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Sol Genatt was for thirty years an astronomer for several federal agencies. Born in New York City, he was an aerial navigator during World War II for the US Army Air Corps. He obtained a B.A. in Astronomy at Cornell University in 1947 and began work in the Nautical Almanac Office of the US Naval Observatory. Later he worked in the time Service Division field station in Richmond, Florida, observing with a photographic zenith tube. During the 1950s he also worked in the Research and Analysis Branch of the US Army Map Service under John A. O'Keefe. At first lunar occultations of stars were observed for improved terrestrial coordinates, but once artificial satellites became a reality, Genatt became involved in developing equipment and planning programs to track satellites for geodetic purposes.
From 1960 to 1976 Genatt was Station Manager at the Goddard Optical Research Facility, a part of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Under his direction this facility was involved with a variety of projects on laser ranging and laser tracking of satellites. In 1964 this included using a 20-inch telescope to detect laser pulses reflected from corner cubes mounted on the Beacon series of satellites. In the early 1970s he assisted in the creation of two satellite-tracking stations in California on either side of the San Andreas Fault.
This obituary in based solely on a curriculum vitae.
Obituary written by: Woodruff T. Sullivan, III (University of Washington)
BAAS Citation: BAAS, 1993, 25, 1496
SAO/NASA ADS Bibcode: 1993BAAS...25.1496S