On May 1, 1992, Professor Emeritus of Astronomy Robert J. Wood died suddenly at age 75. Central Florida lost one of its great teachers of astronomy. He was the designer of Astronaut Hall and the professor of astronomy at Brevard Community college, Cocoa, Florida. Many thousands of students in the Cape Canaveral area went through his famous classes from 1964 until his retirement in 1984.
Robert Wood’s accomplishments were many. He and his students collectively timed approximately 3300 lunar occultations and many grazes. He is credited with the discovery of three previously unknown binary stars and caught a flare in the previously unknown variable Epsilon Pegasi. He obtained the first photographs in the United States of Nova Cygni 1975, before it peaked in brightness. He was a faithful member of the American Meteor Society, collecting fireball reports for 55 years. Robert Wood actively supported amateur astronomy throughout his life, serving as advisor to the Brevard Astronomical Society for over two decades.
Teaching astronomy was a second career, for he spent 21 years in the U.S. Navy rising to the rank of Lt. Commander. During World War II, he commanded a flotilla of four Destroyer Escorts. His greatest joy was when the Captain of a Japanese aircraft carrier surrendered his ship and sword to him. After the war, he ventured to Antarctica with Admiral Byrd in 1946-47.
Robert Wood was a member of the American Astronomical Society and MENSA.