Renowned astronomer dies yesterday

To: UCSC Community

From: Acting Chancellor Blumenthal

It is with great sadness that I write to inform you that one of our most distinguished faculty members, Donald Osterbrock, died suddenly on Thursday. An eminent astronomer, leading authority on the history of astronomy, and former director of UC's Lick Observatory, Don was 82.

A professor emeritus of astronomy and astrophysics, Don was on campus at the time of his death. He had continued to work at UCSC and mentor students after his official retirement in 1992.

It is without exaggeration that I say that Don was one of the world's most important and influential astronomers during the latter half of the twentieth century. His path breaking research covered an impressive range of subjects--from understanding the nature of ionized gas around hot stars to discovering and studying new types of active galactic nuclei, which are powered by black holes in the centers of galaxies.

Don was also an amazing teacher, and his former graduate students comprise a significant part of the leadership of American astronomy today. His books on gaseous nebulae and active galaxies are classics in astronomy, and later in life, Don wrote several fascinating books dealing with the history of American astronomy.

In addition, Don was a gifted leader of UC's Lick Observatory, bringing in outstanding scientific talent and beginning the planning for the Ten-Meter Keck Telescopes.

As a colleague in astronomy and astrophysics and a longtime friend, I had enormous admiration for him. We will all miss his wisdom and humanity.

Don's survivors include his wife, Irene; three children, William Osterbrock and Carol LePage, both of Santa Cruz, and Laura Osterbrock of Seattle; and three grandchildren. Details regarding a memorial event are not yet available.

Please join me in extending condolences to Irene, their children, other family members, and to Don's many friends and colleagues, on and off campus.

For more information about Don's impressive career, please see an obituary distributed today by our Public Information Office: