Professionals and friends knew him as Captain Bob; he was the captain of his airplane, Birdie, and of his observatory, Braeside. He was a man of many talents, and he incorporated those talents into his two main passions in life: flying planes and doing astronomical research.
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Richard Joseph Elston, known for his development of innovative astronomical instrumentation, died on 26 January 2004 in Gainesville, Florida, after a four-year battle with Hodgkin's lymphoma. A professor of astronomy at the University of Florida, Richard had an unusually broad range of interests and skills, and a willingness to share his passion for astronomy with others, which made him a highly valued member of the astronomical community.
Julena Steinheider Duncombe died on 13 September 2003, just eight days before her 92nd birthday.
Thomas M. Donahue, one of the nation's leading space and planetary scientists and a pioneer of space exploration, died Saturday October 16, 2004, from complications following heart surgery. The Edward H. White II Distinguished University Professor of Planetary Science at the University of Michigan, Tom shaped space exploration through his scientific achievements and policy positions. His work started with the first use of sounding rockets following World War II and continued for almost 60 years.
It is with deep sadness and regret that we note the passing of our dear friend and colleague Prof. Lynne K. Deutsch. Lynne died on 2 April 2004 after a protracted illness and lengthy battle with complications caused by the blood disease Polycythaemia Vera.
Professor Leverett Davis Jr., Professor of theoretical physics at the California Institute of Technology, died on June 15, 2003 after a long illness. He was 89 years old. He contributed many important ideas and concepts to theoretical astrophysics and was a pioneer in the in situ scientific exploration of space using observations from spacecraft.
Joseph W. Chamberlain died at home with his family on April 14 2004 after a long illness. He was born August 24, 1928 and raised in Boonville, Missouri, where his father was the doctor. There was no doubt that both Joe and his elder brother Gilbert would also become doctors, but Joe's first class in comparative anatomy at the University of Missouri convinced him that this was not his destiny and he immediately switched to physics and astronomy.
David Fulmer Bender died in San Diego, California, on 13 September 2004, at the age of 91. His heart stopped suddenly while he was dancing. His pioneering work in establishing comprehensive, computer-accessible ephemerides of asteroids and comets found many applications, including the first-ever visit to an asteroid, Gaspra, by an interplanetary spacecraft.
Dick Walker, 67, died 30 March 2005 in Flagstaff, AZ, following a long illness. He was born on 9 March 1938 in Hampton, Iowa and grew up in Waterloo, Iowa.
As a child, Dick was fascinated with astronomy and built his own telescope. He saved his pennies and bought and read every book on the subject he could find. He also raised pigeons, naming four of them Hertzsprung, Hoyle, Gamow, and Kron.
Damon Paul Simonelli died unexpectedly on 1 December 2004 after he collapsed of heart failure at his home near Pasadena, California. Damon led pioneering studies in the scientific exploration of the satellites of the Solar System with spacecraft. He was a longtime member of the AAS's Division for Planetary Sciences community. Only two weeks before his death he attended the 2004 DPS meeting in Louisville where he presented a paper on the surface roughness of Phoebe based on Cassini observations.
Gibson Reaves died on 8 April 2005 in Torrance, California, from advanced metastatic prostate cancer. He contributed to the early study of dwarf galaxies in the Virgo cluster, but his greatest contribution to astronomy lives in the students whom he taught at the Department of Astronomy at the University of Southern California.
Kevin H. Prendergast, Emeritus Professor of Astronomy at Columbia University, died 8 September 2004 at the age of 75 from complications of lung cancer. He had been at Columbia for more than fifty years.
Jason Porter, a solar astronomer at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center (MSFC), died on 23 July 2005 from complications associated with his 18-year battle with a form of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. He was born on 28 June 1954.
Albert G. Petschek died suddenly 8 July 2004. He enjoyed good health and was very active professionally and personally until his death. He was highly respected, particularly in theoretical physics, for his deep, broad-ranging analytical powers, which resulted in contributions to nuclear physics, astrophysics, atmospheric physics, quantum mechanics, and quantum computing.
Philip Morrison, who died 22 April 2005 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, was born in Somerville, New Jersey on 7 November 1915 to Moses and Tilly (née Rosenbloom) Morrison. Early childhood polio confined him for extended periods, during which he apparently developed his remarkable skill at speed reading. Speed writing (leading to a bibliography of more than 600 items) came later, and his memory must always have been exceedingly retentive.
John Daniel Kraus, 94, of Delaware, Ohio, director of the Ohio State University "Big Ear" Radio Observatory, physicist, inventor, and environmentalist died 18 July 2004 at his home in Delaware, Ohio. He was born on 28 June 1910 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. He received a Bachelor of Science in 1930, a Master of Science in 1931, and a PhD in physics in 1933 (at 23 years of age), all from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.
Walter Alexander Feibelman, 79, an astronomer who discovered the E-ring of Saturn, died of a heart attack 19 November 2004 at his home at Riderwood Village in Silver Spring, Maryland.
Walter was born 30 October 1925 in Berlin, Germany to Bernard and Dora Feibelman. He came to the United States with his parents in 1941. They were some of the last German Jews to flee Nazi Germany. Years later, he reported his experiences in an account contributed to the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
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.
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.