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.
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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).
Dr. Richard B. Dunn, astronomer emeritus at the National Solar Observatory, died of a heart attack on September 29, 2005. He was recognized as one of the foremost experimental solar physicists. His innovative designs for telescopes and instruments led to many important discoveries in solar physics.
Renowned astronomer and astronomy popularizer Kenneth L. Franklin died early Monday morning, June 18, 2007, in Boulder, Colorado, two weeks after undergoing heart surgery. He was 84 years old.
Cornell University Emeritus Professor of Physics, Kenneth I. Greisen, died on March 17, 2007 of cancer at the Hospicare residence in Ithaca, New York. He was 89 years old. Prof. Greisen was well-known for his participation in the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos and for his many contributions to the study of cosmic ray physics. More quietly, Prof. Greisen also made significant contributions to the teaching of Physics at the high school and university levels. He was of service to the Cornell and Ithaca communities in many ways both during his university career and after his retirement.
Dr. Herbert Gursky, Acting Associate Director of Research for the Naval Research Laboratory's (NRL's) Systems Directorate, and formerly Superintendent of the Space Science Division and Chief Scientist of the E. O. Hulburt Center for Space Research. Dr. Gursky died following a long illness on late Friday afternoon, December 1, 2006. Dr. Gursky was a great friend, valued colleague, and distinguished researcher who will be missed greatly.
Tor Hagfors, a world leader in the use of radar techniques to observe ionospheres, surfaces and interiors of planetary bodies, died of heart-failure on 17 January 2007, in Puerto Rico, at the age of 76. He was born on 8 December 1930, in Oslo, Norway, and received his education there and in Trondheim, where he graduated with exceptionally good grades with a degree in technical physics from the Norwegian Institute of Technology (NTH) in 1955.
Cosmologist Edward R. (Ted) Harrison, emeritus Distinguished University Professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, died on 29 January 2007 in his retirement city of Tucson, Arizona, where he was adjunct professor at the Steward Observatory, University of Arizona. The cause of death was colon cancer. He is survived by a sister, brother, and daughter. (A son died in 2000.)
Longtime Harvard Curator of Astronomical Photographs and AAVSO officer Martha Hazen passed away on 23 December 2006 at Hingham, Massachusetts, after a short illness due to acute myelogenous leukemia.
Wayne Carlos Hendrickson was born on born 4 December 1953 in Alhambra, California. He earned a BA/BS in Physics from the University of California at Irvine circa 1975. His PhD in astrophysics was earned in 1984 at the University of Texas at Austin. Hendrickson worked at Raytheon Corporation, for most of the rest of his life, on classified research. He died 8 August 2007.
John J. Hillman, a dedicated NASA civil servant, spectroscopist, astrophysicist, planetary scientist, and mentor, died on February 12, 2006 of ocular melanoma at his home in Columbia, Maryland. His professional and personal interests were wide-reaching and varied, and he devoted his career to the advancement of our understanding of the beauty and wonder in the world around us. His love of nature, art, and science made him a true Renaissance man.
For Ellen Dorrit Hoffleit, who died on 9 April 2007 in New Haven, Connecticut, shortly after her 100th birthday, World War II, in which she did at least her fair share of the work, was "the war," but she also lived through World War I ("the Great War" until she was well into her 30s), Korea, Vietnam, the first Gulf War, and (we hope) most of Iraq.
Michael W. Johnson was born on 1 September 1949. He received his B.S. (Physics) from the University of San Francisco in 1971, his M.S. (Physics) from the University of Toledo in 1974, and his Ph.D. (Astrophysics) from the University of Pennsylvania in 1981. His doctoral thesis was entitled, "HEAO A-1 Observations of X ray Emitting Clusters of Galaxies," and he was an author of a 1983 catalog of X-ray emitting clusters.
Frank C. Jones, an emeritus theoretical physicist at NASA, died May 2, 2007 at age 74 after a struggle with a rare form of cancer. He died at his home in Silver Spring, Maryland, surrounded by his family.