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In memoriam Dan Harris 1934-2015

Submitter: Jan Noordam
Description: Dan Harris was the first astronomical postdoc(*) in Dwingeloo, between 1975 and 1978. He died last week, after four-score fully-lived years. According to his children (Justine, Seth and Leila): A passionate and world-traveling astronomer, Dad conformed to no social norm. His adventures are legion, but include sailing across the Atlantic in 1964, rafting down the Amazon with our mom, and climbing Mt. Washington with the entire family last year on his 80th birthday.

He ended his scientific orbit at Harvard CfA. In the words of Jim Moran: Dan was the High Energy Division's "in house" radio astronomer, having worked at several of the major radio observatories including Arecibo and Westerbork, before expanding his wavelength coverage to X-rays. He brought a remarkable enthusiasm and love of astronomy to all his projects. Over his career, Dan's interests spanned supernova remnants, interplanetary scintillation, cluster magnetic fields and inverse Compton emission, radio galaxies, and AGN. Most recently, he was studying jets from extragalactic sources (see his Annual Review article "X-ray Emission from Extragalactic Jets" in 2006) and surveying the 3CR Catalog using Chandra.

But of course there was more. For instance, as related by Tony Willis, Dan was one of the authors of the Caltech A survey back in 1961. A source in the survey, CTA 102, was one of the first radio sources to show variability, and the Russian astronomer N.S. Kardashev caused a sensation when he suggested that it might be a signature of an alien civilization. This suggestion turned out to be wrong, but Dan remains the only radio astronomer that I know of to have one of his discoveries become the theme of a song by a famous pop group, The Byrds, in 1967. You can listen to it on YouTube (www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1mXIiM9QjA)

The two side-by-side images show him and his Barbara(**) in the same setting, punting on the Cam, but 35 years apart. They mated for life. A memorial service will be scheduled in the Boston area some months from now. Dates and details will be provided as plans develop.

See also: http://www.atnf.csiro.au/people/bkoribal/ATNF-DailyImage/archive/2015/19-Dec-2015.html

(*) It was not easy to persuade the astronomical community that SRZM needed active astronomers on-site in Dwingeloo, to help build the right kind of instruments. The first batch (Harris, Strom, Schilizzi, De Bruyn, Kapahi, Robertson) all went on to greatness, each in their own way.
(**) It is not easy to be larger than life, unless you have a significant other that makes it all possible.
Copyright: Harris family
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