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Willem J. Luyten papers

Identifier: ua-00057

Scope and Content

The collection contains articles and publications, correspondence, letters, newspaper clippings, grants, papers, slides, scrapbooks and miscellaneous materials regarding Dr. Luyten's astronomical research.


  • 1920s-1980s


Language of Materials


Use of Materials

Items in this collection do not circulate and may be used in-house only.


Researchers may quote from the collection under the fair use provision of the copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code). Requests to publish should be arranged with the University of Minnesota Archives.

Biographical Sketch of Willem J. Luyten (1899-1994)

Willem J. Luyten was born on 7 March 1899 in Semarang, Dutch East Indies (now Java, Indonesia). He earned his B.A. in 1918 from the University of Amsterdam and his M.A. in 1920 and Ph.D. in 1921 from the University of Leiden, Holland (now Leiden University, the Netherlands). Before coming to the University of Minnesota, Dr. Luyten was a fellow at the University of California (1921-1923) and astronomer and assistant professor at the Harvard Observatory and Harvard University (1923-1930). In 1930, Dr. Luyten became an assistant professor and chair of the astronomy department at the University of Minnesota. He was promoted to associate professor in 1934 and professor in 1938, while remaining as department chair. Dr. Luyten retired from the University of Minnesota as professor emeritus in 1967.

Dr. Luyten was an internationally recognized expert in measuring stellar motion and detecting dying stars, which are known as white dwarfs. By the mid 1950s, Dr. Luyten and his associates had located over 80% of the then known white dwarfs stars. In 1959, Dr. Luyten discovered the most distant celestial object in the sky at that time, known as a blue star. In 1963, Dr. Luyten was credited with finding the smallest and densest known star in the Universe. Even though he officially retired in 1967, Dr. Luyten continued to conduct research well into the 1980s. In 1980, he discovered asteroid No. 1, 964, which is named after him. Dr. Luyten was a prolific writer and publisher and he won many awards over his 50-plus year career as an astronomer, including the James Craig Watson medal, the oldest medal of the National Academy of Sciences (1964). Willem Luyten died on 21 November 1994.


14.4 Cubic Feet (11 boxes, 1 hollinger, 1 oversize)


Collection contains the papers of Willem J. Luyten, professor emeritus of astronomy at the University of Minnesota.

Other Finding Aid Available

A finding aid with a contents list is available in University Archives.

Related Materials in University of Minnesota Archives

Guy Stanton Ford papers

List of Publications within the Collection

  1. The following is a list of the publications contained within the Willem Luyten papers.
  1. BOX 1
  2. An Automated Survey for Stellar Motions.
  3. Motion Survey with 48” Schmidt Telescope XLIII,August 20, 1975.
  4. Stellar Motion Survey by Automation,July 26, 1974.
  5. Kinematics for Faint White Dwarfs.Proc. National Academy of Sciences, October 1978.
  6. The Stars of Low Luminosity.Proc. National Academy of Sciences, December 1974.
  7. Proper Motions Survey with 48” Schmidt Telescope LI.
  8. The Stars of Low Luminosity,1967(?).
  9. "Identifications and Linked Spectroscopy for Luyten Common Proper Motion Stars with Probable White Dwarf Components." The Astronomical JournalSupplemental Series, April 1988.
  10. My First 70 Years of Astronomical Research,October 1985.
  11. A New Determination of the Luminosity Function,August 21, 1967.
  12. Bruce Proper Motion Survey III.
  13. Proper Motion for 3040 Stars in the Hyades.
  14. Low Luminosity and White Dwarfs,1974(?).
  15. The Motion and Luminosities for Very Faint Stars
  16. Performance of an Automated Computerized Plate Scanner,December 1970 or March 1971.
  17. Proper Motions for 12 Quasi-Stellar Radio Sources,1966.
  18. The Stars of Low Luminosity.
  19. BOX 3
  20. Wide Double Stars with Common Proper Motion,1988.
  21. "II. Some New White Dwarfs." From Studies of White Dwarfs, with Jesse L. Greenstein, 1957.
  22. Faint Blue Stars and Quasi-Stellars,September 1966.
  23. White Dwarfs and Degenerate Stars,1956.
  24. A New White Dwarf,with Greenstein, 1954.
  25. An Automated Computerized Blink and Measuring Machine for Stellar Proper Motions.
  26. The Origins and Goals of the Automated Stellar Proper Motion Survey.
  27. Proper Motion Survey with the 48” Schmidt Telescope XXXVIII.
  28. Proper Motion Survey with the 48” Schmidt Telescope XXXIX.
  29. Proper Motion Survey with the 48” Schmidt Telescope XXVIII.
  30. BOX 4
  31. Proper Motion Survey with the 48” Schmidt Telescope LIX.
  32. Proper Motion Survey with the 48” Schmidt Telescope LVI.
  33. "First Report on a Systematic Survey for Faint Blue Stars."The Astronomical Journal, with Edwin F. Carpenter.
  34. Note on the Stars of Smallest Known Mass.From notes from observatories.
  35. "A Search for Faint Blue Stars. II: The Hyades and the South Galactic Polar Region."The Astronomical Journal.
  36. A New White Dwarf, L711-10,with Jesse Greenstein. From notes from observatories.
  37. "Explorations Among the Stars."The Explorer’s Journal,June 1988.
  38. Bruce Proper Motion Survey IV. The Frequency of Proper Motions in the South Polar Cap,1939.
  39. The Automated-Computerized Plate Scanner and Measuring Machine,with James Newcomb and Anton E. LaBonte.
  40. Correspondence To the Editors of The Observatory, "Science, Fashion, or Fiction?" The Observatory,June 1974.
  41. A Catalogue of 9867 Stars in the Southern Hemisphere with Proper Motions.
  42. BOX 5
  43. Beds I Have Slept In.
  44. Accessible Africa.
  45. Throughout the Heart of Africa: From Cape Town to Cairo, Overland.
  46. Persian Sketches.
  47. New Years for Old,by Sylvester (W. J. Luyten).
  48. The Warsaw Story.
  49. The Automated-Computerized Plate Scanner and Measuring Machine,with James Newcomb and Anton E. LaBonte.
  50. Astrometry with Schmidt Telescopes,with Anton E. LaBonte.
  51. My First 72 years of Astronomical Research.
  52. Omzwervingen Van Een Astronoom,January 1928.
  53. "Exploration Among the Stars."The Explorer’s Journal,June 1988.
  54. Nature’s Grandest Spectacle -- Total Eclipse of the Sun -- Due June 30.
  55. BOX 6
  56. On the Nature of Faint Blue Objects in High Galactic Latitudes. II. Summary of Photometric Results for 301 Objects in Seven Survey Fields,with Allan Sandage.
  57. A Search for Faint Blue Stars XXXV. On the Distribution of the Luminosities of the Faint Blue Stars.
  58. Proper Motion Study with the 48-inch Schmidt Telescope LVI. More Bedtime Stories from Lick.
  59. BOX 7
  60. Proper Motion Survey with the 48-inch Schmidt Telescope XXVI. A Region Centered at 21h + 42o.

Processing Information

Collection has not been processed.
Willem J. Luyten Papers, 1920s-1980s
Karen Spilman
March 2005
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English

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