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26th of October 2016
ATNF Colloquium
Bruce Slee's 70 years in radio astronomy
by Wayne Orchiston (NARIT)
Abstract. Owen Bruce Slee, one of the pioneers of Australian radio astronomy, died on 18 August 2016, a week after his 92nd birthday. During WW II he independently discovered solar radio emission, and after joining the CSIRO's Division of Radiophysics in 1946 he used a succession of increasingly more sophisticated radio telescopes to examine an amazing variety of celestial objects and phenomena. These ranged from the solar corona and other targets in our Solar System, to different types of stars, nebulae and the ISM in our Galaxy, and beyond to distant galaxies and clusters of galaxies. In the 1990s he also added history of radio astronomy to his research portfolio. After retiring from ATNF, Bruce continued his research in astrophysics and history of astronomy as an ATNF and later a CASS Research Associate right up until his death, and further papers that he co-authored are in press or currently in preparation.

A quiet unassuming man, Bruce Slee spent more than 70 years making a unique wide-ranging contribution to radio astronomy, and the IAU recognised this earlier this year when they named a minor planet after him. In this paper I will highlight some of Bruce's earlier less well-known contributions, ending with his innovative use of the Culgoora Radioheliograph (which he called the `Culgoora Circular Array') for non-solar research. I also will briefly discuss his research on the history of Australian radio astronomy.

Image caption: The original Mills Cross built in the 1950s on the outskirts of Sydney produced the ground-breaking MSH (Mills, Slee & Hill 1958, 1960, 1962) catalogue of 2270 radio sources, triggering a famous controversy in cosmology. In 1955 Bruce Slee is seen examining one of the chart recorders, with other instrumentation visible in the foreground.

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