Professor Roger Griffin’s unpublished scientific data

Last modified on 2021 November 26


The following notice was published in the 2021 December issue of Observatory magazine. It was pre-written by Roger himself in January 2016, though was subsequently slightly edited by us members of his family in light of actual events.



Readers of this Magazine will be well aware that for many years each issue included an instalment of R. F. Griffin’s series of papers on Spectroscopic Binary Orbits from Photoelectric Radial Velocities. That series is now concluded owing to the lamented demise of its author. He had, however, accumulated a substantial number of radial-velocity observations of other stars, many of which might have featured in his series of papers if only he had lived to write them. Recognizing that he would not personally be in a position to continue the series indefinitely, he arranged that his unpublished observations would become accessible to interested parties. His family is in the process of carrying out his wishes, and additionally arranging to make all his unpublished data available on the Web; accordingly please consult the following webpage which explains the current situation and gives links to data as they become available: [this webpage]. The unpublished observations all exist in manuscript form in card indexes that are destined to reside in the Library of St. John’s College, Cambridge, CB2 1TP, and may be consulted there through the kindness of the Librarian. Those that pertain to spectroscopic binaries that were being actively investigated are also held in computer files that are easy to understand and can form the inputs to one or another of several orbit-solving programmes that deal with single-lined and double-lined systems, and also with triple systems which have one, two, or three measureable components in their spectra. A listing of those files may be obtained from Dr. R. E. M. Griffin at the Dominion Astrophysical Observatory, Victoria, B.C. [email address redacted], who may be willing to instruct interested parties in the application of the orbit-solving programmes to the data files if those parties do not possess their own software for the purpose.

Alzheimers and a global pandemic

Unfortunately, the seemingly effortless handover which Roger foresaw — in which we family members, upon his death, fetched his boxes of card-index cards from his office and handed them to the waiting College Librarian — did not come to pass.

This was because of the cruel double-whammy of Roger’s Alzheimers disease coinciding with a global pandemic.

Indeed, we began emptying Roger’s office at the Institute of Astronomy at Cambridge prior to his death, in October 2020 when its desk (and those of other Emeritus staff) was going to be required urgently to achieve Social Distancing for students. Roger never knew that we had done this, but at the time we half-expected to be able to put everything back more-or-less how we’d found it in due course. But his decline was rapid, and he did not live to return to his office. Instead, we subsequently sorted through all its contents and removed a significant quantity of them (but left behind a tonne or two of surplus material), that task requiring daily specific permission to gain access to the site and the building, and being completed during May 2021.

The current situation

We have recovered Roger’s 8 beautiful hand-made wooden trays of card-index cards, and are in the process of scanning their contents. These will be linked from this page when they are ready. They will then be passed to the SJC Librarian as per his wishes, though we hope that they will be much more accessible by being published on the web as compared to requiring an in-person visit to a specific building in the city of Cambridge.

We also have Roger’s electronic files relating to his Coravel data and his Spectroscopic Binaries, and will publish the relevant portions of these from this page when we can.

Unfortunately, given our own busy working lives and the many other large and time-bound tasks arising from Roger’s passing, we are still working on the above.

Seeking updates / further information?

If you wish to contact us, including Dr. R. E. M. Griffin at the DAO, please send us email. Please also feel free to ask for us to notify you by email when material has been added to this page.

Thank you for reading.