Charles Pollard Olivier

From Cvillepedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
University of Virginia student, ca. 1905
Charles in front of family home on West Main Street, ca. 1894

Charles Pollard Olivier (1884 – 1975) was an American astronomer, notable for his contributions to the study of meteors, double stars and variable stars. Charles was founder of the American Meteor Society (1911).

In 1911, Dr. Olivier founded the American Meteor Society as an offshoot from the American Astronomical Society (AAS). Dr. Olivier’s goal was to organize a collaborative effort between amateur and professional astronomers, for the purpose of conducting visual observations of both meteor showers and meteors appearing at random (sporadic meteors).

Charles was born in Charlottesville on April 10, 1884 to George W. Olivier and Katharine (Pollard) Olivier. The future meteor scientist was named after his maternal grandfather, Charles William Pollard (1825-1864).[1] The Olivier's large brick home, at 1021 West Main Street, was located just outside of the University of Virginia’s main gate. In 1901 Charles became an assistant at the nearby Leander McCormick Observatory.

Leander McCormick Observatory, on Mt. Jefferson at the University of Virginia, Circa 1915-1928

Charles entered the at the University of Virginia in September 1901 and continued his program of meteor plotting all of his undergraduate years (1901-1904). Olivier was accepted for graduate work at UVA’s astronomy program where his research included double star and meteor astronomy. He was named a Vanderbilt Fellow for all of his graduate education, (1905-1911) which paid $35 per month for living expenses during the 10-month session; it also provided for a room on the Observatory’s property on the mountain and free tuition for graduate coursework. The University was an all-male student body at that time.

From 1912 until 1914, Charles was professor of astronomy at the Agnes Scott College in Decatur, Georgia (an all-female student body). Charles was married to Mary Frances (Pender) Olivier (October 7, 1896-July 21, 1934).

Charles Olivier contributed to several fields of astronomy: In meteors, he corrected an erroneous belief about meteor shower radiants, and established and guided the American Meteor Society [AMS] for over six decades. He also discovered and studied double stars and made invaluable contributions to the standardization of variable – star visual photometry.

Dr. Charles P. Olivier died on August 14, 1975, (aged 91), in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania. Charles was buried in the family section of Maplewood Cemetery.

People.jpg This biographical article is a stub. You can help cvillepedia by expanding it.


  1. Charles Olivier and the Rise of Meteor Science, By Richard Taibi

External Links