January 26, 1913–November 1, 1987
BY LAWRENCE H. ALLER
LEO GOLDBERG WAS ONE of the most distinguished leaders of the astronomical community in this century. He achieved outstanding success in the application of atomic physics to astrophysical problems, and is best known for pioneering efforts in the study of the sun from space. He was director of three important observatories: University of Michigan (1946–60), Harvard (1960–71), and Kitt Peak National Observatory (1971–77). He played an important role in founding the Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Kitt Peak National Observatory, and the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. He contributed real leadership as president of the American Astronomical Society (1964–66) and the International Astronomical Union (1971–76).
Goldberg came from a family of very limited resources, emerging as a Horatio Alger-type hero in the academic world. His experience is an irrefutable answer to those who would deny a young person a chance in life because he happens to be poor. Goldberg's parents emigrated from East Poland, then part of the Russian Empire, before World War I. His father worked in the needle trades: men's caps and for a time in ladies' millinery. In 1922, when Leo was nine, a disastrous fire destroyed their Brooklyn tenement home and