Charlotte Emma Moore Sitterly

Charlotte Emma Moore Sitterly


Date of Birth
September 24, 1898
Date of Death
March 3, 1990

Upon completing her B.A. in mathematics at Swarthmore College in 1920 Charlotte Moore took a job as assistant to Henry Norris Russell at Princeton University. There she audited courses and became coauthor of papers on binary stars and an influential book on the masses of stars. In the late 1920s she worked at the Mt. Wilson Observatory with Charles E. St. John and Harold D. Babcock on the solar spectrum. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of California at Berkeley using Mt. Wilson plates to analyze atomic lines in the sunspot spectrum. From 1945 until the end of her life she worked on spectra at the National Bureau of Standards (now the National Institute of Standards and Technology) and the Naval Research Laboratory. She compiled, organized, and analyzed laboratory data and published definitive books on the solar spectrum and spectral line multiplets. These books became the essential resource for spectroscopists. In her later years she extended the tables into the ultraviolet with data from rocket-borne instruments and laboratory work.

Presentation of Bruce medal

Morrison, Nancy & Andrew Fraknoi, Mercury 19, 179 (1990).

Other awards

American Astronomical Society, Annie Jump Cannon Award, 1937.
Optical Society of America, William F. Meggers Award, 1972.

Biographical materials

Kessler, Karl G., “Dr. Charlotte Moore Sitterly and the National Bureau of Standards,” J. Opt. Soc. America B 5, 2043-44 (1988).
Landau, Elizabeth, “How Charlotte Moore Sitterly Wrote The Encyclopedia of Starlight,” Smithsonian Special Report (2019).
Rubin, Vera C., “Charlotte Moore Sitterly,” Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage 13, 145-48 (2010).
Price, Karen, “Charlotte Moore Sitterly — Astrophysicist”, Self-Rescuing Princess Society.
Shore, Steven N., Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers (Springer, NY, 2007), pp. 802-04.
Slight-Gibney, Nancy in Shearer, Benjamin F. & Barbara S., eds. Notable Women in the Physical Sciences: a UltraBiographical Dictionary (Greenwood Press, Westport, CT & London, 1997), pp. 375-80.
Ultra Carbon, “This Issue Dedicated to Dr. Charlotte Moore Sitterly,” Arcs & Sparks 14 (4), 4-5 (1969).
Wilson, Philip K., in McMurray, Emily J., ed., Notable Twentieth-century Scientists (Gale Research, NY, 1995), pp. 1410-11.


Garton, W.P.S. & W.C. Martin, QJRAS 32, 209-10 (1991).
Martin, W.C., Physics Today 44, 4, 128-30 (1991).
Roman, Nancy G., Bull. Am. Astron. Soc. 23, 1492-94 (1991).
Standards Alumni Assoc. Newsletter 90, (2), 6-8 (1990).


AIP Center for History of Physics (several)

Named after her

Minor planet #2110 Moore-Sitterly


Papers, etc.

Moore Sitterly's papers are at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). There are 1978 and 1981 oral history interviews at the Niels Bohr Library & Archives.

Other References: Historical

Edlén, Bengt & William C. Martin,“Atomic Spectroscopy in the Twentieth Century, a Tribute to Charlotte Moore Sitterly on the Occasion of her Ninetieth Birthday: Feature, Introduction,” Journal of the Optical Society of America B 5, 2040-42 (1988).

Hearnshaw, J. B., The Analysis of Starlight (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK, 1986).

National Institute of Standards and Technology, History of Atomic Spectroscopy at NIS

National Institute of Standards and Technology, NIST at 100: Foundations for Progress

Sitterly, Charlotte Moore, “Collaboration with Henry Norris Russell over the Years,” in Philip, A.G. Davis & David H. DeVorkin, eds., In Memory of Henry Norris Russell (Dudley Observatory, Albany, NY, 1977), pp. 27-41.

Tousey, R.,“The Solar Spectrum from Fraunhofer to Skylab: An Appreciation of the Contributions of Charlotte Moore Sitterly,” Journal of the Optical Society of America B 5, 2230-36 (1988).

Wiese, Wolfgang L., “Atomic Energy Levels and Other Spectroscopic Data,” in Lide, D.R., ed., A Century of Excellence in Measurements, Standards, and Technology; A Chronicle of Selected Publications of NBS/NIST, 1901-2000, (NIST Special Publication 958, National Institute of Standards and Technology, Washington, DC, 2001), pp. 73-76.

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Other References: Scientific

Russell, Henry Norris, Walter S. Adams, & Charlotte E. Moore, “A Calibration of Rowland’s Scale of Intensities for Solar Lines,” Ap.J. 68, 1-8 (1928).

Moore, Charlotte Emma & Harlow Shapley, “Photographic Determinations of the Position of the Moon,” Ann. Harvard Col. Obs. 85, 9, 169-79 (1930).

Moore, Charlotte Emma, A Multiplet Table of Astrophysical Interest (The Princeton University Observatory, Princeton, NJ, 1933, 1945).

Russell, Henry Norris & Charlotte E. Moore, “A Comparison of Spectroscopic and Trigonometric Parallaxes,” Ap.J. 87, 389-423 (1938).

Russell, Henry Norris & Charlotte E. Moore, The Masses of the Stars with a General Gatalogue of Dynamical Parallaxes (Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1940).

Babcock, Harold Delos & Charlotte E. Moore, The Solar Spectrum, λ6600 to λ13495 (US Govt. Printing Office, Washington, 1947).

Moore, Charlotte E., An Ultraviolet Multiplet Table (National Bureau of Standards Circular, US Govt Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1952, 1961, 1962).

Wilson, N.L., R. Tousey, J.D. Purcell, F.S. Johnson, & C.E. Moore, “A Revised Analysis of the Solar Spectrum from 2990 to 2635 Å,” Ap.J. 119, 590-612 (1954).

Moore, Charlotte E., “Atomic spectra—Their Rôle in Astrophysics,” Vistas in Astronomy 2, 1209-22 (1956).

Moore, Charlotte E., A Multiplet Table of Astrophysical Interest. (National Bureau of Standards Technical Note, US Dept. of Commerce, Washington, DC, 1959).

Moore, Charlotte E., M.G.J. Minnaert, & J. Houtgast, The Solar Spectrum 2935 A to 8770 A (National Bureau of Standards Monograph, US Govt. Printing Office, Washington, DC, 1966).

Feldman, U., C.M. Brown, G.A. Doschek, C.E. Moore, & F.D. Rosenberg, “XUV Spectrum of C I Observed from Skylab During a Solar Flare,” Journal of the Optical Society of America 66, 853-59 (1976).

Moore, Charlotte E., Selected Tables of Atomic Spectra. A: Atomic Energy Levels, 2nd ed. B: Multiplet Table; O V. Data Derived from the Analyses of Optical Spectra (National Standard Reference Series - National Bureau of Standards, Washington, DC, 1980).

Moore, C.E., R. Tousey, & C.M. Brown, The Solar Spectrum 3069-2095 Angstroms from the Echelle Spectrograph Flown in 1961 and 1964. An Extension of Rowlands Preliminary Table of Solar Spectrum Wavelengths (Interim Report, Naval Research Lab, Washington, DC, 1982) [abstract].

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Other Works: Popularizations, Fiction, etc.

Moore, Charlotte E., “Elements in the Sun,” Sky & Telescope 2, 3 (1943).