Plaskett Report for November 1921

The first report we have is dated December 8, 1921 and covers the work for November of that year. The work for each employee is summarized in a small number of sentences and begins with the work of the Director, John Stanley Plaskett (JSP).

In this initial report we learn that Plaskett was “Absent San Francisco, Mt. Hamilton, and Mt Wilson for 19 days”. He notes that he spent the early part of the month preparing for the San Francisco lecture.

The lecture Plaskett refers to is one he gave on November 11 at the Native Sons’ Hall, Mason Street, San Francisco. As noted by an article in the November 7 edition of the San Francisco Examiner his talk was the second in a series of “free popular lectures given under the auspices of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific”. The article comments that he is “considered the foremost astronomer in Canada”.

The report on his talk, titled “Dimensions of the Stars”, noted that he reassured the Earth has a clear path for the next forty million years with no chance of a collision! The article also noted that he stayed at the Palace Hotel while in San Francisco.

His talk must have resonated with the Editors as the following appeared on November 16.

Editorial following Plaskett’s 1921 talk in San Francisco

A little on the history of the Native Sons’ Hall is worth mentioning. An on-line article by Carrie Sisto(1) gives a more complete history. The full name of the organization which owned the hall was Native Sons of the Golden West (NSGW). The NSGW was one of many social clubs at the time. The NSGW, an organization of men born in California, was founded in 1875 with a mission of preserving the state’s history and historical structures.  The initial hall was dedicated in 1896 but was destroyed following the 1906 earthquake. The current building was dedicated on September 15, 1912 and included a large hall, where Plaskett presumably gave his lecture.

The building on Mason between Geary and Post was dedicated on September 15, 1912.

The November report includes the work of the other three astronomers on staff: W. E. Harper, R. K. Young, and H. H. Plaskett, JSP’s son.

The other two staff members at the time were the clerk stenographer, Helena Keay, and the Instrument Maker foreman, Thomas Hutchinson. Miss Keay assisted in the preparation of one paper and typed the manuscript for several others. Mr Hutchison also served as the night assistant and assisted in observations on 8 nights that month. While not working at night he maintained the telescope and performed minor repairs and alterations.