Saturday, April 27, 2013

New Worlds, New Horizons

Palo Alto was the perfect place for an astronomer
By Hugh J.

Congratulations on your 100th! I lead a simple life—without email! I correspond via handwritten letters. As an introduction, I received doctorate in astronomy from the University of Chicago in 1953. I was employed at the Lockheed Palo Alto Research Laboratory (LPARL) from 1963 to 1986. I believe I was the first of several astronomers who worked there. Some of my time was intended for profit, especially toward winning the Hubble Space Telescope assembly contract. I accompanied one or more Sunnyvale employees on trips to several NASA centers, where I made presentations for the company. (My presence was mainly to “add couth,” according to one of the group travelers.)

Lockheed treated me extraordinarily by permitting me to do research of entirely my own conception and to travel to astronomical observatories and conferences. Of course, I had to submit plans for LPARL approval and dig up some of the costs. I published about 135 papers, mostly in the first-rank Astrophysical Journal, mostly alone, and almost never with another LPARL employee.

I married my dear wife, Jeanette Ringstad, in 1951. We have traveled to about 35 countries, mostly for astronomy and with no Lockheed funding for her. Retirement is tolerable, except for old age!