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Emma Ruth Hedeman, 95, longtime astronomer at McMath-Hulbert Solar Observatory, died of heart failure on 25 January 2006 at her home in Annapolis, Maryland. Born on 25 November 1910 to Emma Elizabeth Koppelman and Walter Rider Hedeman, Ruth Hedeman attended Eastern High School in Baltimore, graduating in 1928. She obtained her B.A. from Goucher College in Baltimore in 1931 and her M.A. in Mathematics from Duke University in 1936. She taught elementary mathematics, first at Goucher, then back at Eastern High School, until 1942, when she joined the U. S. Navy WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) during World War II.
Hedeman was trained in atmospheric science and meteorology and served as aerological officer at the Naval Air Stations in Klamath Falls, Oregon, and Seattle. She had advanced to the rank of Lieutenant, Senior Grade, by the time she left the Navy in 1946. Hedeman was awarded a Dean Van Meter Fellowship to pursue graduate studies in astronomy at the University of Michigan, where she earned an M.S. in 1948. In the following decades, she conducted research in solar astronomy at the McMath-Hulbert Observatory, then affiliated with the University of Michigan. She retired in 1987 after some 40 years on staff.
Among Hedeman’s many publications is her 1971 paper, “An Experimental Comprehensive Flare Index and Its Derivation for ‘Major’ Flares, 1955-1969,” co-written with Helen W. Dodson, which introduced the Comprehensive Flare Index (Upper Atmospheric Geophysics, Report UAG-14, World Data Center A, plus its updates UAG-52 in 1975 and UAG-80 in 1981). Other noteworthy publications are “Major Hα Flares in Centers of Activity with very Small or no Spots” (Solar Physics 13 (1970): 401-419); “Some Patterns in the Development of Centers of Solar Activity, 1962-66” (International Astronomical Union Symposium no. 35, 1968); and “Comments on the Course of Solar Activity during the Declining Phase of Solar Cycle 20, 1970-74” (Solar Physics 42 (1975): 121-130).
An avid genealogist and world traveler, Hedeman completed an around-the-world tour in 1973. She was a strong advocate for women’s higher education and an active alumna of Goucher. She is buried in Parkwood Cemetery, Parkville, Maryland.
Photo: University of Michigan Record
Obituary written by: Alan Hirshfeld (UMass Darthmouth)
BAAS Citation: BAAS, 2018, 50, 024