Chicago Astronomy Degree Recipients
Alumnus of the Day: Philip C. Keenan, 1932
Alumnus: Philip C. Keenan
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1932

March 31, 1908 - April 20, 2000

Philip Childs Keenan, American astronomer, developed with fellow astronomer William Wilson Morgan the influential MK (for Morgan Keenan) system for classifying stars by their luminosity and spectral type. In 1932 Keenan earned his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of Chicago, where he was an instructor from 1936 to 1942. In 1943 he and Morgan published An Atlas of Stellar Spectra, with an Outline of Spectral Classification. This work formed the basis for the MK system, which facilitated efforts by scientists to classify stars. From 1946 to 1976 Keenan was professor of astronomy at Ohio State University at Columbus. A prolific researcher, he had an unusually long publishing career, producing his first professional paper in 1929, on the colour of the Moon during eclipses, and his last paper in 1999, on the distances of stars from the Earth.

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