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Thomas R. (Dick) Carson (1930–2019)

Carson wrote foundational papers in the field of stellar opacity, which he later applied to calculations of stellar structure and pulsation. He spent the bulk of his career at the University of St. Andrews.

Published onDec 28, 2020
Thomas R. (Dick) Carson (1930–2019)

Photo reproduced from Astronomy and Geophysics, vol. 61, issue 2, April 2020, page 2.16, where there are more details about Carson’s life to be found, and also a photo of him from the 1950s.

Thomas Richard Carson died on Wednesday the 27th of November, 2019.

Thomas Richard (Dick) Carson, born on October 7, 1930, was the son of Johnston and Rebecca (Farrell) Carson. He was a native of County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland.

He studied at Queens University Belfast, obtaining a BS in 1952, then a PhD in atomic and molecular physics under the supervision of David Bates in 1955. After brief spells at the University of Glasgow and the UK atomic weapons research establishment, he was appointed to a Lectureship in the astronomy department at St. Andrews University in October, 1960, and subsequently promoted to Reader in 1967. In his early career Dick wrote foundational papers in the field of stellar opacity, which he later applied to calculations of stellar structure and pulsation. Following retirement in 1996, Dick continued his research interests for many years.

On July 3, 1971, he married Ursula Margaret Mary Davies. They had one son, David Richard.

Dick had a brilliant mind. He loved exploring the world of theoretical physics. He was a wonderfully kind but, at the same time, a very private person. He was a conscientious teacher and well liked by his students. His contributions to astronomy — particularly the fields of stellar opacities and pulsation models for Cepheid variables — have been colossal.

Dick was a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and member of the American Astronomical Society, the New York Academy of Sciences, the European Astronomical Society and the International Astronomical Union. He is survived by his son David and daughter-in-law Hayley.

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