Aitken, Robert Grant

Robert Grant Aitken (December 31, 1864 ““ October 29, 1951) was an American inventor born in Jackson, CA.

Aitken worked at the Lick Observatory in California where he systematically studied double stars, measuring their positions and calculating their orbits around one another. He methodically created a large catalog of such stars, which was published in 1932. It was entitled “˜New General Catalogue of Double Stars Within 120 degrees of the North Pole’. It contained orbit information enabling astronomers to calculate stellar mass statistics for a large number of stars. He also measured positions and computed orbits for comets and natural satellites of planets.

Aitken married Jessie Thomas in 1888, and had three sons and one daughter. His grandson,Robert Baker Aitken, is a widely-known Zen Buddhist teacher and author. Aitken was partially deaf and used a hearing aid.

Aitken won the Bruce Medal in 1926 and the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1932. Asteroid 3070 Aitken is named after him, as is Aitken on the Moon, part of the very large South Pole-Aitken basin.