The Bruce Medalists


  Photo c. 1935, courtesy Charles Lada
Bartholomeus Jan Bok
28 April 1906 1977 Bruce Medalist 5 August 1983

Bart Bok was born in the Netherlands and educated at the Universities of Leiden and Groningen, earning his doctorate at the latter under P.J. van Rhijn. He worked at Harvard University from 1929–57, and for the next nine years he directed the Mt. Stromlo Observatory in Australia. His last years were at the University of Arizona, where he directed the Steward Observatory from 1966 to 1970. In the early 1940s he helped set up the National Observatory of Mexico at Tonantzintla, and ten years later he performed a similar job for Harvard’s southern station in South Africa. In Australia he helped establish the Siding Spring Observatory. Working closely with his wife, Priscilla Fairfield Bok, he studied the structure and evolution of star clusters and the Galaxy, mapping the spiral arms of the Milky Way, especially the Carina region, and the Magellanic Clouds. Bok initiated radio astronomy at Harvard and promoted it elsewhere. His investigations of interstellar gas and dust led to studies of star formation, and he became known for his work on small dark nebulae now called Bok globules. He was an important teacher, writer, leader, and popularizer of astronomy.

Presentation of Bruce medal
Mercury 6, 4, 1 (1977).

Other awards
American Astronomical Society, Henry Norris Russell Lectureship, 1982
Association pour le Développement International de l’Observatoire de Nice, ADION medal, 1971
Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Dorothea Klumpke-Roberts Award, Mercury 11, 155 (1982).
National Radio Astronomy Observatory, Jansky Prize, 1972.

Some offices held
American Astronomical Society, President, 1972-74.

Biographical materials
Australian Science and Technology Heritage Centre, Bok, Bart Jan.
Graham, A., L. M. Wade and R. M. Price, Biographical Memoirs of the National Academy of Science 64, 72-97 (1994).
Levy, David H., The Man Who Sold the Milky Way: A Biography of Bart Bok (University of Arizona Press, Tucson, 1993).
Mercury 13, 2 (Mar/Apr 1984). [whole issue]
Liller, W., “Bart Bok in the Late and Middle 40’s,” Astron. Quarterly 6, 47-50 (1988).
Miller, F. D., “Bart Bok across a Half-Century,” Astron. Quarterly 6, 45-47 (1988).
White, Raymond E., “Bart J. Bok (1906-83) — A Personal Memoir from a ‘Grandson,’” Sky & Telescope 66, 303-06 (1983).

Gascoigne, S. C. B., Australian Physicist 20, 229 (1983).
Lada, C. J., QJRAS 28, 4, 539-42 (1987).
Astronomy 11, 64 (11/83).
Millman, Peter, JRASC 78, 3-7 (1984).
NY Times Biographical Service 14, 900-01 (8/83).
Heeschen, David S., Physics Today 36, 12, 73 (1983).
Whiteoak, J.B., “Student Memories of Bart Bok, an Astronomical Godfather,” Proc. Astron. Soc. Aust. 5, 608-610 (1984).
More obituaries

AIP Center for History of Physics Astronomical Society of Australia
From The Man Who Sold the Milky Way

Named after him
Minor Planet #1983 Bok (with Priscilla Fairfield Bok)
Bok globules
The Astronomical Society of Australia and the Australian Academy of Science, The Bok Prize
Steward Observatory, The Bok Telescope
American Astronomical Society and Astronomical Society of the Pacific, Priscilla and Bart Bok Awards

More references

The Bruce Medalists

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