“Martians and a Hole in the Sky”

by Dr. George Greenstein

Most people know of Todd only as the long-suffering husband of Mabel Loomis Todd. In reality he was a remarkable scientist in his own right. The telescope that he built at Amherst College in 1905 was one of the finest in the nation, and it still stands today. Todd, a master inventor who once worked with Thomas Edison, was a leader in studies of the Sun’s atmosphere and the planet Mars.

To study the Sun’s corona, Todd undertook a 4-month voyage to observe an eclipse in Japan . . . where he met with tragic failure as, at the last minute, clouds moved in to obscure the view. On another occasion, he observed an eclipse from an airplane over Russia.

Todd was also a pioneer in studies of the planet Mars. At one point he tried to organize a nation-wide radio blackout as he ascended in a balloon to listen for transmissions from the inhabitants of Mars.