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Post by Chicago Astronomer Joe on Dec 21, 2007 6:56:23 GMT -6
Ralph Mansfield Dead at 95
As a University of Chicago student, years before launching a long career as a junior college professor, Ralph Mansfield helped a team of scientists harness the power of a distant star to turn on the lights at the 1933 World's Fair.
A graduate of Crane High School, Mr. Mansfield was on his way toward a master's degree at the University of Chicago when he became part of a project to use energy from the star Arcturus to turn on the lights on the opening night of the 1933 Century of Progress Exposition.
A team from four observatories, including the Adler Planetarium, through which Mr. Mansfield became involved, worked on the project.
Light from Arcturus was channeled through a telescope at the Yerkes observatory in Williams Bay, Wis., then transferred to a photo-electric cell. Considered a cutting-edge feat at the time, the lighting ceremony on a misty night in late May came off without a hitch and was hailed in a Chicago Tribune story under the headline, "Star Sets 1933 Fair Ablaze."
Also at the Adler, Mr. Mansfield helped assemble the Dearborn Telescope, which remains on display at the planetarium.