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Tributes paid following death of ‘brilliant’ University of Cambridge astronomer Dr Richard Hills



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Dr Richard Hills, a world-leading expert on millimetre and submillimetre astronomy, has died at the age of 76.

He was a research scientist at the Max Planck Institute in Bonn from 1972-74, before returning to the University of Cambridge, where he had studied at Queens’ College, to work on the development of telescopes and instrumentation for astronomy at wavelengths of around one millimetre. This is the relatively unexplored spectral region lying between radio waves and infrared.

Prof Richard Hills, University of Cambridge. Picture: Royal Society
Prof Richard Hills, University of Cambridge. Picture: Royal Society

In a statement, the Department of Physics at Cambridge said: “Dr Richard Hills had a remarkable career as a world leading expert on millimetre and submillimetre astronomy, both astronomically and technically.

“His technical expertise was unparalleled and he performed outstandingly in his roles as project scientist for the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope (JCMT) in Hawaii and then project scientist in Chile for the Atacama Large Millimetre Array (ALMA) on the high altitude Atacama Desert. Both projects have been outstanding successes.”

Prof Richard Hills. Picture courtesy of University of Cambridge
Prof Richard Hills. Picture courtesy of University of Cambridge

A fellow of St Edmund’s College, Cambridge, he was director of studies for natural sciences there from 1990 to 2007, as well as holding the position of professor of radio astronomy at the University of Cambridge for the same period. He was deputy head of the Department of Physics at the University of Cambridge between 1999 and 2003, and emeritus professor of radio astronomy until his death on Sunday (June 5).

He was elected as a fellow of the Royal Society in 2014.

“Richard will be sorely missed by the department as a brilliant, helpful and friendly colleague. We pass on our deepest condolences to his family during this sad time,” added the Department of Physics.



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