Irene Hansen Osterbrock named Patron of the AAS

Irene Osterbrock
The American Astronomical Society (AAS) has named Irene Hansen Osterbrock a Patron of the Society to recognize her lifetime contributions to and support of astronomy. She was married to the late Donald Osterbrock, who served as director of UC's Lick Observatory from 1973 to 1981 and was a professor of astronomy and astrophysics at UC Santa Cruz. Ms. Osterbrock is a long-standing member of the UCSC Women's Club.

Irene Hansen, a native of Williams Bay, Wisconsin, was working as an assistant to William W. Morgan at the Yerkes Observatory when she met graduate student Donald E. Osterbrock. They married shortly after he finished his Ph.D. in 1952. For the next 54 years, Irene helped Don with his work. As he moved gradually into the history of astronomy in his later years, she took a great interest, editing and indexing all of his books and articles and contributing from her personal experience to his book Yerkes Observatory, 1892-1950.

At Lick Observatory, Irene Osterbrock volunteered to help Mary Lea Shane to organize and run the observatory's Mary Lea Shane Archives, and she continued to help manage them after Mrs. Shane's death. She attended nearly all of the Historical Astronomy Division sessions at AAS meetings for many years, accompanying Don, who was the most prolific contributor to those sessions.

The AAS Council may designate any person who has rendered conspicuous service to astronomy other than through scientific contributions as a Patron of the Society. Very few individuals have been so honored during the society's history. A certificate was presented to Ms. Osterbrock at the Seattle AAS meeting in January.