UH plans high honors for astronomer's ashes
The University of Hawaii Institute for Astronomy will hold a memorial service at 11 a.m. tomorrow for the father of radio astronomy and first astronomer to build a high altitude observatory in Hawaii.
Part of the building constructed by Grote Reber on Haleakala, Maui, still exists and some of his ashes will be interred with a plaque on the roof Tuesday, said Mike Maberry, IFA assistant director for external affairs and business development.
Reber was born in Chicago and died in Tasmania Dec. 20, 2002, two days before his 91st birthday.
His friend and executor of his estate decided the best way to commemorate him was to distribute his ashes to radio telescopes around the world, said David Jauncey, radio astronomer with the Australia Telescope National Facility.
The small box of ashes will be presented to IFA Director Rolf-Peter Kudritzki during tomorrow's ceremony in the IFA auditorium, 2680 Woodlawn Dr.
"It is a very big honor for Hawaii that his family allowed his ashes to be here," said IFA astronomer Gareth Wynn-Williams. "Grote Reber is one of the great pioneers of astronomy."
Maberry said half of what is known as an air-glow building at Haleakala Observatory was Reber's original control room for a telescope.
Nothing is left of the telescope, but the building is used for a lot of small experiments, Maberry said.
The first cosmic radio emissions were discovered by Carl Jansky in 1931 but Reber "very definitely was the first radio astronomer," Jauncey said. Reber moved to Tasmania in 1954 to continue his research and in 1957 his antenna structure on Haleakala collapsed under heavy ice from a storm.
Although Reber's moved on from Haleakala, Jauncey said, "he was thinking what a fabulous place this would be for astronomy and encouraged optical astronomers, who in a few years followed him to the top of Haleakala."
The summit is home now to five telescopes and observatories and has been designated the top site for a $160 million Advanced Solar Telescope.
It is under study with Mauna Kea as a site for Pan-STARRS, an estimated $50 million array of four telescopes to hunt for asteroids and other objects threatening Earth.
A prototype Pan-STARRS telescope will be dedicated June 30 on Haleakala.