Peter Meyer, a distinguished astrophysicist and pioneer in cosmic-ray observations, died in Chicago on 7 March 2002, after a stroke, following long illness. He was born in Berlin, Germany, on 6 January 1920, the son of Franz Julius Meyer, a Jewish physician, and Frida Luise (née Lehmann) Meyer, a nurse. Peter received his initial academic training at the Technical University in Berlin, with the famous physicist Hans Geiger as one of his teachers. He received a degree as Diplom Ingenieur in 1942 with a thesis on proportional counters.
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Henry L. Yeagley, Sr., died at his home in State College, Pennsylvania on 26 December 1996. He was a true son of the Keystone State, born in York, PA on 17 July 1899. His first employment was as a chemist with York Manufacturing Co. (1919-1922), apparently a secure enough job to permit his marriage in 1920 (from which three children were born). He then returned to school, earning BS (1925), MS (1927), and PhD (1934) degrees in physics and astronomy from Pennsylvania State University.
Samuel C. Wheeler, Jr., professor emeritus of physics at Denison University, passed away on 9 May 1995 at his home in Granville, Ohio. Born in Montclair, New Jersey, 3 June 1913, Sam graduated from Hamilton (Ohio) High School in 1920, earned a bachelor's degree from Miami University of Ohio in 1942, and a master's degree from the University of Illinois in 1943. During World War II, he did underwater sound research at the San Diego Naval Base, remaining as a physicist with the US Navy Electronics Lab until 1948.
Fletcher Watson was born in Baltimore and graduated from Pomona College (California) in 1933. After earning his PhD in astronomy from Harvard University in 1938, working with Whipple, he joined the staff of the Harvard College Observatory. Watson was the author of Between the Planets (1941), a popular book concerning comets, meteors, asteroids, and meteorites that was translated into several languages.
H. Beat Wackernagel, best known for his pioneering role in the development of US Space Command's ability to maintain a catalog of all manmade space objects, died in Colorado Springs on 2 August 1992. He is survived by his wife, the former Irene Chavez, two daughters and two sons.
Vladimir Vanysek, professor emeritus of astrophysics at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic, died in Prague on 27 July 1997 after a long, severe illness at the age of 70. He was born on 8 August 1926 in Prague, graduated in 1950 from Masa University, Brno, and received a PhD in astrophysics from Charles University in 1956, with a thesis entitled "Dispersion of Velocities and Masses of B Stars."
Richard Tousey, astrophysicist and long time employee of Naval Research Laboratory, died of pneumonia in Prince Georges Hospital Center on 15 April 1997. He had spent most of his 37 years at NRL as head of the Rocket Spectroscopy Branch of the Optics Division, later the Space Science Division, before retiring in 1978. Tousey was born in Somerville, Massachusetts on 18 May 1908 and graduated from Tufts in 1928. He received MA (1929) and PhD (1933) degrees in physics from Harvard and an Sc.D (honoris causa) from Tufts in 1961.
Clyde Tombaugh, known for his discovery of Pluto in 1930, was born on 4 February 1906 in Streator, illinois, and died of congestive heart failure on 17 January 1997 in his home in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
Clyde spent his childhood on farms in Illinois and Kansas. He was introduced to astronomy by his uncle, who owned a 3-inch telescope. After graduating from high school, Clyde made his own 9-inch reflector and began an active program observing the planets.
W. Reid Thompson, Senior Research Associate in the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University, died on 22 April 1996, at age 44, after a long and courageous fight with metastatic lung cancer. Thompson, who first came to Cornell as a graduate student in biophysical chemistry, entered planetary science when the opportunities to investigate organic chemistry in the outer Solar System were just beginning to blossom.
Lois Keener Thome, who preferred not to reveal her exact birthdate, was a native of Illinois but a California resident for most of her life. She graduated from Pasadena High School in 1915 and the University of Southern California in about 1919, with a degree in sociology. She worked in the computing division of the Mt. Wilson Observatory from 1919 to 1924 on measurements and reductions for the Physical Laboratory, which specialized in laboratory spectroscopy to support astronomical work.
Roger Tayler, a Publisher Affiliate member of AAS, died 23 January 1997 after a long fight against cancer. He was a distinguished and versatile astrophysicist, contributing to our understanding of the structure and evolution of stars, galaxies, and the universe as a whole. He also did important work on the stability of laboratory plasmas. As an officer of the Royal Astronomical Society and editor of its journal, he gave outstanding service to the astronomical community, both nationally and internationally. Many of his students now hold senior positions over the world.
Ralph E. Sturm, who died on 30 June 1994, was a native of Jasper, Indiana, who never quite got around to finishing the bachelor's degree in engineering that he began at Notre Dame in 1930. Instead, he became an extraordinarily versatile and productive instrument developer, working in aviation, the automobile industry, radiology, and more, in the process of which, he completed the academic requirements for a PhD in physics at the Johns Hopkins University, working with Russell H. Morgan.
Astronomy lost one of the great figures of this century with the passing, on 31 March 1997, of Lyman Spitzer, Jr. He will be remembered as a major contributor to understanding of the interstellar medium, plasma physics, the structure of the Milky Way and other galaxies, and the dynamics of star clusters; as the father of the Copernicus ultraviolet satellite and the Hubble Space Telescope; and as the guiding figure of the Princeton Astronomy Department for more than a third of a century.
Roman Smoluchowski was born in Zakopane, Poland on 31 August 1910. He died in Austin, Texas on 12 January 1996 after a distinguished career in industrial and academic research that spanned both physics and astrophysics. He received his master's degree in physics from the University of Warsaw in 1933 and a doctorate in physics and mathematics from the University of Groningen in 1935. He spent a postdoctoral year at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, where, with Eugene Wigner, he wrote the seminal paper on the application of group theory to solid state physics.
Jack Slowey, a staff member of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO) in Cambridge, Massachusetts, for more than 40 years and a participant in this country's immediate response to the launch of Sputnik I, died suddenly of an aneurysm on 25 January 1997. He is survived by his wife, Auralie, three sons, and a daughter.
Gene Shoemaker was an astronomer and geologist who was fortunate enough to be born at the perfect time, just as watchful eyes were turning toward the Moon. He was also resourceful enough to make this time his own. Born 28 April 1928, Gene was firmly hooked on geology not long after his mother gave him, at age 7, a set of agate marbles. Educated in Los Angeles, he received a BSc from Caltech in 1947 and a masters degree from the same institution in 1948.
Martin Schwarzschild, Higgins Professor of Astronomy, Emeritus, at Princeton University, died on 10 April 1997 following a heart attack, just ten days after the death of his close personal and scientific friend, Lyman Spitzer. They were together at Princeton for half a century; they made Princeton a truly unique place for astrophysics; and they kept it unique for decades. Their presence was strongly felt all the way to the end, and it is very hard to imagine how we shall continue without them. Martin would have been 85 on May 31.
Leon W. Schroeder, for many years the astronomer at Oklahoma State University, was born 25 January 1921 in Guthrie, OK and graduated from Stillwater High School in 1937. His college work at Oklahoma A&M College was interrupted by flight training and, eventually, teaching at the No. 3 British Flying Training School in Miami, OK. He retained his pilot's license and frequently provided transportation for members and visitors of the Oklahoma State physics department.
American astronomy lost its clearest and most colorful public voice with the death of Carl Sagan on 20 December 1996, at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, Washington, as an immediate result of pneumonia, secondary to myelodysplasia. A native of Brooklyn, New York (born 9 November 1934), Sagan graduated in 1951 from Rahway High School, Rahway, New Jersey (which now boasts a Carl Sagan Science Wing, dedicated in 1991).