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Rolf-Peter Kudritzki

Institute for Astronomy

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From the Director

Dear Friends of Hawaii Astronomy,

John T. Jefferies, the founding director of the Institute for Astronomy, recently visited the IfA to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversaries of the United Kingdom Infrared Telescope and the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility in Hilo, and to give an inspiring colloquium talk at IfA Manoa. John's outstanding accomplishments have made him famous throughout the astronomy world. Starting with almost nothing, he created one of the world's leading astronomy institutes in Hawaii, and he developed the most powerful and successful modern observatory. Furthermore, as an outstanding scientist, he wrote many important scientific articles and books.

It was the latter that brought me into astronomy. I was a young physics student at Berlin University, and I was looking for a thesis topic in theoretical physics. I had never had a class in astronomy and had no knowledge of the subject. At odds with most of the physics professors, I asked the only astronomy professor in the department—a new recruit just back from the United States—whether it would be a possible to write an interesting theoretical astrophysics thesis with him as my advisor.

He gave me a book, Spectral Line Formation, by John T. Jefferies. It was the first astronomy book I ever read. Its explanation of the complex thermodynamics and quantum mechanics necessary to understand the spectra of stars fascinated me. Even more fascinating was where the author worked: Hawaii! This told me that, as an astronomer, I could combine the world of science with an exciting life. Thus, I jumped into astronomy, and my life took a very interesting turn.

Thirty-six years later, as the director of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Hawaii, I had the honor and privilege to meet the man who made it all happen—the IfA, Mauna Kea Observatories, and my career in astronomy. It was a most moving moment.

Aloha and happy holidays,

Rolf-Peter Kudritzki
Director, Institute for Astronomy

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Merging Spiral Galaxies Create Ellipticals
Owen Gingerich To Deliver Next Frontiers Lecture
NASA IRTF, UKIRT Celebrate 25 Years of Discovery
Founding Director John T. Jefferies Recounts Institute for Astronomy Beginnings

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