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Donald E. Osterbrock

AKA Donald Edward Osterbrock

Born: 13-Jul-1924
Birthplace: Cincinnati, OH
Died: 11-Jan-2007
Location of death: Santa Cruz, CA
Cause of death: Heart Failure

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Astronomer, Physicist, Historian

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Director of Lick Observatory, 1973-81

Military service: US Army (WWII)

Astronomer Donald E. Osterbrock studied under Nobel laureate Subrahmanyan Chandrasekhar, and showed how the Sun retains its shape and size. With William W. Morgan and others he traced the spiraling arms of the Milky Way galaxy. He also studied the nature of active galactic nuclei and ionized gas around hot stars, and the effects of gravitational interactions between interstellar clouds and stars, and helped develop new spectroscopic methods to study gaseous nebulae in the cosmos. Later in his career, he wrote extensively about antique telescopes, wrote a well-received biography of Walter Baade, and was a frequent participant in Lick Observatory's on-line "Ask an Astronomer" project.

Wife: Irene Hansen Osterbrock (m. 1953)
Daughter: Carol Osterbrock LePage
Daughter: Laura Osterbrock
Son: William Osterbrock

    University: BS Physics, University of Chicago (1947)
    University: MS Astronomy, University of Chicago (1949)
    Scholar: Yerkes Observatory, University of Chicago (1949-52)
    University: PhD Astronomy, University of Chicago (1952)
    Scholar: Astronomy, Princeton University (1952-53)
    Teacher: Astronomy, California Institute of Technology (1953-58)
    Teacher: Astronomy, University of Wisconsin-Madison (1958-61)
    Professor: Astronomy, University of Wisconsin-Madison (1961-73)
    Administrator: Director of Washburn Observatory, University of Wisconsin-Madison (1961-73)
    Professor: Astronomy and Astrophysics, University of California at Santa Cruz (1973-92)
    Administrator: Director of Lick Observatory, University of California at Santa Cruz (1973-81)

    Royal Astronomical Society Gold Medal 1997
    Bruce Medal 1991
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences
    American Astronomical Society President (1988-90)
    American Philosophical Society
    National Academy of Sciences
    Asteroid Namesake 6107 Osterbrock
    German Ancestry

Author of books:
James E. Keeler: Pioneer American Astrophysicist, and the Early Development of American Astrophysics (1984, biography)
Eye on the Sky: Lick Observatory's First Century (1988, with John Gustafson and Shiloh Unruh)
Astrophysics of Gaseous Nebulae and Active Galactic Nuclei (1989, textbook)
Pauper and Prince: Ritchey, Hale and Big American Telescopes (1993, non-fiction)
Yerkes Observatory, 1892-1950: The Birth, Near Death, and Resurrection of a Scientific Research Institution (1997, nonfiction)
Walter Baade: A Life in Astrophysics (2001, biography)


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