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In Memoriam Kurt Weiler (1943-2016)

Submitter: Friends of Kurt
Description: After a long battle with cancer Kurt Weiler passed away at the age of 74 on 17 April, 2016. Kurt was the first Telescope Astronomer of the Westerbork Synthesis Radio Telescope, he worked for ASTRON from 1970 to 1974. He was young, not a man of many words, but very well-liked and very knowledgeable.

His greatest contribution to the WSRT was the careful analysis and calibration of the polarisation properties of the original frontends, which correlated "crossed" dipole sets from separate telescopes, i.e. in the case of the WSRT dipoles that were at 90 degrees angle in each telescope, but at 45 degrees angle between telescopes. See K.W. Weiler, The Synthesis Radio Telescope at Westerbork. Methods of Polarization Measurement A&A, Vol. 26, p. 403 (1973). Because of its design, the WSRT is still the best radio telescope in the world for polarisation measurements.

After his WSRT period, Kurt was with the Max-Planck-Institut fur Radioastronomie in Bonn from 1976 to 1979. He returned to his native USA to work at the National Science Foundation (NSF), and then at the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL). His major interest was in Supernovae, for which he was editor of the book on Supernovae and Gamma-Ray Bursters (Springer 2003).

In the meantime he continued to interact with ASTRON in various ways. In 1997 he was short-listed for the function of Head of the Telescope Group, and while at USNO he was briefly involved in the LOFAR Consortium. In addition, he was active in several other fields that were also of interest to ASTRON, like optical interferometry from the ground (BOA) and the observation of (very) low frequency radio waves (1-10MHz) from space.

Kurt is survived by his (Dutch) wife Geertje and their three children. A memorial service will be held in the Netherlands at a later date.
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