Galaxy hunter Hyron Spinrad dies at 81

January 4, 2016

Hspinrad410 Spinrad in 1995, upon announcing that he had obtained the first image of what was then the most distant galaxy, at a redshift of 4.25. Jane Scherr photo.

Galactic researcher Dr. Hyron "Hy" Spinrad, 81, passed away on December 7, 2015 in Walnut Creek, CA, after a long illness. Born in 1934 in Brooklyn, NY, Hyron soon made his way to California, where he later obtained his degree in Astronomy and Ph. D at UC Berkeley, accomplishments that bookmarked his time in the U.S. Army. He joined the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he specialized in stellar planet atmosphere compositions, most notably discovering water vapor in the atmosphere of Mars in 1963.

The University of California, Berkeley recruited Hyron as an astronomy professor in 1964, a position he held for the rest of his long career. Hy was known at Cal for his research on stellar composition, formation and evolution of galaxies, and comets. He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences and was honored with the 1986 Heineman Prize for outstanding work in astrophysics. Asteroid 3207 Spinrad was named for him. Even after his retirement in 2005, Hy never lost his passion for teaching astronomy, delivering lectures in the mid-stages of his illness and answering questions from anyone who was curious to learn more about the subjects he loved.

The Department is grateful for Hy’s years of never-ending dedication and hard work; he will be immensely missed.

An in-depth overview and memorial of Hyron's impressive research, work, and time with Berkeley can be found here.