Yale Bulletin and Calendar

November 22-December 6, 1999Volume 28, Number 14

One highlight of the astronomy department's recent reunion included a visit to the new observatory on top of Pierson-Sage Garage. Speaking at the facility are (from left) research assistant Avi Mandell and Yale alumni Douglas O'Handley '64 M.S., '67 Ph.D. and Douglas Downing '79 B.S., '87 Ph.D.

Astronomy sponsors its first reunion

Five decades of stargazers came together on Nov. 12 to kick off the department of astronomy's first-ever reunion of its graduate school alumni and undergraduate majors.

Throughout the weekend, participants relived fond memories, reflected on perspectives of astronomy and explored new frontiers in astronomy through lectures, workshops, tours and a series of short talks. Charles Bailyn '81, chair of the astronomy department, said he was thrilled at the number of alumni who agreed to come back to share in the festivities.

"There are normally only about three to six graduate students in a given year and to have a showing of over 45 people is incredible," Bailyn said. "It truly reflects the enthusiasm for astronomy that still exists after decades in the field. We're a very small department, so we thought it would be nice to not only include graduate students, but the undergraduate alumni as well."

The participants paid tribute to the work of Pierre DeMarque, the Munson Professor Emeritus of Natural Philosophy and Astronomy. DeMarque has been the leading light of the department for thirty years, Bailyn said.

"The entire scientific workshop on Challenges in Stellar Evolution is dedicated to Pierre, who devoted his career to studying and teaching students about the stars," said Bailyn. "He mentored most of us and he represents the essence of the department. Although he's retired, he remains very active in the department."

Dorrit Hoffleit, senior research astronomer at Yale and author of "Astronomy at Yale 1701 to 1968," delivered the featured presentation, "My First Meeting With Pierre Demarque: Yale Astrophysics 'Before' and 'After.'"

Astronomy department alumni from different decades made 15-minute presentations on astronomy topics ranging from "Rotation of Cluster Stars" to "Stellar Seismology."

"Astronomy, Yale and New Haven have all truly changed since I've been back," said Frederick Hollander '41 who last visited Yale 15 years ago. "I read about the new buildings and the new observatory, but it's not the same as seeing them first hand. It feels good to be back."

The main attraction for many alumni was the new observatory on top of Pierson-Sage garage. Undergraduate alumni Daniel Pisano '96 inspected the telescope along with graduate school alumni Y.C. Kim '93.

"I learned so much from professors and fellow students while I was here," said Pisano. "It's nice to see old faces and also make new friends and spend time with people who are just as passionate about astronomy as I am."

-- By Karen Peart


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