The Early Years
Gart Westerhout was born 15 June 1927 in The Hague, The Netherlands. He was
the son of Gart Westerhout, an architect, and Magda Foppe, an author. His
interest in astronomy dates from when his father designed a sanitarium for
tuberculosis patients who could gaze at constellations while lying on their
backs. Prompted by reading several popular books about astronomy, he became a
student at Leiden University in 1945. In early 1950 he started research in
radio astronomy, working with Jan Hendrik Oort on a model of the Galactic
continuum radiation (Westerhout and Oort 1951, BAN 11, 323), and then
became heavily involved in the first 21-cm Galactic hydrogen-line studies
carried out with the Kootwijk Wurzburg antenna. In 1954 he had a five-month
stint of military service that was cut short when Oort convinced the State
Council that his work was indispensable to the Observatory. In 1955 he and
Maarten Schmidt developed the first detailed 21-cm map of the Milky Way that
showed the first hints of spiral structure in the interstellar gas, revealed
differential rotation in our Galaxy, and established a revised Galactic
coordinate system still in use today. After 1956, using the Dwingeloo 25-meter
radio telescope, Westerhout worked on a major 75-cm survey (Seeger,
Westerhout, Conway, Hoekema 1965: BAN 18, 11), and carried out early
work on polarization of the Galactic background radiation. He used the
Dwingeloo antenna to produce the "Westerhout Radio Catalog" that eventually
identified 79 sources that were continuum emitters including some of the
largest star formation regions in the Milky Way. During these exciting times
at Leiden he was among the youngest in a pioneering group of his
contemporaries that included Hendrik van de Hulst, Hugo van Woerden, C. Lex
Muller, Maarten Schmidt, Lodewijk Woltjer, and Charles L. Seeger, Jr. (son of
the ethnomusicologist and brother of Pete Seeger). Other students included Wim
Brouw, Mike Davis, Ernst Raimond, Whitney Shane and Jaap Tinbergen. While at
Leiden University, he held the posts of Assistant (1952–56), Scientific
Officer (1956–59), and Chief Scientific Officer (1959–62). He was awarded
Physics and Astronomy degrees from the University of Leiden: Cand. (1950) and
Drs. (1954) and was awarded a Ph.D. in Astronomy and Physics in 1958. At his
first IAU General Assembly, at Dublin in 1955, Gart met Judith Monaghan, who
worked at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies; they fell in love and
were married a year later.
The Maryland Years
Westerhout came to the US in 1962 as Professor and Director of Astronomy at
the University of Maryland where, during the next 15 years, he grew a
12-graduate-student department into one of the nation’s prominent astronomy
programs. In 1972, Dr. Westerhout organized the University of Maryland's
division of mathematical, physical and engineering sciences and was named its
head the next year. He continued his research with a 21-cm survey that used
the 91-m radio telescope of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory to extend
to higher angular resolution our knowledge of Galactic structure. He often
flew a rented plane between Maryland and Green Bank with his programmer, Heinz
Wendtland. He continued at Maryland in that role through 1973, with additional
responsibilities from 1972-73 as Chairman of the Division of Mathematical
& Physical Sciences and Engineering. He was a Visiting Astronomer at the
Max-Planck-Institut für Radioastronomie (MPIfR) in Bonn, Germany in
The US Naval Observatory Years
From 1977-1993 he left the University of Maryland to become the Scientific
Director of the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington DC. While there, he
guided the evolution of that observatory toward astronomical data obtained
from telescopes at the Flagstaff station. He initiated the radio astrometry in
1979 by using the Green Bank interferometer to improve the absolute positions
of celestial objects by a factor of ten over the optical. It yielded
measurements of the Earth orientation parameter UT1 that were a factor of four
better than the PZTs. In the 1980s, he converted to VLBI, again increasing the
precision by a factor of ten. Again in the 1980s he looked into the use of
optical long base line astrometry for absolute positions. This now achieves
about an order of magnitude precision over other ground-based measurement but
is not as precise as space-based measurements. Again in the 1980s, he
introduced the use of CCDs at Flagstaff’s parallax program that supplanted the
use of optical plates, improving the precision by a factor of five. He was
responsible for a major expansion of the organization and construction of a
network of five radio telescopes from Florida to Hawaii that measured the
rotation of the Earth. Westerhout retired in 1993.
Westerhout, Personal Recollections and Characteristics of a Warm Friend
Gart Westerhout was an amiable and affable man, a great and noble man, with
an exceptional sense of humor and an infectious laugh. We wore a bow tie and
had flamboyance seldom found among his academic colleagues. In his early
career he smoked cigars, a signature identification. He and Judith became
American citizens in 1969. They loved to entertain, and their friendships went
far beyond his profession. He was an avid O-gauge model railroader and
maintained a detailed layout that took up most of the basement space in his
home. He was a communicant of St. Thomas Aquinas Roman Catholic Church in
Westerhout was a member of numerous astronomical organizations, including
the Dutch Astronomical Society, International Astronomical Union (Commissions
33, 34, 40, 24 & 5), American Astronomical Society (Councilor 1975-78
& Vice President 1985-87), Royal Astronomical Society and the Astronomical
Society of the Pacific, International Scientific Radio Union (URSI), and Sigma
He contributed his scientific and management expertise widely, for example
to IAU, National Science Foundation (NSF), AAS, National Research Council,
Associated Universities Inc., Inter-Union Committee for the Allocation of
Frequencies (IUCAF), URSI, National Radio Astronomy Observatory, MPIfR, MIT's
Haystack Observatory, Arecibo Observatory, and the National Academy of
Westerhout’s awards and special recognition included a NATO Fellowship, a
CSIRO (Australia) Fellowship, an Award for the Teaching of Science, Washington
Academy of Sciences, Humboldt Prize, and listings in: Outstanding
Educators of America, American Men and Women in Science, and Who's
Who in America.
Westerhout was the author of more than 70 scientific papers, reviews and
reports. In recognition of his life's work, Minor Planet 5105, discovered by
Edward L. G. Bowell, was renamed Minor Planet Westerhout in 1991.
Gart Westerhout died of congestive heart failure on October 14, 2012, at
the age of 85 in his home at the Charlestown Retirement Community, Apt BR 502,
715 Maiden Choice Lane, Catonsville, MD 21228. He is survived by his wife of
56 years, the former Judith Monaghan of Catonsville, Maryland; two daughters,
Magda Westerhout Mobley of Roland Park and Brigit Molony of Catonsville; and
two sons, Gart Thomas Westerhout in Osugi, Japan, and Julian Westerhout in
Bloomington, IL, six grandchildren, and one sister, Marianne Thunnissen in The
Netherlands. Dr. Westerhout had lived for three decades in Adelphi before
moving to Baltimore and later to Catonsville.
in Gart's name may be made online or by post to: Educational Projects,
American Astronomical Society, 2000 Florida Ave., NW, Suite 400, Washington,
Detailed Bibliography for Gart Westerhout (supplied by William E.
Books or contributions to edited books
- Papers published in refereed journals
- "A Comparison of the Intensity Distribution of Radio-Frequency
Radiation with a Model of the Galactic System," (with J. H. Oort),
Bull. Astron. Inst. Neth., 11, 323, 1951.
- "The Rotation of the Inner Parts of the Galactic System," (with
K. K. Kwee and C. A. Muller), Bull. Astron. Inst. Neth., 12, 211,
- "Search for Polarization of the Crab Nebula and Cassiopeia A at
22 cm Wavelength," Bull. Astron. Inst. Neth., 12, 309,1956.
- "The Flux Densities of some Radio Sources at 400 Mc/s," (with C.
L. Seeger and H. C. van de Hulst), Bull. Astron. Inst. Neth., 13,
- "Continuous Radiation from the Direction of the Galactic Centre
at 22 cm," Bull. Astron. Inst. Neth., 13, 105, 1956.
- "A Catalogue of 21-cm Line Profiles," (with C. A. Muller), Bull.
Astron. Inst. Neth., 13, 151, 1957.
- "The Distribution of Atomic Hydrogen in the Outer Parts of the
Galactic System," Bull. Astron. Inst. Neth., 13, 201, 1957.
- "Observations of Occulations of the Crab Nebula by the Moon at
400 Mc/s," (with C. L. Seeger), Bull Astron. Inst. Neth., 13, 312,
- "Intensites Relatives des Quatre Principales Radiosources
Observees sur la Longueur d'Onde 22 cm; Note sur la Radiosource
Saggittarius A", Compt. Rend. Acad. Sci. Paris, 245, 35, 1957.
- "Observations of Discrete Sources, the Coma Cluster, the Moon,
and the Andromeda Nebula at a Wavelength of 75 cm.," (with C. L.
Seeger and R. G. Conway), Astrophys. J., 126, 585, 1957.
- "A Survey of the Continuous Radiation from the Galactic System
at a Frequency of 1390 Mc/s," Bull. Astron. Inst. Neth., 14, 215,
- "Note on the Density of Ionized Hydrogen in the Galactic
System," Bull. Astron. Inst. Neth., 14, 261, 1958.
- "The Galactic System as a Spiral Nebula," (with J. H. Oort and
F. J. Kerr), Monthly Notices Roy. Astron. Soc., 118, 379, 1958.
- "The New I.A.U. System of Galactic Coordinates," (with A.
Blaauw, C. S. Gum and J. L. Pawsey), Monthly Notices Roy. Astron.
Soc., 121, 123, 1960.
- "A 21-cm Determination of the Principal Plane of the Galaxy,"
(with C. S. Gum and F. J. Kerr), Monthly Notices Roy. Astron. Soc.,
121, 132, 1960.
- "Die Durchmusterung Der Milchstrasse Und Die
Quellendurchmusterung Bei 2.7 Gllz," (with W. Altenhoff, P. G.
Mezger and H. Wendker), Veroffentl. Sternwarte 59, Bonn, November
- "The Polarization of the Galactic 75-cm Radiation," (with C. L.
Seeger, W. N. Brouw and J. Tinbergen), Bull. Astron. Inst. Neth.,
16, 187, 1962.
- "The Structure of the Galaxy from Radio Observations," I.E.E.E.
Trans., AP-12, 954, 1964.
- "A Survey of the Continuous Radiation at 400 Mc/s," (with C. L.
Seeger, R. G. Conway and T. Hoekema), Bull. Astron. Inst. Neth., 18,
- "A Catalogue of Discrete Sources Observed at 400 Mc/s," (with M.
M. Davis and L. Gelato-Volders), Bull. Astron. Inst. Neth., 18, 42,
- "21-cm Line Emission in Open Clusters," (with W. E. Howard and
C. Gordon), Astrophys. J., 154, 103, 1968.
- "The Maryland – Green Bank Galactic 21-cm Line Survey" (with
H.-U.Wendlandt), Astron. Astrophys. Suppl. 49, 143, 1982.
- "Telescope Beam Characteristics and Temperature Scale of the
Maryland- Green Bank 21-cm Line Survey" (with G.L.Mader and
R.H.Harten), Astron. Astrophys. Suppl. 49, 137, 1982.
- "Astrometry and Precise Time", with G.M.R.Winkler, Oceanus 33,
- Instrumentation or techniques
- "Table for the Reduction of Velocities to the Local Standard of
Rest" (with D. A. MacRae), The Observatory, Lund, Sweden, 1956.
- "A Method for Accurately Compensating for the Effects of the
Error Beam of the NRAO 300-foot Radio Telescope at 21-cm
Wavelength," (with H.-U. Wendlandt and R. H. Harten), Astron. J.,
78, 569, 1973.
- "Hydrogen 21-cm Line Temperature scale", (with R.H.Harten and
F.J.Kerr), Astron.J., 80, 307, 1975
- Papers presented at scientific meetings
- "Kosmische Bronnen Van Radiostraling," (with H. C. van de
Hulst), Sterr. Coll. Ned. Astr. Club., 13, 1956.
- "A 21-cm Line Survey of the Outer Parts of the Galaxy," In IAU
Symp. 4, ch. 5, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1957.
- "Progress Report on 21-cm Research by the Netherlands
Foundation for Radio Astronomy and the Leiden Observatory," In IAU
Symp 4, ch. 4, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1957.
- "Galactic Radiation and its Physical Interpretation",
Introductory Report, Comm. V, URSI 13th General Assembly, London,
- "A Summary of our Knowledge of the Neutral Hydrogen in
Galaxies", In Problems of Extra-Galactic Research, McMillan and
Co., New York, 1962.
- "Current Radio Astronomical Research in the Netherlands",
Proc.I.R.E. Austr., 24, 214, 1963.
- "The Interpretation of Recent 21-cm Line Data in Terms of
Large-Scale Galactic Structure," IAU Symp. 20, Australia,
- "Observation and Interpretation of Optical and Radio
Polarization," IAU Symp. 20, Australia, 1963.
- "Three Years of Galactic Radio Astronomy," Proc. of URSI
General Assembly, Tokyo, 1963.
- "Brightness Temperatures Expected for a Radio Telescope with
High Resolving Power," In Proc. OECD Symp. on Large Antennae,
- "Site Requirements," In Proc. OECD Symp. on Large Antennae,
- "The Early History of Radio Astronomy", In International
Conference on Education in and History of Modern Astronomy, ed. R.
Berendzen, Ann. New York Acad. Sci., 198, 211, 1972.
- "Some Remarks on the Ideal Automated Observatory," In
NRAO/IEEE/URSI Symp. on the Collection and Analysis of
Astrophysical Data, ed. R. Burns, Astron. Astrophys. Suppl., 15,
- "The Influence of Acquisition Techniques on the Compilation of
Astronomical Data", in IAU Colloquium 35 on Data Compilation,
Strasbourg 1976, ed. Jaschek and Wilkins, Reidel, Dordrecht,
Astrophys. and Space Sc. Lib 64, 49, 1977
- "Future Development in U.S. Naval Observatory Time
Services",Proc. 9th Ann. PTTI meeting, NASA Tech. Mem. 78104, 1,
- "Radio Astrometry and Other Accurate Astrometry Plans at the
U.S. Naval Observatory", ESA Colloquium on European Satellite
Astrometry, Padua, Ed. C.Barbiery and P.L.Bernacca, Universita di
- "Space Astrometry – its Impact on Astronomy and Astrophysics",
Highlights of Astronomy Vol.5, 779, Ed. P.A.Wayman, Reidel
- "Early Dutch Radio Astronomy", URSI General Assembly Comm. J,
Washington 1981, Ed. W.T.Sullivan (not published).
- "The Pioneers of HI", in "Seeing through the Dust", eds.
A.R.Taylor, T.L.Landecker, A.G.Willis, Astron. Soc. Pacific
Conf.Ser. 276, 3, 2002
- "The Start of 21-cm line Research: the Early Dutch Years", in
"Seeing Through the Dust", eds. A.R.Taylor, T.L.Landecker,
A.G.Willis, Astron. Soc. Pacific Conf.Ser. 276, 3, 2002
- Contributed papers
- "75-cm and 22-cm Continuum Surveys," In IAU Symp. 9, ch. 80,
Stanford Univ. Press, 1959.
- "75-cm Galactic Background Polarization: Progress Report,"
(with W. N. Brouw, C. A. Muller and J. Tinbergen), Astron. J.,
67, 590, 1962.
- "Radio Studies of HII Regions and Galactic Structure," (with
M. Komesaroff), IAU Symp. 20, Australia, 1963.
- "Galactic 21-cm Iine Observations at Green Bank," Astron.
J., 69, 152, 1964.
- "Preliminary Observations of 21-cm Line Emission in Open
Clusters," (with W. E. Howard), Astron. J., 70, 688, 1965
- "The Maryland-Green Bank Galactic 21-cm Line Survey'", IAU
Symp. 31, Noordwijk, Netherlands, 173, Acad. Press, 1967.
- "A Motion Picture Film of Galactic 21-cm Line Emission," IAU
Symp. 38, paper 19, ed. G. Contopoulos and R. Becker), Reidel,
- "A High-Resolution Polarization Survey of the North Polar
Spur," (with D. Bechis), ln IAU Symp. 60, ed. F. J. Kerr and S.
C. Simonson, Springer Verlag, 1974.
- "Progress Report on the Maryland-Green Bank Galactic 21-cm
Line Survey, In IAU Symp. 60, ed. F. J. Kerr and S. C. Simonson,
Springer Verlag, 1974.
- "The U.S.Naval Observatory Parallax Program" (with
R.H.Harrington), Bull. d'Inf. Centre de Donnees Stell. 20, 24,
- "Data on Time and Polar Motion: Immediate Accessibility"
(with D.D.McCarthy), I.A.U. Colloq. 64, Automated Data Retrieval
in Astronomy, Strasbourg, Ed. C.Jaschek, Reidel Dordrecht,
- "U.S.Naval Observatory Parallaxes and the Fundamental
Reference Frame – their Interaction with Hipparcos" (with
J.A.Hughes), ESA Colloquium on Space Astrometry, Strasbourg
- "Concluding Remarks," in IAU Symposium 109, Astrometric
Techniques, H.K. Eichhorn and R. J. Leacock (eds), Reidel
Dordrecht, 799–803, 1986
- "Fricke's Influence on the World of Astronomy," Celestial
Mechanics 37, 345–348, 1985
- "The USNO/CALTECH Measuring Program" (with D. Monet), Bull
d'Information du CDS 37, 75–78, 1989
- "Concluding Remarks," Bull d'Information du CDS 37, 91–92,
- "Astrometry: New Vitality for an Ancient Science," Aerospace
America 27, No. 10, 34–37, 1989
- "The Flagstaff Measuring Machine" (with D. Monet), in IAU
Symposium 141, Inertial Coordinate System on the Sky, J.H.Lieske
and V.K.Abalakin, Eds., Kluwer Dordrecht 1990
- "Concluding Remarks", in IAU Symposium 141, Inertial
Coordinate System on the Sky, J.H.Lieske and V.K.Abalakin, Eds,
Kluwer Dordrecht, 1990
Technical reports and others
- "The Radio Galaxy," Sci. Am., 201, 45, 1959.
- "The Mapping of the Galaxy, in Tomorrow was Yesterday,
C.B.S., George Braziller, New York, 1964.
- "Distribution of Interstellar Hydrogen," (with F. J. Kerr), ch. 8,
in Stars and Stellar Systems, vol. 5, p. 166, Univ. of Chicago Press,
- "Radio Emission of the Galaxy," Comm. 40 report, IAU Trans. XII A,
Acad. Press, 1965.
- "Galactic Radio Astronomy," Comm. 40 reports on Astronomy, lAU
Trans. XIVA, 460, Reidel, Dordrecht – Holland, 1970.
- "Galactic Radio Emission in the 21-cm Line and the Continuum," In
Galactic Astronomy, ed. H. Y. Chiu and A. Muriel, pp. 147–190, Gordon
and Breach, 1971.
- "The Maryland-Green Bank Galactic 21-cm Line Survey," first
edition, University of Maryland, Department of Physics and Astronomy,
- "Maryland-Green Bank 21-cm Line Survey," second edition,
University of Maryland Astronomy Program, 1969.