Chicago Astronomy Degree Recipients
Alumnus of the Day: Arne E. Slettebak, 1949
Alumnus: Arne E. Slettebak
Ph.D., University of Chicago, 1949

August 8, 1925 - May 20, 1999


Arne Slettebak was born of Norwegian parents in Freistadt Danzig (now Gdansk, Poland) on August 8th, 1925, and emigrated to the United States with his family in 1927, becoming a US citizen in 1932. He graduated with a BS in physics from the University of Chicago in 1945 and received a PhD in 1949. His PhD dissertation was on the rotational velocities of O and B stars under the guidance of W.W. Morgan. He began his professional career as an instructor at OSU in 1949, becoming full professor in 1959, when he assumed the directorship of Perkins Observatory, a position he held until 1978.

Arne was instrumental in returning astronomy at Ohio State to the status of an independent department in 1962. As chair from 1962 to 1987, he led the effort to build up the department in the post-Sputnik era. He supervised its move from the decaying McMillin Observatory and Orton Hall into quarters in the then-new Smith Physics Laboratory addition, which included creating the planetarium that now bears his name. Arne was also instrumental in forging the agreement among OSU, Ohio Wesleyan University, and Lowell Observatory to move the 69-inch Perkins telescope from Perkins Observatory in Delaware, Ohio to the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff. There its optics were upgraded to a 72-inch mirror, which served as the department's primary research instrument until 1998.

At their April 10, 2015 meeting, the Ohio State University Board of Trustees in recognition of contributions to the College of Arts and Sciences by Gerald and Ann Newsom and David and Sheryl Price, approved the planetarium's official new name: the Arne Slettebak Planetarium.

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