Friday, June 5, 2009

June 5: John Gatenby Bolton

John Gatenby Bolton
June 5, 1922 – July 6, 1993

John Bolton was a British-Australian astronomer from Sheffield, England. He attended King Edward VII School (Sheffield), followed by Trinity College, Cambridge from 1940 to 1942, during which time he met C. P. Snow. After graduation he joined the navy, serving on HMS Unicorn during World War II. His ship went to Australia; he remained there after the war. In September 1946 he began working at the CSIRO Division of Radiophysics. At that time the field of radio astronomy was quite new and Bolton took the opportunity to become a pioneer in the field with experimentation at Dover Heights. His group found a number of radio sources in the sky, and realized that certain "radio stars" were actually located outside our galaxy and worked on mapping the structure of our galaxy.

He held a fellowship at Caltech beginning in 1955. In 1956, he resigned his position at CSIRO to become Professor of Radio Astronomy at Caltech, but he returned to Australia just a few years later to help build the Parkes radio telescope. This telescope found some distant radio sources now known to be quasars. It also helped transmit the video of the first Moon landing by Neil Armstrong.

He won the Henry Norris Russell Lectureship in 1968, the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1977 and the Bruce Medal in 1988.

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