An obituary for Jan Oort, astronomer axtraordinaire and leader of Dutch astronomy since the 1920's has appeared in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Vol. 105, pp. 681-5 (by A. Blaauw and M. Schmidt). An excellent collection of papers on Oort's life and work is found in Oort and the Universe, edited by H. van Woerden, W. N. Brouw, and H. C. van de Hulst (1980). An autobiographical article is available in the Annual Reviews of Astronomy and Astrophysics, Vol 19, p. 1 (1981).
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Eminent Armenian scientist and astronomer, Prof. Victor Ambartsumian (also spelled Ambartsumyan and Ambarsumyan), Honorary President of the Armenian National Academy of Science, died on the 12th of August, 1996. He was an honorary or foreign member of academies of sciences of more than 25 countries and held honorary degrees from many well-known universities.
Gerson Goldhaber was a leading particle physicist who turned his attention to cosmology in the latter part of career. He was the first person to assert from his interpretations of the data, and then report in professional meetings, evidence for the existence of Dark Energy. The evidence came from his study of supernova in the Berkeley Supernova Cosmology Project. In the words of Nobel laureate Sheldon Glashow, “His seminal contributions to our understanding of the smallest structures of Nature (particle physics) and to the largest (cosmology) have been truly remarkable.
Gordon J. F. MacDonald was born in Mexico in 1929, the son of a Scottish accountant. He never revealed to me how he managed to make the transition from schooling in Mexico to a highly successful student career at Harvard, ending with a PhD in 1954. I met Gordon first in 1959, in the home of Walter Munk, having been invited there specifically to meet this outstanding post doc, who had written a book together with Walter, The Rotation of the Earth. This is not a trivial subject, as I knew, having worked in this field before.
Christof Litwin, a theoretical physicist with broad interests ranging from field theory to plasma physics and astrophysics, passed away suddenly and unexpectedly on 4 October 2001, from complications arising from surgery for oral cancer. Christof was a senior scientist at the University of Chicago, working within the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Center for Astrophysical Thermonuclear Flashes.
James Harvey Hensley, a dedicated educator in astronomy and physics for over thirty years, died in Platteville, Wisconsin on 13 March 2002. He had been suffering from cancer since the spring of 2001.
Two days after completing her last research paper, Karen Lorraine Harvey died of complications associated with cancer on 30 April 2002. She earned international recognition for her wide-ranging work on solar magnetic fields and solar activity. Her friends knew her as a warm, generous, energetic woman who admirably balanced her scientific achievements with devotion to family, service to the professional community, and fostering the careers of younger colleagues.
J. Mayo Greenberg, a leading experimental astrochemist and expert on cometary structure and composition, died of pancreatic cancer in his home in Leiden, The Netherlands, on 29 November 2001. Though born in Baltimore, Maryland on 14 January 1922, and educated at Johns Hopkins University, Greenberg had immigrated to The Netherlands in 1975, and it was there that his cometary expertise matured.
Jack M. Grant, as he preferred to be known, a long-time Canadian meteor astronomer, passed away in Orillia, Ontario on 5 March 2002. His father, Lewis John Mason Grant was an artist, while his mother, Daisy Constance Hilda née White Grant, devoted herself to maintaining the household. Lewis was independently wealthy; a family fortune had been amassed farming indigo in India during the period of Queen Victoria’s extended mourning and his modest inheritance was sufficient to support the family.
Edward Ryant ‘‘Ned’’ Dyer, Jr. was the son of Rev. Edward Ryant Dyer, an Episcopal missionary and clergyman. His mother, Dr. Ann (nèe Humphreys) Dyer, studied medicine and obtained a medical degree. She met his father when they both were missionaries in China in 1913. Ned was born in Wuxi, China, on 1 February 1918 and was raised there for the first ten years of his life. As a child, Dyer developed an interest in astronomy from books in his father’s library, especially those by James Jeans and Arthur Eddington.
Lawrence Dunkelman was a pioneer in the development of ultraviolet detectors and optical materials for use in scientific research. He applied these devices to astronomical and geophysical problems and played a significant role in developing the techniques and procedures necessary to make scientific optical measurements in space. Larry died in Tucson, Arizona on 27 January 2002.
Merton E. Davies was a great friend to all who knew him. The diversity of that large group of fortunate people reflected the wide range of his professional and personal interests.
Arthur Edwin Covington, Canada's first radio astronomer and founder of the daily 10.7-cm solar flux patrol, died peacefully in his home in Kingston, Ontario after a lengthy illness on 17 March 2001. He was eighty-eight years old. His wife Charlotte and their four children, Nancy, Eric, Alan, and Janet survive him.
David Todd Wilkinson died on 5 September 2002. He had battled cancer for seventeen years. His role in the measurements of the thermal cosmic background radiation (the CMB) was key to the completion of the program of cosmological tests that began around the time of his birth in the 1930s.
David Q. Wark, a research meteorologist at the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA/NESDIS) and its predecessor organizations for 55 years, died of cancer 30 July 2002. He will be long remembered for his seminal contributions to the weather satellite program.
Leon Van Speybroeck, a master designer of X-ray telescope mirrors and the telescope scientist for the Chandra X-ray Observatory, died in Newton, Massachusetts, on 25 December 2002, shortly after learning that he had metastatic melanoma. Leon was born on 27 August 1935 in Wichita, Kansas. His father, Paul, was Assistant Treasurer and head of the accounting department at Beech Aircraft, and his mother, Anna Florence (Utley), was a homemaker. Both parents died in 1996. Leon's younger sister, Saundra, is a nurse and his younger brother, John, is a surgeon.
Anne was born in Vancouver, British Columbia on 12 June 1920. Her parents were Frederic Clare Underhill, a civil engineer and Irene Anna (née Creery) Underhill. She had a twin brother and three younger brothers. As a young girl she was active in Girl Guides and graduated from high school winning the Lieutenant Governor's medal as one of the top students in the Province. She also excelled in high school sports. Her mother died when Anne was 18 and, while undertaking her university studies, Anne assisted in raising her younger brothers.
Roland Svensson was found dead on 8 April 2003. He succumbed to the complications arising from diabetes. His contribution to the understanding of the basic properties of relativistic plasmas remains a cornerstone when studying radiation processes in many astrophysical contexts.
Douglas H. Sampson, a renowned theoretical atomic physicist and a professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics at The Pennsylvania State University, passed away on 8 December 2002, in State College, Pennsylvania, of a hemorrhagic stroke. He had retired in 1997 after 32 years of service to the University and had maintained an active research program up to the day of his death.
Grote Reber, a pioneer of radio astronomy, died in Tasmania, Australia on 20 December 2002, two days before his 91st birthday. Reber was born in Chicago on 22 December 1911 and grew up in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton, IL. His father, Schuyler Colefax Reber, who was a lawyer and part owner of a canning factory, died when Grote was only 21; his mother, Harriet Grote was an elementary school teacher in Wheaton. Among her 7th and 8th grade students at Longfellow School in Wheaton was young Edwin Hubble with whom Grote later exchanged views on cosmology.