OSA | Living History

Richard Tousey

Emil Wolf (l) and Richard Tousey (r)

OSA Awards & Distinctions



Richard Tousey was born 18 May 1908 in Somerville, Massachusetts. He received a bachelor's degree from Tufts University (1928), then MA (1929) and Ph.D. (1933) in physics from Harvard University. His dissertation related to measuring optical properties of fluorite at 1216 angstroms was completed under Theodore Lyman. Tousey was an American astronomer. He was a pioneer in the observation of the sun from space and took the first photographs of the sun’s ultraviolet spectrum. He taught and conducted research at Harvard from 1933-1936 and then at Tufts until 1941. Tousey then joined the Naval Research Laboratory upon invitation from E.O. Hulburt. His initial work focused on night vision Later, using captured V-2 rockets made available for research at White Sands Missile Range, he was able to measure the first ultraviolet (UV) spectrum of the sun.

Tousey served on the OSA Board of Directors in the 1950s and was the winner of the Society's highest honor, the Frederic Ives Medal/Jarus Quinn Prize. He was also 1963 recipient of the Henry Draper Medal and the 1964 recipient of the Eddington Medal. He received an honorary Doctor of Science from Tufts in 1961 and was awarded the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship in 1966.

Tousey died 1997.



Document Created: 24 Apr 2018
Last Updated: 22 Nov 2019