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When searching for things related to How did Michelson measure the diameters of jupiter's moons using optical interferometry? I came across the ui.adsabs.harvard.edu entry A. A. Michelson's Jovian Galilean-Satellite Interferometer at Lick Observatory in 1891 which links to this Simbad page.

But I don't understand what I'm looking at. The title of the Simbad page is

A.A. Michelson's Jovian Galilean-satellite interferometer at Lick Observatory in 1891.

but the date directly below it seems to be Betelgeuse.

I don't use Simbad so I'm not sure exactly how to understand the juxtaposition of the title's Jovian Galilean-satellite interferometer" with data about Betelgeuse. Is it possible to explain the page's purpose?

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The SIMBAD link might be there just because Osterbrock's 2004 AAS presentation about the interferometer mentioned an observation of Betelgeuse. This would be consistent with the policy stated in Wenger et al. 2000:

No assessment is made of the relevance of the citation in terms of astronomical contents: the paper can be entirely devoted to the object, or simply give a side mention of it - in both cases this gives a reference in SIMBAD. [...] SIMBAD approach favours exhaustivity, at the cost of increased information noise.

Other articles about SIMBAD bibliography, from Laloë et al. 1993 to Delacour et al. 2018, show an evolution of their process from mostly manual to largely automated, but knowledgeable humans are still in the loop.

Sometimes an instrument or project intended primarily to investigate one subject also makes important contributions when reused on another subject. For example, the Dark Energy Survey of distant galaxies has also contributed to the discovery of several trans-Neptunian objects.

However, that is not exactly what happened here. Michelson 1920 discusses another interferometer spanning the objective of the 100-inch telescope at Mt. Wilson, noting that atmospheric seeing conditions affected the results less than expected. Betelgeuse required a longer baseline, so Michelson and Pease 1921 used four 6-inch mirrors mounted on a 20-foot steel beam.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks! I see. SInce "I don't use Simbad..." I don't understand some basics. The first link in my question refers to "American Astronomical Society Meeting 205, id.04.01; Bulletin of the American Astronomical Society, Vol. 36, p.1340" so I assume this is an abstract for a talk. Was this Simbad page likely generated automatically from that, or did someone decide to generate it? $\endgroup$ – uhoh Oct 22 '20 at 21:39
  • $\begingroup$ much appreciated, thank you! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Oct 22 '20 at 23:05
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    $\begingroup$ Readers may also find this answer to What equipment and techniques were used to study Betelgeuse's diameter in 1920? to be worth a read. $\endgroup$ – uhoh Oct 23 '20 at 3:20
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Simbad is giving a catalogue of astronomical objects (that are identified in the Simbad catalogue) referred to in the AAS article. This is routinely done for most papers in the recognised astronomical literature.

In this case, Betelgeuse appears to be the only star specifically mentioned in that AAS paper (actually just the abstract that is seen on the ADS page you have viewed), presumably because it was an obvious target for the interferometer.

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