Pioneering radio astronomer Harold Weaver dies at age 99

May 3, 2017

Weaver750 Harold Weaver in 1981. (Woody Sullivan photo)

Harold Francis Weaver, a pioneer of radio astronomy who discovered the first microwave laser, or maser, in space, passed away peacefully in his Kensington, California, home on April 26 at the age of 99.

Weaver was a professor emeritus of astronomy, the founder of UC Berkeley’s Radio Astronomy Laboratory and its director from 1958 until 1972 and a former chairman of the Department of Astronomy.

As a young astronomer at the University of California’s Lick Observatory near San Jose, and starting in 1951 as a member of the UC Berkeley astronomy faculty, Weaver became keenly aware of the potential of radio astronomy, which at the time was a young field. Many objects in space give off radio waves, from gas clouds and stars to galaxies, and today astronomers even observe microwave background radiation to infer the early history of the universe shortly after the Big Bang. Continue reading…