Leslie C. Peltier
Leslie Peltier with Spyglass. Courtesy of the Astronomical League.
Leslie C. Peltier was born on January 2, 1900, near Delphos, Ohio. As a young child, Peltier became fascinated with the sky. As Peltier once stated,
I feel it is my duty to warn others...that they approach the oberserving of variable stars with the utmost caution. It is easy to become an addict, and as usual, the longer the indulgence is continued the more difficult it becomes to make a clean break and go back to a normal life.
As a teenager, he picked strawberries on his father's farmer to earn money to purchase a telescope. He also became a member of the American Association of Variable Star Observers, an organization of amateur astronomers. This group loaned Peltier a larger telescope, which he set up in one of his father's cow pastures. Peltier continued to improve his astronomy equipment. In 1921, he borrowed a telescope from Princeton University. With this telescope, Peltier discovered his first comet on November 13, 1925.
This comet was the first of twelve that Peltier discovered. He also found two novae and made more than 100,000 other observations. Although he never graduated from high school, Peltier became one of the most respected astronomers of the twentieth century. Peltier built the first observatory that could actually rotate and follow the stars. He also moved Miami University's observatory to his home and reassembled it after the school decided to demolish it. Peltier utilized this observatory for the last two decades of his life, before succumbing to a heart attack on May 10, 1980.