The Bruce Medalists


  Photo c. 1961, courtesy University of Utrecht
Marcel Gilles Jozef Minnaert
12 February 1893 1951 Bruce Medalist 26 October 1970

Marcel Minnaert studied biology at the University of Ghent in his native Belgium and physics at the University of Leiden in the Netherlands. After World War I he joined the solar physics group at the University of Utrecht in the Netherlands. From 1937 to 1963 he was director of the Utrecht Observatory. He and his students led in the development of detailed quantitative analysis of the solar spectrum, culminating in the publication of the famous “Utrecht Atlas” in 1940. Their development of the curve of growth method made it possible for astronomers to obtain precise information about stellar atmospheres. He investigated light scattering from the surface of the moon and participated in the naming of many lunar features. Imprisoned during World War II, he taught astronomy and physics to his fellow prisoners. After the war he was active in international organizations. A revered teacher, Minnaert published a collection of poems related to astronomy and popular books, including the classic Nature Of Light And Colour in the Open Air, as well as textbooks.

Presentation of Bruce medal
Alter, Dinsmore, PASP 63, 265-68 (1951).

Other awards
Association pour le Développement International de l’Observatoire de Nice, ADION medal, 1964
Royal Astronomical Society, Gold medal, 1947, presented by W.M.H. Greaves, MNRAS 107, 243-45 (1947).

Biographical materials
de Jager, C., Dictionary of Scientific Biography 9, 414-16.
Molenaar, Leo, “Marcel Minnaert bij zijn honderdste geboortejaar,” Zenit 20, 414-418 (1993) [in Dutch].
Molenaar, Leo, Minnaert: Een Leven Lang Leraar (1998) [in Dutch].
Molenaar, Leo, De rok van het universum: Marcel Minnaert, astrofysicus 1893-1970 (Balans, Amsterdam, 2003) [in Dutch].
Molenaar, Leo, Marcel Minnaert, astrofysicus 1893-1970 [in Dutch]
Müller, Edith A., “Dedication to Marcel Gilles Jozef Minnaert,” in Education in and History of Modern Astronomy, Annals of the NY Acad. of Sci. 198, 5-7 (1972) ed. by R. Berendzen.
Pecker, J.-C., in Schmidt, Marian, ed., Hommes de Science, (Hermann, Paris, 1990) [in French].
Unsöld, Albrecht, Sterne und Menschen (Springer-Verlag, 1972), pp. 61-65 [in German].
van Roode, Steven M., Biographical Encyclopedia of Astronomers (Springer, NY, 2007), pp. 787-88.

Ashbrook, J., Sky & Telescope 40, 6, 344 (1970).
l’Astronomie 843, 525 (1970).
de Jager, C., Astrophys. Space Sci. 10, 183-185 (1971).
de Jager, C., QJRAS 12, 338-341 (1971).
Houtgast, J., Orion Schaffhausen 28 Jahrgang, p. 195 (1970).
Nature 229, 214 (1971).
Pecker, Jean-Claude, Icarus 15, 147-148 (1971).
Pecker, Jean-Claude, Solar Physics 17, 1-3 (1971).
Unsöld, A., Solar Physics 17, 3-5 (1971).
More obituaries

Rob Rutten’s Astronomy Shots (1967, 1968)
Five portraits from Leo Molenaar’s biography

Named after him
The Minnaert correction (or Minnaert albedo)
Lunar crater Minnaert
Minor planet #1670 Minnaert
Minnaert Building at the University of Utrecht.

More references

The Bruce Medalists

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