Robert Grant Aitken was known for a lot of things but, what he was known for the most was what an amazing astronomer he was. He worked at Lick Observatory in California after obtaining his AB in 1887 and his AM in 1892 from Williams College, Massachusetts. Robert had began his career at the University of the Pacific, then transferred to San Jose, as professor of mathematics from 1891 until 1895. Robert proudly studied double stars, measuring their positions and calculating their orbits around one another. He remained at Lick for his entire career, serving as its director from 1930 until his retirement in 1935.




Contributions

He specialized in the study of double stars, of which he discovered more than 3,000 and that was a great accomplishment. Aitken had proven his great achievements of being an astronomer by receiving two medals for his outstanding work. One of the awards was The Bruce Medal, which is awarded every year by the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for outstanding lifetime contributions to astronomy. The other was the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society. Gold Medal is the highest award of the Royal Astronomical Society. Robert Aitken also measured positions and computed orbits for comets and natural satellites of planets. He published The Binary Stars and New General Catalogue of Double Stars Within 120° of the North Pole. Which the New General Catalogue of Double Stars Within 120°of the North Pole he methodically created a very large catalog of double stars. Robert Aitken contributed to star names and designation. With his orbit information it helped enabling astronomers to calculate stellar mass statistics for a large number of stars.
Aitken did much to advance knowledge of binary stars, i.e. pairs of stars orbiting about the same point under their mutual gravitational attraction. Aitken's 1910 review of contemporary research on Mars influenced future attitudes toward the possibility of advanced life on that planet.

Robert Grant Aitken
Robert Grant Aitken

Later Years
He worked at the Lick Observation from 1895 to 1935, mainly (from 1931) as its director. Aitken was editor of the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific for many years, wrote an influential book on binary stars, and lectured and wrote widely for the public.