April 14, 2010

Friends to celebrate life of astronomer Bill Gordon

The Department of Astronomy will celebrate the life and work of William Gordon, founder of the Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico, at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 15, in G10 Biotech.

Gordon, who died Feb. 16, was the Walter R. Reed Professor of Electrical Engineering at Cornell in 1958 when he began designing the radio telescope to study the Earth's upper atmosphere and nearby space.

Built in the limestone hills of northwest Puerto Rico, the 305-meter (1,000-foot)-wide telescope is the most powerful radio telescope in the world, and a central tool for research in astronomy, atmospheric science, planetary science and engineering.

In 1966 Gordon moved to Rice University, where he served as a professor, dean, provost and vice president before retiring in 1986.

Gordon will be remembered as "one of the world's great radio telescope designers," said Cornell President Emeritus Dale Corson, who was dean of the College of Engineering in 1959, when the telescope was being designed.