Discovering our Astronomical Past

An ongoing decades-old project to clean out my disorganized archives of childhood found in my old bedroom at my parent’s house reveals all sorts of unusual finds.

Deep in one of my closets, sandwiched between two pieces of cardboard, I found a packet of astronomical photos addressed to one of my cousins.


A closer look revealed a bit about their history.


Maxine Morse was married to my grandfather’s first cousin. Commissioned as an officer in the Navy WAVES in 1943 after graduating from the University of Washington, she was stationed at Sand Point Naval Air Station. in Seattle. Sand Point NAS is now Magnuson park, and I’ve visited the place many times without knowing a relative had been stationed there. During World War II, Maxine found time to order a number of prints from Mount Wilson Observatory.

I’ve scanned the four enclosed photos and included them below. These are unaltered from the originals besides small amounts of cropping and surrounding whitespace: printing wasn’t an exact science in the middle of a war, it seems!

Captions provided are as included on the back of each individual photograph, if available.

N.G.C. 6960
N.G.C. 6960. Mount Wilson Observatory. Cygnus, Network Nebula (south part), exposure 12 hrs., July 12, 13, 14, 1915. 60-inch Reflector.


G-101 Mount Wilson Observatory
N.G.C. 6992
N.G.C. 6992. Mount Wilson Observatory. Cygnus, Larger Network Nebula, exposure 10 hrs. 15 min., July 2, 3, 4, 1910. 60-inch Reflector
G80. Mount Wilson Observatory. Star clouds in Sagittarius, exp. 3 3/4 hrs., July 21, 1922, Tessar Lens

Maxine was a remarkable person. She met her future husband Lloyd Morse at Sand Point, and after the war she got her teaching Certificate at University of Puget Sound before working as a teacher, illustrator, and Girl Scout leader. With Lloyd, they established the Morse Wildlife Preserve.

High-Resolution Copies

High resolution copies can be found on my flickr.


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