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Walter H. Haas papers

Identifier: Ms-0399

Scope and Content

The Walter H. Haas Papers contain material on Mr. Haas' career in astronomical research and related observations. Though the term "amateur astronomer" is used to identify those field researchers whose credentials are from the other academic fields, much of the work of the Association of Lunar Planetary Observers (ALPO) and other academic groups involves meticulous research notes and field work. Included among these are correspondence, convention materials, printed material, and research drawings and photographs.

The Haas Papers are divided into five different series: Correspondence, Astronomical Leagues and Conventions, Research and Observations, Printed Materials, and Photographs. All the arranged correspondence is grouped by year or month, depending on the volume of mail received. League and Convention material contains correspondence, programs, and newsletters about conventions and astronomical leagues. These materials are arranged by event and year, unless otherwise noted. Research and Observations contain working files of Haas' study of astronomy and the planets. Often photographs or drawings accompany the notes from a particular subject, such as a planet. These were copied and placed with the correspondence, while the original photographs were arranged in a separate series. These also covered other phenomena, such as lunar and solar eclipses.

Printed Materials series forms the basis for other research materials within Mr. Haas' body of work. The materials contained within the Photographs series correspond mostly to Research and Observations series, as well as to some League and Convention material.


  • 1935 - 2002

Access and Use Restrictions

This material may be examined by researchers under supervised conditions in the Search Room.

Copy Restrictions

Limited duplication is allowed for research purposes. User is responsible for compliance with all copyright and other applicable statutes.

All literary rights possessed in this collection have been transferred and assigned to New Mexico State University.

Biographical Sketch

Walter H. Haas was born on July 3, 1917 in New Waterford, Ohio, a farming community outside of Youngstown. Early in life, he was interested in astronomy. As a young man, he borrowed a telescope from his future mentor, Mr. John H. Chase, and made his first observations of the night skies. He graduated from New Waterford High School in 1934, and accepted a job offer in 1935 with Dr. W. H. Pickering of Harvard University to study astronomy that summer in Jamaica. It was Mr. Chase who extended the original time agreement and covered Haas's expenses while he was in Jamaica. This experience, Haas notes, was what showed him the importance of writing down observational notes in the study of astronomy. He later attended Mt. Union College in Alliance, Ohio, earning a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree in mathematics in 1939. He then attended the Case Institute of Applied Science in Cleveland (now Case Western Reserve University) in order to study at the Warner and Swazey Observatory.

Haas continued his education at Ohio State University in Columbus. He defended his Masters' thesis in 1941, earning an Masters' Degree in Mathematics. Haas then moved to Philadelphia for continued graduate study at the Flower Observatory, and later taught in the Navy V-5 and V-7 Programs at the University of Pennsylvania from 1943-1945. This facility received a great deal of use after the outbreak of World War II. Haas, following the end of the war, accepted a position teaching mathematics at the University of New Mexico (UNM) in Albuquerque in 1946. It was also in Albuquerque that year where Haas met Clyde Tombaugh, the famed discoverer of the planet Pluto. He remained at UNM until 1950. Haas continued to develop a relationship with other fellow amateur astronomers. He was the founder of Association of Lunar and Planetary Observers (ALPO) and The Strolling Astronomer, the monthly bulletin of the ALPO.

Mr. Haas then accepted a position at the White Sands Proving Ground (now White Sands Missile Range) in 1950, working on early computer programming applications in a civil service capacity. He worked there until 1954, when he started work for the Physical Science Laboratory (PSL) based at the New Mexico College of Agriculture & Mechanic Arts (NMCA & MA; now New Mexico State University). Still interested in astronomy, he was a charter member of the Astronomical Society of Las Cruces that Tombaugh established in 1951. Haas also taught mathematics at NMCA & MA in the late 1950s.

In 1959 Haas accepted a faculty teaching position at Pan American College in Edinburg, Texas (now University of Texas-Pan American). He worked there for three years, and then returned to Las Cruces to work for PSL. He retired from there in 1983. While busy in his professional career, Mr. Haas continued his work with the Association of Lunar Planetary Observers and was editor and director of The Strolling Astronomer until 1985.

Though officially retired, Mr. Haas remains active within the amateur astronomy community throughout the United States, often attending conferences and other meetings relevant to his research interests.

Mr. Haas currently lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico.


20 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Astronomer and mathematician; worked with the White Sands Proving Ground and Physical Science Laboratory.

Related Material

Ms 407 Clyde W. Tombaugh Papers. New Mexico State University Library, Archives and Special Collections Department, Archives and Special Collections. Ms 408 Hugh M. Johnson Papers New Mexico State University Library, Archives and Special Collections Department, Archives and Special Collections.
Guide to the Walter H. Haas papers
Portia Vescio, Roxanne Klunczyk, Cecelia Carrasco, Amelia Waldon, Bill Boehm, and Melissa Gottwald
October 2003.
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid is in English

Repository Details

Part of the New Mexico State University Library Archives and Special Collections Repository

Branson Hall
PO Box 30006
MSC 3475
Las Cruces New Mexico 88003 USA