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Harry turns 80

Submitter: Jan Noordam
Description: Last week we celebrated the 80st birthday of Harry van der Laan with a mini-symposium in the old Sterrewacht in Leiden. A glittering list of speakers highlighted his many contributions to the development of (inter)national modern astrophysics. Apart from running (and revitalizing) the Sterrewacht for almost 20 years, he reorganized SRZM (later called NFRA and now ASTRON) for operating the WSRT, he initiated the UK/NL collaboration on La Palma and Hawaii, and reorganized ESO for building the VLT. He also helped to launch EVN/JIVE, and to secure the funds for LOFAR.

The image shows Harry and his Renate, surrounded by the speakers (except Vincent Icke) and the organizers of the symposium. The event was attended by his extended family, which included not only his children and grandchildren, but also many of his "spiritual" children who have benefited from his vision and encouragement. Fond memories (and some anecdotes) were exchanged about Harry's years at the helm.

Harry was particularly pleased by being compared to a bulldozer by one of the speakers, and pointed out that this was always his mandate. He acknowledged that there might be situations that could require more diplomacy, but his brand of gentle firmness was needed when things actually had to be done. Of course we all raised our glass to that.

Congratulations, Harry, and thank you.
Copyright: Madroon Community Consultants (MCC)
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