Bernard Hauck

Bernard Hauck

Switzerland

1937-2018


Obituary:

Bernard Hauck (20 June 1937 - 8 March 2018)

Prof. Bernard Hauck studied mathematics at Geneva University, and first intended to teach at secondary school level. However, in 1960, near the end of his studies, he had the opportunity to perform an internship at Geneva Observatory which was led by Prof. Marcel Golay. He soon developed a taste for astronomy, and was given the opportunity to use the very first computer acquired by Geneva University, an IBM 1620 installed at the Observatory, apparently the only institute interested at the time by such an eerie machine. Thus, Bernard was probably the first scientist, both at the University and in the canton of Geneva, whose task was to domesticate a computer. He could then link the maths he had studied with astronomy. That was just a few years after the first Sputnik, at an epoch when the most advanced computers were way less powerful than our present and ubiquitous smartphones.

At the time, Marcel Golay and Frédy Rufener were developing the Geneva photometric system, to which Bernard contributed by focusing on the classification of late B-, A-, and F-type stars. He made his PhD thesis on this topic in 1967, and remained interested in that part of the HR diagram throughout his career. In particular, he studied the properties of Bp/Ap, Am ,  Boötis, and shell stars, first using photometry, later using spectroscopy. In addition, he created and maintained many catalogues of homogenised photometric data in practically all photometric systems, with the help of his coworkers, especially Monique and Jean-Claude Mermilliod, Eric Lindemann, and Bernard Nicolet. He also worked on the catalogue of [Fe/H] measurements initiated by Giusa Cayrel de Strobel and co-workers. He has maintained long-term scientific relationships with Carlos Jaschek who led the Centre de Données Stellaires (CDS) in Strasbourg, and with his wife Mercedes. He has also collaborated with authors such as Arne Slettebak, Michèle Gerbaldi, Vitautas Straizys, David L. Crawford, and Dominique Ballereau, to name a few.

The Swiss astronaut Claude Nicollier has been among his students, and it is under his supervision that Jean-Claude Mermilliod developed his database of open clusters, that has been used worldwide. The undersigned (PN) made his PhD thesis under Bernard’s supervision too and owes him the rare privilege of an early permanent position. Transmission of knowledge was one of Bernard’s key concerns. He contributed to the continuing training of high school teachers, encouraging them to include astronomy in their physics and natural science programmes. At Lausanne University, he has enduringly taken full charge of teaching, lecturing four astronomy courses to undergraduate students. He also co-organized and attended several of the well-known Saas Fee courses on behalf of the Swiss Society for Astrophysics and Astronomy.

In addition to his scientific career, Bernard excelled as an administrator. He strengthened the collaboration in astrophysics between Lausanne and Geneva universities, which crucially helped make Sauverny Observatory the largest astronomical centre in Switzerland. Among other tasks, he served as vice-rector of Lausanne University, chaired the Swiss Academy of Natural Sciences, Commissions 2 and 45 of the IAU, worked as IAU delegate to CODATA, and was Managing Editor of Astronomy & Astrophysics Supplement Series.

Bernard’s enduring, perseverant, and varied activity over more than four decades has borne fruit. Other people have taken over, the Institute of astronomy of Lausanne University was turned into the Laboratory of astrophysics of Ecole Polytechnique Féférale de Lausanne (EPFL) and is now busy with observational cosmology rather than stellar physics, but this evolution developed upon foundations and environment largely settled by Bernard. Conversely, Bernard’s main working place, Sauverny Observatory, had left a lasting footprint in his mind, even through Alzheimer’s disease he suffered in the last years. We are grateful for his example and legacy, and we express our deepest sympathy to his wife Myriam, his daughter Laurence and to the rest of the family.

Pierre North Thierry Courvoisier

Past affiliation(s) within the IAU

  • Past President of Commission 5 Documentation & Astronomical Data (1994-1997)
  • Past President of Commission 5 Documentation & Astronomical Data (1991-1994)
  • Past President of Commission 45 Stellar Classification (1976-1979)
  • Past Vice-President of Commission 5 Documentation & Astronomical Data (1988-1991)
  • Past Vice-President of Commission 5 Documentation & Astronomical Data (1985-1988)
  • Past Organizing Committee Member of Commission 5 Documentation & Astronomical Data (2000-2003)
  • Past Organizing Committee Member of Commission 5 Documentation & Astronomical Data (1997-2000)
  • Past Organizing Committee Member of Commission 5 Documentation & Astronomical Data (1982-1985)
  • Past Organizing Committee Member of Commission 25 Astronomical Photometry and Polarimetry (1982-1985)
  • Past Organizing Committee Member of Commission 5 Documentation & Astronomical Data (1979-1982)
  • Past Organizing Committee Member of Commission 25 Astronomical Photometry and Polarimetry (1979-1982)
  • Past Organizing Committee Member of Commission 45 Stellar Classification (1979-1982)
  • Past Organizing Committee Member of Commission 45 Stellar Classification (1973-1976)
  • Past Member of Division B Facilities, Technologies and Data Science (until 2018)
  • Past Member of Division G Stars and Stellar Physics (until 2018)
  • Past Member of Commission 5 Documentation & Astronomical Data (until 2015)
  • Past Member of Commission 25 Astronomical Photometry and Polarimetry (until 2015)
  • Past Member of Commission 45 Stellar Classification (until 2015)
  • Past Member of Division IV Stars (until 2012)
  • Past Member of Division IX Optical & Infrared Techniques (until 2012)
  • Past Member of Division XII Union-Wide Activities (until 2012)
  • Past Member of Special Nominating Committee (1991-1994)
  • Past Member of Resolutions Committee (1979-1982)

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