1889, Notebook 2.

138. J. Norman Lockyer, "Appendix to Bakerian Lecture:  Suggestions on the classification of the various species of heavenly bodies," Proceedings of the Royal Society 45 (1889):  157-262; 200-1.

139. William Huggins, "Preliminary note on the photographic spectrum of Comet b, 1881," Proceedings of the Royal Society 33 (1881):  1-3.

140. Margaret Huggins, n.d., but probably early 1889; added under 30 June 1881 entry, Notebook 2.

141. William Huggins to George Stokes, 22 January 1889, Stokes Papers, Add MS 7656.H1235, University of Cambridge Library.

142. Hertha Ayrton (1854-1923) was married to the physicist, William Ayrton. Her interest in fluid vortices led her to conceive of a mechanical device for dissipating clouds of poison gas during World War I, which came to be known as the Ayrton fan.  Joan Mason, "Hertha Ayrton (1854-1923) and the Admission of Women to the Royal Society of London," Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London 45 (1991):  201-220; 206.

143. William Huggins to Joseph Larmor, 2 November 1906, Larmor Papers, Lm. 948, Royal Society Library.  For additional discussion of this incident, see Mason, "Hertha Ayrton," 214-6.

144. William Huggins to George Stokes, 27 April 1889, Stokes Papers, Add MS 7656.H1243, University of Cambridge Library.

145. John Ruskin, "Of Queens' Gardens," 107.


William Huggins' Early Astronomical Career

  • Chapter 2—

Unlocking the "Unknown Mystery of the True Nature of the Heavenly Bodies"

The Astronomical Agenda:  1830-1870

"A sudden impulse..."

Reception of Spectrum Analysis Applied to the Stars

  • Chapter 3—

Moving in the Inner Circle

Cultivating Advantageous Alliances; Opportunism and Eclecticism

Opportunism and Eclecticism (continued)

Achieving "A mark of approval and confidence"

  • Chapter 4—

Margaret Huggins: The myth of the "Able Assistant"

The Solitary Observer

    • Part 2—

Celestial Photography

Diversity and Controversy: Defining the Boundaries of Acceptable Research

  • Chapter 6—

Solar Observations at Tulse Hill

The Red Flames

The Eclipse Expedition to Oran

Photographing the Corona Without an Eclipse

The Bakerian Lecture