Jim Cohen (1948 - 2006)
and the methanol multibeam survey

Jim and Pat Cohen at Parkes 2006; Photo: John Reynolds
(click on photo for larger version)

Jim died 1 November 2006 — to the dismay of all who knew him. A fitting tribute was published in the UK Telegraph, Tuesday 7 November (online at telegraph.co.uk). The obituary records Jim's many contributions to Jodrell Bank and to the worldwide astronomical community. Jim was a meticulous research scientist, a teacher especially appreciated by successive research students, and, through the International Telecommunications Union, was heavily involved in negotiations to regulate radio spectrum usage so as to protect radio astronomy from interference — negotiations where his diplomacy and quiet humour were most effective.

At the ATNF, we have fond memories of an exceptional trusted friend and colleague, of great personal and scientific integrity. In 2006, Jim was a distinguished visitor with the ATNF for several months, based at Epping and making extensive trips to the observatories, especially Parkes. He was here primarily to ensure a successful beginning for the methanol multibeam maser survey, from which the first results, and receiver details, are described in the ATNF News February 2006, Issue No. 58. Jim devoted enormous energy to the project and was the key participant at every one of our six major observing sessions over the past year. Jim's wife Pat was fortunately able to be involved with the survey firsthand and help us on one of the long Parkes Observatory sessions.

The methanol survey is a major collaborative effort between Jodrell Bank and the ATNF, with the survey and follow-up involving astronomers from nine institutions; more than half of the astronomers are from the UK, led by Jim. The sad loss of Jim from the team has inevitably increased the workload on the other team members, but as we reach the halfway stage of the 2-year Parkes portion of the survey, we are very pleased to be well on track to achieve Jim's vision for the project. A progress report will be made at the international maser meeting in Alice Springs in March (IAU Symposium 242), where Jim was intended to be an invited speaker. It will be an ideal opportunity for his maser colleagues from many countries to recall the many good times they have spent with Jim.

The completion of this survey over the next few years will be a legacy of Jim's efforts. But — we miss you Jim... and when the critical decisions need to be made, rest assured that we will all be reflecting carefully on what you might have suggested.

James Caswell