Thomas William Hamilton (born January 11, 1939, in San Francisco, California) is an astronomer and expert on planetariums. He was educated at Columbia University.
From 1946 to 1952 Hamilton was a child actor, initially appearing in Barnaby and Mr. O'Malley, a stage production based on Crockett Johnson's comic strip Barnaby. He also performed in radio, movies, and television, such as the early children's television show Mr. I-Magination.
In the mid-1960s Hamilton worked at Grumman Aircraft in Bethpage, New York, on the Apollo Project, defining fuel requirements and radar accuracy requirements for spacecraft in lunar orbit, and developed a back-up rendezvous technique for use in lunar orbit. While in residency there he wrote a paper called "Characteristics of Circum-lunar orbits". In 1968-69 Hamilton worked for a planetarium manufacturer, writing canned planetarium shows provided to purchasers of Apollo model planetariums. He produced about thirty shows for general public audiences and for elementary school groups.
From 1970 to 1983 Hamilton ran the Wagner College Planetarium in Staten Island, New York, did consulting work for other planetariums, and taught courses in astronomy, the history of astronomy, science fiction, and MBA-level computer management. He also developed a program for training students to enter the planetarium field, and created three courses required for this program.
Hamilton was the originator of the theory that planetarium shows be based on the triple concepts of science, education and drama, with a successful show utilizing a balance of all three. While planetariums that mainly offer concerts or laser shows do not follow this philosophy, it remains one of the main concepts in the field.
With the temporary closure of the Wagner College Planetarium, Hamilton worked at the Newark Museum Planetarium while teaching at the College of Staten Island and . He led or participated in groups observing four solar eclipses, in Maine (1963), North Carolina (1973), the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec (1974), and Siberia (1980). The first and last of these belong to the same Saros cycle. He retired from teaching in 2003.
Notable accomplishments include two planetarium shows designed for the deaf, one devoted to the career of John Goodricke, an eighteenth-century deaf British astronomer who first explained the varying light of the eclipsing binary Algol. In 1980 Hamilton received a federal grant to develop a planetarium show in six foreign languages (later expanded to twelve), which was distributed to 260 planetariums in the USA and a few in other nations. He was an invited observer for the first fly-by of the planet Mercury in 1973, and of the first launch to Saturn and of the space shuttle. He was the first to point out that pairs of craters on Earth, the Moon, and elsewhere supported the then-controversial theory that asteroids may have moons.
Hamilton was editor through ninety issues of a monthly newsletter for the planetarium profession, "Bauersfeld's Folly", and hosted ten regional planetarium conferences, as well as the 1980 annual convention of the Science Fiction Research Association. He has had numerous articles published relating to planetaria and astronomy education, and since 2003 has taken up writing science fiction.
Hamilton also had a career in politics. In 1983 the U.S. Navy proposed building a base in the Staten Island community of Stapleton, about a mile from Hamilton's newly purchased home. He became chair of a community group organized to oppose permitting the Navy to build this base, the Committee for a Nuclear-Free Island. He wrote a series of analyses of the Navy's Environmental Impact Statements for the base which appeared in the Staten Island Register newspaper, pointing out hundreds of alleged flaws. Plans for the base were ultimately cancelled during the Reagan-era budget reductions, but Hamilton had gotten permanently involved in politics, serving seven one year terms as Secretary of the Staten Island Democratic Association. When the newly organized Independence Party gained ballot line status in New York State in 1994, Hamilton was elected both as a State Committee member and as Richmond County Chair, giving up the latter position in 2002. While Chair he ran once each for State Assembly (with a cross-endorsement from the Green Party) and State Senate, garnering only about 2% of the vote each time on a radical platform of reforms. He served on the slate of members of the Electoral College for the Independence Party in 1996 and 2000. However, as Chair, he was largely responsible for the first successful election of a woman judge, Barbara Panepinto, in Richmond County, and the Independence Party reached an enrollment of about 4000 members in the county. In 1998 he won a court case allowing use of proxies at County Committee meetings (Essenberg v. Hamilton et al., Supreme Court of the State of New York, Richmond County, Index 8479/98), and as a direct result, Richmond County, Suffolk County, and Jefferson County became the first legally constituted county committees within the Independence Party. This effectively made them self-governing.
* 1980, Science Fiction Research Association Annual Conference
* 1974 through 1981, Armand Spitz Annual Memorial Regional Conference, Middle Atlantic Planetarium Society
* IBM Unbundling, Computer Sciences Corp., New York, 1966
* Management and Library Information Systems, Diebold, New York, 1967
* Characteristics of Circumlunar Orbits, GAEC, Bethpage NY, 1964
* Useful Star Names, Viewlex, Holbrook NY, 1969
* Planetariums as an Incentive to Learning, Middle Atlantic Planetarium Society, 2005 Annual Conference, Richmond VA
* Public Misperceptions of Astronomy, Middle Atlantic Planetarium Society, Great Lakes Planetsrium Association, Southeast Planetarium Association Joint 2007 Annual Conference, Oglebay WV
* Impact of Sputnik, New York City Chapter of the National Space Society, 2007
* Origins of the American Space Program, Third Annual Allies in Space Conference, New York City, 2007
* Wagner College catalog editions: 1971 through 1983
* Staten Island Advance (newspaper), Nov 2, 1998, Insurgent for Assembly
* Staten Island Advance, October 28, 2000 Candidate Profile
* Staten Island Advance, October 29, 2000 Candidate Checklist
The court case cited above was before a Judge Lebowitz (correct spelling), but seems to be unpublished
The newspaper PM carried the comic strip Barnaby, and had several articles in the summer of 1946 about the play based on this strip, including a front page photo showing the actor and comic strip character in apparent conversation.