Van de Kamp, Peter

From Astro-Databank
Jump to: navigation, search
Van de Kamp, Peter Gender: M
born on 26 December 1901 at 14:00 (= 2:00 PM )
Place Kampen, Netherlands, 52n33, 5e54
Timezone LST m4e53 (is standard time)
Data source
BC/BR in hand
Rodden Rating AA
Collector: Astrodienst
Astrology data s_su.18.gif s_capcol.18.gif 04°07' s_mo.18.gif s_cancol.18.gif 18°43 Asc.s_gemcol.18.gif 08°28'


Dutch-American astronomer, best known for his exoplanet quest.

He was the son of Lubbertus van de Kamp (1873, Ijsselmuiden - ) and Engelina Cornelia Adriana van der Wal (1876, Alkmaar - 9 August 1938, Kampen), who married 7 March 1901 in Kampen. His brother Jacob van de Kamp (5 June 1904 1 PM, Kampen - 22 November 1973, Basking Ridge) became a noted Dutch-American chemist.

Peter studied astronomy at age 17 in Utrecht (1918) and got his first job at the Kapteyn Astronomical Institute in Groningen under his promoter Pieter Johannes van Rhijn. In 1923 he studied at the Leander McCormick Observatory at the University of Virginia for a year's residence supported by the Draper Fund of the National Academy of Sciences. He assisted Samuel Alfred Mitchell with his extensive stellar parallax program and Harold Alden with the lengthy Boss star project.

The following year Van de Kamp went to the Lick Observatory in California as a Kellogg fellow. June 1925 he received his Ph.D. in astronomy from the University of California at age 23. The next year on 26 November he also received a PhD from the University of Groningen under Pieter van Rhijn. Van de Kamp returned to McCormick on 1 October 1925 to take up the position left vacant by Harold Alden, who had just taken up the directorship of the Yale University Observatory Southern Station in Johannesburg, South Africa.

His work consisted of assisting with the parallax program and continuing the proper motion work that he and Alden had begun. Van de Kamp and Alexander N. Vyssotsky spent eight years measuring 18,000 proper motions. He did additional, smaller projects individually, including an investigation for general and selective absorption of light within the Milky Way.

From 1937 till 1972, Peter van de Kamp was director of the astronomical Sproul Observatory in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania, United States. Under his lead, the observatory made numerous claims of planetary systems of several nearby the sun in our Milky Way stars based on astrometry, studying parallax and proper motions of stars, using photographic plates made with the 24 inch refractor telescope.

In an article received on 21 June 1963 and published September 1963 by The Astronomical Journal, van de Kamp claimed that a giant planet, about 11 times the mass of Jupiter, was in a 24-year orbit around the Barnard's Star. But in 1973, a year after his retirement from Swarthmore, it was discovered that the measurement apparatus contained a systematic artefact, that was misinterpreted by Van de Kamp as the effects of supposed planets on their stars.

In 1972 Van de Kamp retired from Swarthmore and returned to the Netherlands. Here he became Fulbright Professor to the University of Amsterdam.

Although Van der Kamp eventually did not succeed in proving the existence of the by him supposed "large numbers" of extrasolar bodies larger than Jupiter and smaller than stars, his quest for evidence of other planets beyond our solar system was joined by others and resulted in the discovery of exoplanets and brown dwarfs.

He won several prices and the on 24 September 1960 discovered asteroid 1965 was named after him.

He died on 18 May 1995 in Middenbeemster, near Amsterdam. In his orbituary, Sarah Lee Lippincott said: Peter van de Kamp always expressed the belief that Astronomy was a marvelous synthesis of art and science, and he patterned his successful life in that fashion.

Link to Wikipedia


  • business associate/partner relationship with Oort, Jan Hendrik (born 28 April 1900). Notes: In 1926 both were PhD students of Pieter van Rhijn in Groningen.
  • friend relationship with Ornstein, Leonard (born 12 November 1880). Notes: tried to help him to escape to the USA. Ornstein refused.


  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 30 November 1926 in Groningen (Thesis: De Zonsbeweging met betrekking tot apparent zwakke sterren)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1941 (Mean secular parallaxes of faint stars)
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1952 (Basic Astronomy)
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1954 (The Nearest Stars)
  • Other Misc. 24 September 1960 (1965 van de Kamp (2521 P–L) astreroid discovered)
    chart Placidus Equal_H.
  • Work : Published/ Exhibited/ Released 1962 (De onmetelijke ruimte)
  • Death, Cause unspecified 18 May 1995 in Middenbeemster
    chart Placidus Equal_H.

Source Notes

Svi retrieved 26 December 1901 at 14:00 from online municipal archive of Kampen.

Levensbericht P. van de Kamp - KNAW

Peter van de Kamp (1901 - 1995) | American Astronomical Society


  • Traits : Mind : Education extensive
  • Vocation : Science : Astronomy
  • Vocation : Writers : Textbook/ Non-fiction (astronomy)
  • Notable : Extraordinary Talents : For Music (played violin and piano, composed and was a conductor of amateur orchestra's)
  • Notable : Famous : First in Field (Parallax study of stars)
  • Notable : Famous : Top 5% of Profession