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Papers of Alan Hunter, 1934 - 1978

Reference Code: GBR/0180/RGO 12

Scope and Contents

The collection contains a wide range of material relating to the activities of the Royal Greenwich Observatory during Dr Hunter's time as Director, with some additional papers from other periods. The majority of the papers belong to three main categories: the internal affairs of the Observatory, especially staffing and structuring; the meetings and activities of various boards and committees; and the design, acquisition and use of instruments and other equipment, particularly cosmic ray equipment.


  • Creation: 1934 - 1978


Biographical / Historical

Alan Hunter (1912-1995), a spectroscopist, was born on 9 September 1912, the son of George Hunter and Mary Edwards. He joined the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, as an Assistant in 1937, and remained there for the rest of his career, with the exception of the years 1940 to 1946, when he was seconded to the Royal Naval College at Greenwich. Hunter was promoted to Chief Assistant at the R.G.O. in 1961, and became Deputy Director in 1967. He was Acting Director during the first part of the 1972, and became Director in 1973. As Joint Secretary of the Royal Greenwich Observatory Committee of the Science Research Council during 1965-1973, he played an instrumental role in facilitating the transfer of control from the Admiralty to the Science Research Council. He was also heavily involved in the discussions with the Science Research Council on the future role of the R.G.O. in British astronomy. Hunter retired as Director in 1975, and died in 1995.

Hunter's career featured two notable expeditions. In April 1947 he was involved in a tragic incident when the aircraft in which he was travelling to observe the total eclipse of the Sun in Brazil on 20 May crashed at Duhar, killing two of his colleagues. In 1954 he was part of an expedition to the Swedish island of Syd Koster to study the gravitational deflection of light. The project was hindered by cloudy conditions which, whilst not completely covering the total phase, prevented any useable star images from being seen on the plates.


11 archive box(es) (11 boxes) : paper/photograph

Language of Materials


Other Finding Aids

A word-processed handlist is available in the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The majority of the papers became part of the Observatory's archives subsequent to Dr Hunter's retirement from the Directorship. Several additional items were added to the collection later.


This description was created by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives.


Hunter, Alan

Finding aid date

2006-07-19 13:52:29+00:00

Includes index.

Repository Details

Part of the Cambridge University Library Repository

Cambridge University Library
West Road
Cambridge CB3 9DR United Kingdom