With all the recent publicity focused on Earthquakes, Tsunamis, Floods and other “Natural Disasters” afflicting our planet, coupled with increased knowledge of our universe … it is so worrying to note the number of leading astronomers who have been pronounced dead in the last months …

John Huchra died unexpectedly on October 8th 2010 at the age of 61.

Allan Sandage died on Saturday, 13th November 2010. Sandage, who worked with Edwin Hubble as an assistant at Mount Wilson Observatory, played an integral part in increasing our understanding of the scale of the Universe and determining the Hubble Constant, which describes the Universe’s expansion. The New York Times article announced that Carnegie Institution for Science reported the cause of death. Sandage, working at the Carnegie Observatories in California, continued his efforts to hone the Hubble Constant, in his latter years using the Hubble Space Telescope to observe extragalactic Type Ia supernovae as standard candles. Sandage is also credited with discovering the starburst activity and black hole jets in the galaxy M82, and published the comprehensive Hubble Atlas of Galaxies, in 1961. He continued to research and publish papers right up until his death, his last paper on RR Lyrae variable stars (another kind of standard candle) appearing in the Astrophysical Journal in June 2010. Sandage is considered a true giant of astronomy, and he published more than 500 scientific papers in total throughout his career.

Brian Marsden passed away on 18th November 2010 at the age of 73 following a prolonged illness.

For more on these noted astronomers, links to their Wikipedia listing are listed here:
John Huchra
Allan Sandage
Brian Marsden

Then, subsequently, an article published on Saturday, 20th November 2010 in thespec.com caught my attention. It drew attention to a team of Czech and Danish scientists who are seeking to solve a 400-year-old mystery, as to the death surrounding a 16th-century Danish astronomer, Tycho Brahe, whose celestial observations laid the groundwork for modern astronomy and who died in Prague in 1601, age 54 on October 24, 1601 after some days of illness.