mugshot

Prof. John Baldwin FRS

6 December 1931 - 7 December 2010

Members of the Laboratory and colleagues elsewhere will be saddened to learn that Professor John Baldwin has died after a short illness which developed during the summer.

John not only had a remarkable impact scientifically, but also on so many of us personally. John was the leading light of the "second generation" of radio astronomers at Cambridge and was at the heart of everything in the Radio Astronomy group during the hugely exciting early period of radio astronomy. The 6C and 7C surveys were for two decades the defining low-frequency surveys.

John also pioneered spectral interferometry - the Half-Mile telescope was the first interferometer to image neutral hydrogen. In more recent years John concentrated on developing the new field of optical interferometry: from aperture masks on large optical telescopes to the development of COAST at Lords Bridge, he demonstrated that optical interferometry is a powerful tool for future optical imaging. He was quite simply one of the very few people to really understand every aspect of interferometry.

For so many of us it will be John's friendship and wisdom that we will miss beyond all else. We will miss him greatly.


This is very very sad news. We will all miss John very much. He has left an amazing legacy of wonderful work and outstanding scientists. His great insights, his warmth, and his contagious humor were an inspiration to all who knew him, and very much so to me during the nine years I was privileged to spend in the Cavendish.

Professor Tony Readhead, Caltech


I was disturbed to know the sad news about the demise of John Baldwin. He was one of the great pioneers in the field of radio astronomy, full of ingenuity, and influenced the growth of radio interferometry at long wavelengths.

Each time I visited Cambridge, I had spent lot of time with John, seeing the great initiatives by him, that gave me new insights, e.g. his array for the 6C and 7C surveys, and his knowledge about the influence of ionosphere on radio interoferometry, or his optical interoferometry. I also remember his critical comments about the GMRT at IAU 1985 at New Delhi (pl see IAU 1985 transactions, if I remember correctly). I will miss him greatly.

Professor Govind Swarup, GMRT


Some fifty years ago, in August 1960, I came to the Cavendish to join Martin Ryle's group in radio astronomy. The staff at the time was young and ambitious. I recall Tony Hewish, Graham Smith, Peter Scheuer, John Baldwin and John Shakeshaft. (Malcolm arrived three years later, shortly before I finished my Ph.D.). It is amazing how illustrous they all became!

I am sad to learn that John Baldwin has died. John was a steadfast contributor to the group's continual innovations, an iconic figure in Cambridge radio astronomy and astronomical interferometry. His ties with radio astronomy in Holland, as recalled by Hugo and Thijs, were very valuable to us in the '70s.

When in ESO we pushed VLT Interferometry in the late '80s/early '90s, the work of John and his Cavendish team was admired and served to challenge our team. John's decades of dedicated work, forefront contributions and creative support for generations of students form an exemplary academic life which will continue to be admired and gratefully remembered.

Professor Harry van der Laan


It is a very sad news indeed! I remember vividly the time when some of us spent a great time with John in Bangalore during the IAU symposium in 1985. Subsequently, when I visited him in Cambridge in 1991, he spent a great deal of time showing his optical interferometer set up.

He was one of the great pioneers of radio astronomy in the succession line of Profs. Ryle and Hewish. On behalf of myself and the entire URSI community of radio astronomers, kindly accept my heart-felt condolences.

Ananth (S.Ananthakrishnan) Chair, URSI Commission J.


When John visited the Kapteyn Institute I was working on my PhD and I have very good memories of that period. As Hugo mentioned John was very much involved in the early days of HI work with the WSRT. When John was chair of IAU Commission 40 I remember contributing to the report of Commission 40 under his guidance. I forget the exact date, but it must have been in the mid 1980's. I have very good memories of him. Please pass my condolences to his family, also on behalf of the Kapteyn Institute, which owes a lot of gratitude to him because of his contribution to the early days of HI research with the WSRT.

Professor Thijs van der Hulst


I was saddened to hear the news about John.

Indeed John made enormous contributions to radio astronomy globally. Besides the work you mention, he was of course also a pioneer of low frequency interferometry. The 38MHz 8C survey is still the best survey below 50MHz and was an important stimulus for the next-generation low-frequency arrays, such as LOFAR.

Professor George Miley, Leiden


I am very sad to read that John Baldwin has passed away.

I first met John at the IAU Assembly in Dublin in 1955. He gave an excellent talk about the Galactic Halo, very impressive for a 24-year old student. Already then, he was a great scientist, and I shall not try to summarize his many achievements.

In the sixties his work on neutral hydrogen in galaxies with the Half-Mile Telescope set the scene for our later work at Westerbork. In the seventies John joined the Westerbork Time Allocation Committee for two years, as its first foreign member. With his deep insight and great experience in the field, he was an outstanding member.

In the seventies he also served as a member of the Organizing Committee of IAU Commission 34 (Interstellar Matter) of the IAU, and in 1976 he contributed a valuable section on Supernova Remnants to the Triennial Report of the Commission.

With particular gratitude I remember his visit to Groningen in 1991, on the occasion of my retirement. His presence at the one-day workshop and preceding reception I have highly valued as a token of the friendship that had developed in the seventies.

Professor Hugo van Woerden, Kapteyn Institute, Groningen


Please convey my condolences to John's family and the RA group. John was not only a leading scientist. I remember him also as generous and friendly; a man who made the Cavendish a sunnier place.

Professor Bernie Fanaroff, Director South African SKA Programme


I was sorry to hear about the passing of John Baldwin, this marks the end of an era in radio astronomy. John had an enormous influence of the development of radio astronomy and interferometry in particular. He was influential socially as well - I remember an impromptu trip to Covent Garden to see Richard Strauss's Salome with John and his wife, needless to say we did not discuss interferometry during the performance or even at dinner! He will be missed.

Professor Ralph Spencer, Jodrell Bank, Manchester


We are very saddened by the news of the loss of John Baldwin whom many of us knew and valued.

I would like to send you and your Institute my most sincere condolences on behalf of all my colleagues at the Istituto di Radioastronomia of Bologna.

Professor Luigina Feretti, Director Bologna Observatory


I was shocked to get this terrible news. It is hard to imagine what it will be like to be at the Lab and not having him there to chat to and hearing his jolly laughter.

John is of course one of the main reasons I am in Radio Astronomy - he was my Director of Studies when I first came to Cambridge and I soon learned that trying to think about things and do them in the way that he did was a pretty good way to go. I have done my best to do that.

Professor Richard Hills, Project Scientist, ALMA

[ Cavendish | Astrophysics Home ]