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Arthur Page – A Tribute
Arthur Anthony Page was born in Yokohama, Japan, on the 3rd August 1922. His father, Anton Papadopolo, was born in Odessa to Greek parents. Arthur’s mother, Elena Orbinskaya, was the daughter of Professor Artyemy Orbinsky, one of imperial Russia's best known astronomers. They escaped to Yokohama from the turmoil of post-revolutionary Russia in 1920 and Anton reinvented himself as an import/export entrepreneur, eventually becoming Greek consul. The family narrowly survived the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 after which they relocated to Kobe where Arthur attended the Anglican English Mission School.
In 1941 the family made an eleventh hour dash out of an increasingly hostile Japan several months before the bombing of Pearl Harbor. When their ship called in to Fremantle, Western Australia, they disembarked and made formal application to remain in Australia. During World War II, Arthur -- who spoke both perfect English and Japanese – served in the Australian Army in the South West Pacific as a translator, interpreter and interrogator for military intelligence on attachment to the U.S. Army. Of note was his deft handling of the surrender of Japanese forces at Bandjermasin in 1945. Post-war he reached the rank of Colonel in the Australian Army Reserve. His tertiary education from the University of Queensland and his subsequent professional career were devoted to physiotherapy. Specialising in the rehabilitation of amputees, he headed the Physiotherapy Unit of the Commonwealth Rehabilitation Centre in Brisbane until retirement in 1983.
Arthur’s interest in astronomy dated from childhood in Japan and, in 1954, he began a close association with professional astronomical research in Australia through collaboration with Australian radio astronomy pioneer, Bruce Slee, at the CSIRO Division of Radiophysics ¬– as it was then known. Arthur since published some fifty works, including 3 star catalogues of flare stars and B emission stars. He also spent time in 1963 as a Visiting Observer at Mt Stromlo Observatory near Canberra, working with Professor Bart Bok.
In 1966 Arthur was a founding member of the Astronomical Society of Australia (ASA), Australia’s national professional association, and was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Australian Institute of Physics. In 1985 Arthur was also the first non-professional to become a member of the IAU.
Arthur’s unpaid research support for the CSIRO was in the role of flare star observer. He diligently used visual, then photographic and finally, photoelectric means, to monitor red dwarfs to observe flares. Arthur’s contribution to flare star research was awarded the Copernicus Gold Medal in 1973 at a ceremony in Brisbane City Hall in 1973. In 1995 the University of Queensland awarded Arthur an honorary Doctorate of Philosophy (Science) for his decades of flare star research.
Arthur established two private observatories. In the 1960s, he and his wife Berenice, founded the North Chermside Observatory in Brisbane, devoting this facility to visual and photographic flare star monitoring. After Berenice’s sudden death in 1970 Arthur founded Mt Tamborine Observatory in the hinterland of Queensland’s Gold Coast and set up the facility for flare star photometry. The CSIRO Division of Radiophysics supported his endeavours by funding a refit of his telescope at the University of Tasmania and by providing photoelectric instrumentation.
From 1987 onwards Arthur worked as an Honorary Research Consultant at the University of Queensland. He was a key figure in the establishment of Mt. Kent Observatory in southern Queensland in the 1980’s and 1990’s – a facility that in effect replaced Tamborine Observatory. Mt Kent Observatory was developed as a joint facility of the University of Queensland (Brisbane) and the University of Southern Queensland (Toowoomba). Arthur donated his time, the Tamborine telescope and other equipment, to support the new facility’s development. Mt Kent Observatory was officially opened in July 1996 as part of the Photoelectric Photometry 5 conference held at USQ and is operated today as a robotic and remote-access facility for astronomical reduction, research training and outreach to support the “Shared Skies Partnership” between USQ and the University of Louisville. Arthur is honoured at Mt Kent through the Arthur Page dome. While the original 'Page Telescope' from Mt Tamborine has been taken off-site, the replacement 'Louisville' telescope has been dubbed by some: the 'Arthur Page' telescope.
In 1972 Arthur founded the Berenice Page Medal in memory of his late wife and astronomical enthusiast, Berenice. The ASA continues to offer this award biennially for excellence in amateur astronomy in Australia and its territories and renamed it the Berenice and Arthur Page Medal after Arthur's death.
Arthur was married three times: from 1947 to 1963 to Muriel Woods, from 1963 to 1970 to Berenice Rose who passed away suddenly aged 41 from a cerebral aneurysm and finally from 1971 to 2011 to Aileen Goddard who only survived him by 19 months. Arthur is survived by his children, Meredith and Robert Page and step-children, Anne Donohue and Carl and Samantha Goddard.
Outside of his careers in the military, physiotherapy and astronomy, Arthur achieved excellence in many pursuits, the most notable being clay target shooting which he pursued until a few months before his death.
He passed away from peritonitis on 1st February, 2011.
Arthur’s life was, in many ways, extraordinary. His book Between Victor and Vanquished illustrated the earlier part of the story. The family maintains comprehensive records and memorabilia of the rest of his remarkable life.
Between victor and vanquished : an Australian interrogator in the war against Japan
Arthur Page, Published by the Australia. Dept. of Defence. Army History Unit, Australian Military History Publications, Loftus (N.S.W.), 2008.
Proceedings, 5th Photoelectric Photometry Conference, Trans-Tasman, 1996 July 7-11, Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia, Volume 6, Issues 5-6 of the Australian journal of astronomy, A. A. Page, B. D. Carter, B. J. O’Mara (editors), Astral Press, 1996
Obituary written by: B.D. Carter, Meredith Page, Greg Bond
BAAS Citation: BAAS, 2013, 45, 001