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Zdenek Kopal Papers

Date range: 1950s-1980s.

Zdenek Kopal (1914-1993) was Professor of Astronomy at Manchester University from 1951 until 1981, during the era of the `Space Race', the development of satellites and lunar exploration. Kopal was born in Litomysl in eastern Bohemia (now the Czech Republic) and his interest in astronomy developed during adolescence (he published his first paper at the age of sixteen).

He taught at Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology during and after the Second World War, before moving to Manchester in 1951 to take up the new Chair of Astronomy. Kopal developed the Astronomy Department to achieve international status, and was instrumental in establishing the Manchester Lunar Programme, the lunar mapping project which paved the way for the Apollo missions.

He is credited with producing 396 papers on optical astronomy.

The papers include a very large quantity of correspondence, including letters from fellow astronomers in the United States and the Soviet Union, early lunar charts and glass-plate photographs of the moon, numerous drafts of papers by Kopal, and a large collection of offprints and copies of articles by other scientists on satellite programmes, lunar exploration, and co-operation between British, American and Russian astronomers.

Finding aids

Recorded in general printed-book catalogue.


The John Rylands Library

Using the reading rooms in the John Rylands Library

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