David Stanley Evans died on 14 November 2004 in Austin, Texas. He was a noted observational astronomer whose career was divided between South Africa and Texas. He also used the extensive historical collections at the University of Texas to write several books on the history of astronomy.
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Geoffrey Gardner Douglass passed away on 15 February 2005, following a long illness. Geoff was born 11 June 1942 in Rocky River, Ohio, and grew up there with a passion for science, theatre, and pets. He attended the nearby Case Institute of Technology (Cleveland, Ohio) before coming to the U.S. Naval Observatory on 28 April 1967. He worked at the USNO for over 30 years, until his retirement in January 1999.
Alastair Graham Walker Cameron, one of the most creative and influential astrophysicists of his generation, passed away on 3 October 2005, at the age of 80, at his home in Tucson. Subsequent to his retirement from Harvard University, where he had been a member of the faculty from 1973 through 1999, Cameron remained active as a Senior Research Scientist at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona.
Norman H. Baker, a key contributor to the foundation of modern stellar pulsation theory and former editor of the "Astronomical Journal", died on 11 October 2005 in Watertown, New York near his beloved summer home in Natural Bridge. He succumbed to complications of Waldenstrom's macroglobulinemia, a bone marrow lymphoma that he had successfully surmounted for twenty-two years.
Dr. James Gilbert Baker, renowned astronomer and optical physicist, died 29 June 2005 at his home in Bedford, New Hampshire at the age of 90. Although his scientific interest was astronomy, his extraordinary ability in optical design led to the creation of hundreds of optical systems that supported astronomy, aerial reconnaissance, instant photography (Polaroid SX70 camera), and the US space programs. He was the recipient of numerous awards for his creative work.
Wulff Dieter Heintz, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy at Swarthmore College, passed away at his home on 10 June 2006, following a two-year battle with lung cancer. He had turned seventy-six just one week earlier. Wulff was a leading authority on visual double stars and also a chess master. A prominent educator, researcher, and scholar, Wulff was noted for being both succinct and meticulous in everything he did.
Michael John Klein died on 14 May 2005 at home in South Pasadena, California. The cause of death was tongue cancer that metastasized to the lungs. He was a non-smoker. Mike was a passionate radio astronomer, a trusted astronomical observer, an educator and a family man.
Dr. Barry J. LaBonte, age 55, a senior solar physicist in the Space Department of the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, died on 24 October 2005 in Philadelphia of complications following surgery. He was an internationally recognized expert on solar magnetic fields, the solar cycle, and on the sophisticated instruments needed for studying them.
Alexander (Andy) Franz Lubenow, Program Coordinator at the Space Telescope Science Institute, was diagnosed with cancer of the gallbladder, pancreas, and liver in May 2005 and died on 29 September 2005. He was forty-nine.
Cornell (Connie) H. Mayer, a pioneer of radio astronomy, died on 19 November 2005 of congestive heart failure at his home in Mt. Vernon, Virginia. He was eighty-three.
John Perdrix, astronomical historian and co-founder of the Journal of Astronomical History and Heritage, died on 27 June 2005.
John Louis Perdrix was born in Adelaide, Australia, on 30 June 1926. After studying chemistry at Melbourne Technical College and working in industry, he joined the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation's Division of Minerals and Geochemistry. In 1974 the Division relocated to the Western Australian capital, Perth, and John spent the rest of his working life there involved in geochemical research.
A. Keith Pierce was a solar astronomer who will be remembered for bringing the physics lab to the telescope and for his design of the world's largest solar telescope, the 1.5-meter McMath Telescope on Kitt Peak in Arizona. Born in Lincoln, Nebraska, he died of cancer in Tucson on 11 March 2005. He was eighty-six.
His father, Tracy Pierce, had gone to graduate school in Berkeley, California, with a major in mathematics and a minor in astronomy. Fellow students of his class included Seth Nicholson and Donald Shane, people who were later to influence young Keith's life.
Ronald C. Stone, an astronomer at the US Naval Observatory Flagstaff Station, passed away on 10 September 2005 in Downer's Grove, IL, following a valiant struggle with cancer. He was fifty-nine years old.
James Alfred Van Allen, world-renowned space scientist, died 9 August 2006 at the age of ninety-one. He succumbed to heart failure after a ten-week period of declining health.
George W. Wetherill, 1997 National Medal of Science recipient, died from heart failure on 19 July 2006, at his Washington, DC home. Wetherill can be rightfully called the father of modern theories of the formation of the Earth. Prior to the first Protostars and Planets meeting in Tucson in 1978, planet formation theories tended to be eccentric concoctions created by distinguished senior scientists who had earned the right to dream a little bit about how our Solar System had formed. Wetherill was in the vanguard of the effort to place planet formation theory on a solid basis.
The orbital debris, space surveillance, and astronomical communities lost a valued and beloved friend when John L. Africano passed away on July 27, 2006, at the young age of 55. John passed away in Honolulu, Hawaii, from complications following a heart attack suffered while playing racquetball, which was his avocation in life. Born on February 8, 1951, in Saint Louis, Missouri, John graduated with a B.S. in Physics from the University of Missouri at Saint Louis in 1973, and received a Master's degree in Astronomy from Vanderbilt University in 1974.
Ralph Asher Alpher, noted cosmologist, physicist, and educator, died on August 12, 2007, in Austin, Texas. Alpher developed the first model for primordial nucleosynthesis in the hot early Universe and, with Robert Herman, first predicted the cosmic microwave background radiation. During his long and productive career, he published over one-hundred papers, a book translation, chapters in a number of books (primarily in cosmology), and The Genesis of the Big Bang, a book about his life in cosmology, co-authored with Robert Herman.
John Norris Bahcall, one of the most creative and influential astrophysicists of his generation — a scientist who helped prove what makes the Sun shine and helped make the Hubble Space Telescope a reality — passed away in Pasadena, California, on 17 August 2005. Bahcall died peacefully in his sleep from a rare blood disorder. For the past 35 years, Bahcall was the Richard Black Professor of Natural Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, where he created one of the leading astrophysics programs in the world.
Paul Barr, an extragalactic astronomer and spacecraft mission planner, died on 19 October 2005 at his home in Noordwijk, the Netherlands, at the age of 50. Although his scientific interests ranged from AGN to X-ray binaries, he will perhaps best be remembered for his mission planning skills on EXOSAT, ISO, and Integral. Many hundreds of observers have benefited from his ability to juggle seemingly impossible observing constraints and arrive at the optimum observing program. A rare talent.
One of the unquestioned giants of physics and astrophysics, Hans Bethe, died on 6 March 2005, at the venerable age of 98, in his home town of Ithaca, New York. Seven decades of contributing to research and a Nobel Prize for his work on stellar hydrogen burning make a listing of his honors superfluous (besides being impossible in this space).