[ASA] Richard X. McGee 1921 - 2012

Kate.Brooks at csiro.au Kate.Brooks at csiro.au
Fri Dec 21 15:20:15 AEDT 2012

Dear members of the Astronomical Society of Australia,

It is with regret that I must pass on sad news so close to Christmas. Dick McGee passed away on 19 December 2012. 

Dick was born on 31 December 1921. He enlisted in the Royal Australian Air Force in 1943, during World War II, with service in Canada and the UK as the war ended in 1945. His war record is full of praise from his commanding officers. Dick returned to Australia in 1946 and was part of the postwar influx of veterans at university. He graduated with a BSc in physics with first class Honours in Physics in 1950 from the University of Sydney, having worked as a vacation student at the nearby National Standards Laboratory of the CSIRO. He worked at the Division of Radiophysics from 1950 to his retirement at the end of 1986 (on his birthday). He received the DSc degree in Physics from the University of Sydney in 1967.

During the 36 year period he worked at CSIRO, he carried out ground breaking research on the Galactic Centre and the Magellanic Clouds. His first research at CSIRO was with the hole in the ground telescope at  Dover Heights - leading to the famous paper by McGee and Bolton 1954, Nature vol 173, 985. The title was "Probable Observation of the galactic nucleus at 400 mc/s. ". The paper reported the discovery of Sgr A and was a step forward in establishing that Sgr A was in fact  the galactic centre.    McGee was an active user of the Parkes telescope for many years using the newly discovered line of HI at 21 cm. In 1995 he started a number of  historical project collaborations. He was also renown to those that worked with him  for his amazing sense of humour. 

Dick is a founding member of the Astronomical Society of Australia. He was the secretary during 1961and served as editor of the Society's journal (then known as Proceedings of the Astronomical Society of Australia) between 1971 to 1988, our longest serving editor so far. In 1990 Dick was made an Honorary Fellow of the Society. 

Dick is a co-author of the books ' Under the Radar  The First Woman in Radio Astronomy, Ruby Payne-Scott ' (2009) by Miller Goss and Richard McGee and  ‘ Explorers  of the Southern Sky – A History of Australian Astronomy ‘ (1996) by Raymond Haynes, Roslynn Haynes, David Malin and Richard McGee.

Our thoughts are with Dick's family at this time. Many of you know Dick's wife, Lyn Newton, and their daughter, Katherine Newton-McGee. They would like me to pass on the details of Dick's funeral arrangements:

Memorial service on Thursday 27 December 2012 at 10:30am, 
at Northern Suburbs Crematorium, East Chapel, 199 Delhi Rd, North Ryde
followed by a wake at his home in Eastwood

Kate Brooks
President, ASA

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