FYI June 20, 2019

On This Day

1942 – The Holocaust: Kazimierz Piechowski and three others, dressed as members of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, steal an SS staff car and escape from the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Kazimierz Piechowski (pronounced [kaˈʑimjɛʂ pjɛˈxɔfskʲi]; 3 October 1919 – 15 December 2017)[1] was a Polish engineer, a Boy Scout during the Second Polish Republic, a political prisoner of the German Nazis at Auschwitz concentration camp, a soldier of the Polish Home Army (Armia Krajowa) then a prisoner for seven years of the post war communist government of Poland.

He was best known for his escape from Auschwitz I, along with three other prisoners, all dressed as members of the SS-Totenkopfverbände, fully armed in a stolen SS staff car, in which they drove out the main gate—”a universally acclaimed… [feat] of exceptional courage and gallantry”, in the words of Kazimierz Smoleń.[2]



Born On This Day

1884 – Mary R. Calvert, American astronomer and author (d. 1974)
Mary Ross Calvert (1884 – 1974) was an American astronomical computer and astrophotographer. She started as her uncle’s assistant and ended publishing his (and their) work that cataloged over 300 dark objects (Dark Nebula). She went on to publish other photographic works on astronomy.


Calvert was born in Nashville in 1884 to Alice Rosamond (Phillips) and Ebenezer Calvert. She was the eldest of their four daughters. Her father’s elder sister Rhoda had married the astronomer Edward Emerson Barnard and out of respect her parents had called her sister Alice Barnard Calvert.[1]

In 1905, she started work at Yerkes Observatory, as assistant and computer for her uncle[2] who was also professor of astronomy at the University of Chicago. She stayed at her uncle’s house whilst employed by him.[1] He was known for his discovery of the high proper motion of Barnard’s star.[3]

In 1923, when Barnard died, she became curator of the Yerkes photographic plate collection and a high-level assistant, until her retirement in 1946.

Barnard’s work A Photographic Atlas of Selected Regions of the Milky Way was completed after his death in 1923 by Edwin B. Frost, director of the Yerkes Observatory, and Calvert. The work was nominally his although Calvert had done the preliminary work under his supervision, but it was she who did the computations necessary to complete the tables, numbered and sketched in darker objects added annotation to the reference stars. Calvert and Frost decided that it should be published in two volumes.[4] The atlas contained 349 dark objects although later editions included 352 as three were not included in error. There were several more dark objects that were on the plates but that were not catalogued possibly due to Barnard’s death, as both Calvert and Barnard had been aware of them.[5]

Only 700 copies were printed in 1927, making the original edition a collector’s item. The Astronomy Compendium calls it a “seminal work”.[6]

In 1934 she and Frank Elmore Ross published another photographic study titled “Atlas of the Northern Milky Way” based on Ross’s photographs.[7]

She died in Nashville in 1974.

Atlas of the Northern Milky Way (with Frank Elmore Ross), University of Chicago Press (1934)



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