NOAO/National Solar Observatory
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email wcl@noao.edu

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In 1950 I got a job as an observing assistant at the Snow Telescope on Mt Wilson in California. The University of Michigan was conducting a visitor project to map the IR solar spectrum photometrically using the new lead-sulfide detectors developed during WWII. While I was there, Keith Pierce came out and spent several months conducting his pioneering observations of the spectral distribution of the sun. As his helper I learned much about laboratory procedures involving black body light sources such as the King furnace, arc lamps, the use of cryogenic detectors, etc. In my spare time I went to UCLA and got a B.A. in Physics/Astronomy.

A tradition of Mt Wilson were meals at the `Monastery'. The 100-inch observer sat at the head of the table, the 60-inch to his left (both had napkin rings engraved with their names), while the visiting solar man sat at the foot of the table with a clothespin napkin clip. There were no women of course. At these occasions I met many famous astronomers. Among these was Otto Struve who suggested I apply for graduate school at Berkeley. I did, and got my Ph.D. under Gery Kron at Lick Observatory. My thesis involved the application of an image-orthicon camera for stellar photometry. I also met my future wife `Tootie', and we were married in her home in Berkeley. But before departing Berkeley, I took a two year leave to work for Horace Babcock at Mt Wilson perfecting his solar magnetograph. Although his instrument worked fine at the Hale Lab in Pasadena, RF interference from the TV stations on Mt Wilson was a problem which I was charged to fix.

While in residence at Mt Wilson I got an offer from Keith Pierce to come to Tucson and help develop the control system for the future McMath Telescope. I accepted. The only complication was this awkward PhD I had gotten. After some hesitancy they accepted this and I became the first staff astronomer (everyone else were directors!).

My first decade at KPNO was mainly devoted to image tube work. CCDs had not yet been developed but it was clear that photographic emulsions would soon be obsolete. Roger Lynds and I had a lot of fun pursuing various devices (image orthicons, multistage intensifier tubes, etc.) with what would be considered now unlimited funds. [An AURA board member later remonstrated us for using the term `fun'.] However, at some point Nick Mayall, Director, called me into his office and said I must start doing astronomy, and write suitable papers, or be fired. So I began a certain amount of `pure' astronomical research. Using the fiber-optic 40-channel magnetograph, Jack Harvey and I discovered a new regime of solar magnetism which we called `weak' fields not seen by others.

At the time of Skylab, Leo Goldberg, who was now Director and had close ties to NASA, backed our proposal to build a synoptic Vacuum Telescope. In contrast to present ways, there was no time wasted on finding community support or peer reviews. Dale Shrage, our in-house engineer, just designed and built the telescope in one year. Jack Harvey perfected the 512 magnetograph which employed Reticon arrays. Ten years ago Harry Jones converted to CCD arrays. It produced full disk magnetograms from Oct 1973 until Oct 2003. The Vacuum Telescope building will now house a modern instrument called SOLIS.

Communist China had long been estranged from world astronomy. Leo was anxious to remedy the situation. When an initial contingent arrived in Tucson he asked who and what they wished to see. They replied they wanted only to meet Dr Livingston! I am certain Leo was chagrined. The background was that some years before Engvold and I had written a paper on solar prominences in which we praised some work at Purple Mountain Observatory. After this VIP visit I had a supply of Chinese assistants for more than a decade. These were their best people and they helped my research greatly.

Over the years I have been fortunate to have many valuable foreign collaborators. Pierre Lena and Elizabeth Ribes from France were rich experiences. Oddbjorn Engvold from Norway another one. From my Mt Wilson days I had friendship with Vainu Bappu. He was a movie buff and we went to the Academy Awards in Hollywood together. On my several trips to India under what was called the `rupee fund' I smuggled various needed equipment into India. That most durable Russian astronomer Severny was another. I took a year course in Russian, applied for and received an academy exchange position and went to the Crimea for a month in 1969. My Russian ties continue up to the present.