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George Ellery Hale: Solar Physics and Related Inventions, 1927

Over All Else

George Ellery Hale was born in Chicago on June 29, 1868, the eldest of three children, into a family of wealthy circumstances. His father, William Ellery Hale, was an inventor and manufacturer of elevators for the multi-story buildings being built in Chicago and elsewhere. Hale attended public school and then, at age fourteen, entered the Chicago Manual Training School which added instruction in mechanical ability to standard scholarly subjects. Hale's interest in astronomy developed and, encouraged by his parents, he acquired a telescope and designed a home workshop/observatory which included a 4-inch Clark refractor on the roof. Here, at the age of fifteen, he photographed the May 1883, solar eclipse. Later in life Hale said of astronomy that "he would rather do such work than anything else in the world."

Thus Hale began a life in science which combined grand ideas that became world famous observatories and individual research on solar activity that increased fundamental knowledge of the universe—many of these achievements reached before his thirty-sixth birthday.