Professor Antony Hewish, astronomer who jointly won the Nobel Prize for the discovery of pulsars – obituary

In his early research, Hewish became the first scientist to use radio star scintillation to measure the height and dimensions of plasma clouds, collections of charged particles in the ionosphere (a layer of the upper atmosphere ). In the mid-1960s, he used a similar technique to measure solar wind (the flow of charged particles extending from the sun). He also patented a space navigation system using three pulsars as reference points to provide coordinates in outer space accurate to a few hundred kilometers.

Hewish taught physics at Cambridge until 1969, when he was appointed lecturer and, in 1971, professor of radio astronomy. Following Ryle’s disease in 1977, he assumed leadership of the Cambridge Radio Astronomy Group and headed the Mullard Radio Astronomical Observatory from 1982 to 1988.

He developed an association with the Royal Institution in London when it was headed by Sir Lawrence Bragg, giving one of the Christmas lectures and several Friday night speeches. He appreciated the challenge of presenting complex ideas in an easily understandable way and felt that scientists have a duty to share the enthusiasm of their work with the public.

Among many honors and awards, Hewish was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1968. In his spare time he enjoyed music, gardening and sailing.

Antony Hewish married Marjorie Richards in 1950. They had a son and a daughter who died before him.

Antony Hewish, born May 11, 1924, September 13, 2021

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