Russell Porter, 1891

Russell Porter was an architect, explorer, astrophysicist, artist, and composer.
For his extraordinary life of discovery and achievement, Vermont Academy is proud to honor the memory of Dr. Russell Porter, an 1891 graduate, with the Florence Sabin Distinguished Alumni Award (1988).
Born in Vermont in 1871, Russell Porter was an architect, explorer, astrophysicist, artist, and composer. After attending Vermont Academy, he studied at Norwich University, the University of Vermont, and earned a degree in architecture at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He also won an award from the National Society of Beaux Arts in Architecture. As a scientist, surveyor, and artist, Porter traveled eight times to the Arctic. Later, following his interest in astrophysics, he designed a reflecting telescope, and wrote the book, Amateur Telescope Making.”

In 1922, he founded the Amateur Telescope Makers of America, which ignited a backyard astronomy “craze”. Beginning in 1928 Porter worked for twenty years to help develop the Palomar telescope, the largest and most powerful in the world. During World War II, he secretly mobilized 20,000 amateur telescope makers to design roof prisms for sights used on field and aircraft guns and other military equipment. Russell Porter’s associates dubbed him the “Dean of Amateur Astronomers” and a “later-day Leonardo da Vinci.” After his death in 1949, the British Astronomical Association honored Porter by renaming a moon crater the Porter Crater. Vermont Academy celebrates Dr. Russell Porter and his lifetime of accomplishments.
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