News

Mars-Crossed Lovers

David and Mabel Todd's passions got in the way of their marriage.

Comments (0)
Thursday, November 05, 2009
David Peck Todd, Astronomer

After his 1907 expedition to the Andes to photograph Mars, Amherst College astronomer David Peck Todd became obsessed with the planet and the Martians whose canals he was convinced he saw there. In 1909, he planned a trip in a balloon to an altitude sufficient to intercept the "Hertzian waves" he was sure were being transmitted from the red planet. In 1917, he was forced into early retirement. He continued to try to contact Mars until he was institutionalized in 1922, a victim of paresis, the final stage of syphilis. He died in 1939.

Todd's wife, Mabel, who traveled with him on a number of his expeditions, gained fame in her own right. She's believed to have had a lifelong love affair with a married neighbor, Austin Dickinson, Emily Dickinson's brother. He was twice Mabel's age and a mentor of her husband's.

When Emily Dickinson died in 1886, her family chose Mabel Loomis Todd to edit the collection of poems that had been discovered, and she was largely responsible for their preservation and publication.

For more on David Todd and his telescope, see Steve Sauter's Keys to the Cosmos.

Comment:

Name:

Password:

New User/Guest?

Find it Here:
keyword:
search type:
search in:

« Previous   |   Next »
Print Email RSS feed

The Zipcar Is Here
Car sharing takes hold in the Valley.
Under the Microscope
Did ex-WSU president Evan Dobelle use university resources to support an identity as well as a lifestyle?
From Our Readers
Casino Opposition “Selfish”; Cut Foreign Aid, Not Our Military
Between the Lines: Deval’s Capital Management
He can rehab his office, but what about his legacy?
From Snowden to the Pentagon Papers
Can student interest in civics be rekindled?
Fighting for the Dunbar Center
Will this beloved institution in Springfield’s Mason Square survive?
From Our Readers
A Republican to the Rescue?
Charlie Baker isn’t exactly an outsider, but in a one-party state, he sure looks like one.