View Full Version : Allan Sandage, 1926-2010

2010-Nov-16, 01:43 PM
Word just in that Allan Sandage has died. For decades, his work was observational cosmology. He worked closely with Hubble, and took over Hubble's program after his death. Sandage compiled galaxy classifications for the famous Hubble Atlas of Galaxies, which taught many of us to classify. He did seminal work on the cosmic distance scale, uncovering quasars, testing the origin of redshifts in cosmic expansion, and stellar populations. Dennis Overbye's book Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos included a long profile of Sandage. I had the valued chance to speak with him in the early 1980s, while still a grad student passing through Pasadena, and discuss galaxy morphology and spectra.

Every time one of these figures departs, I am reminded - "there were giants in the Earth on those days".

2010-Nov-16, 02:00 PM

In the book : Origins: The Lives and Worlds of Modern Cosmologists (http://www.amazon.com/Origins-Lives-Worlds-Modern-Cosmologists/dp/0674644719/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1289915593&sr=1-1) by Alan Lightman and Roberta Brawer he gave an interview on January 11, 1989 at Pasadena, and the authors include a short bio.

I acquired and read this book in the early nineties and it was my introduction to his work.

2010-Nov-16, 03:17 PM
There was, I think, a small telescope at the Mount Stromlo observatory (in Australia), somewhat away from the main collection of 'scopes (they're all gone now, I think, following the devastating forest fire a few years' ago).

Allan Sandage used it to observe the Magellanic Clouds (when? I don't have any dates). Why (apart from the sheer delight he obviously took in doing observational astronomy)? Because, he said, with that telescope you'd get a view of galaxies that was somewhat comparable to that of more distant galaxies observed using the Palomar 200 inch, and so sidestep many of the inevitable biases involved in doing extragalactic astronomy.

Simple, yet elegant and highly do-able; Allan Sandage to a T.

Another great observer has left us.

2010-Nov-17, 03:18 AM
I read about him in Dennis Overbye's "Lonely Hearts of the Cosmos". Sadly, I never got to meet him in person, though I wanted to.

2010-Nov-17, 04:51 AM
One of the great ones - Sandage spent much of his career making precision measurement when differences in photo emulsions made such measurements extremely difficult. His surface brightness measurements are seminal. ...

anything celestial named after Sandage as a tribute?

2010-Nov-17, 02:22 PM
Hubble-Sandage variables (also known as luminous blue variables), asteroid 9963. Every time we refer to the ELS picture of galaxy formation, the S is him.

As Nick Suntzeff has pointed out, many of his results have become such a part of the common knowledge of the field that the papers aren't even cited any more.