In memoriam - Trevor C. Weekes (21-May-1940 - 26-May-2014) PDF Print


The VERITAS collaboration is deeply saddened by the loss of Dr. Trevor C. Weekes, who passed away on May 26th, 2014. Trevor was a world-renowned astrophysicist and a pioneering figure in the study of very high energy gamma rays.  His impact on the field of high-energy astrophysics over the course of a ~50-year career was enormous. He is widely regarded as the founder of a new form of astronomy, and opened a new window to the Universe.  Trevor's development of the atmospheric Cherenkov technique at the F.L. Whipple Observatory in southern Arizona led to the discovery of very high energy gamma rays coming from extreme astrophysical objects such as pulsars, massive black holes and the remains of supernova explosions.

Trevor first began working on the atmospheric Cherenkov technique as a graduate student in physics at University College, Dublin. The technique was later refined by Trevor and colleagues using a new 10-meter telescope at the Whipple Observatory in southern Arizona, constructed in 1968. The initial detection of tera-electron-volt (TeV) gamma rays from the Crab Nebula using this instrument came in 1989, and provided the first demonstration that the very high energy gamma-ray window is accessible from the ground, complementing observations at lower energies by space-based gamma-ray telescopes.

In the mid 1990's, Trevor initiated the development of a major new gamma-ray observatory, consisting of an array of four atmospheric Cherenkov telescopes, that would achieve a significant advancement in sensitivity and resolution over that of previous instruments. The construction of this observatory, the "Very Energetic Radiation Imaging Telescope Array System" (VERITAS), was completed in 2007. VERITAS has made many exciting discoveries and is currently among the most sensitive instruments in this rapidly growing new field.

Trevor is remembered as a valued friend and mentor to many students and scientists around the world. His endurance and persistence in the early years of gamma-ray astronomy were pivotal to the development of this new discipline, and continue to inspire scientists in the field today. Trevor took a deep personal interest in the welfare and careers of the many people he drew into very high energy astrophysics, and he went out of his way to welcome new scientists into both his collaborations and his home. Our thoughts and best wishes are with his family, and with all who have benefited from his wisdom, encouragement and wit.


Ní bheidh a leithéid arís ann.



Dr. Trevor C. Weekes was a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory for ~47 years. He received his Ph.D. from University College Dublin in 1966 and was awarded a Doctor of Science Degree by the National University of Ireland in 1978. He won the Rossi Prize of the High Energy Astrophysics Division of the American Astronomical Society in 1997, and was made an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy in 2002. He was awarded a honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Chicago in 2005 and won the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics (IUPAP) Yodh prize in 2007. In addition to many seminal scientific papers, Dr Weekes wrote two books: "High Energy Astrophysics", published in 1969 and "Very High Energy Gamma-ray Astronomy", published in 2003.  During his career, he maintained a close association with University College Dublin and assisted in at least 30 students getting their Ph.D.'s based on work under his direction at the Whipple Observatory in Arizona.

Last Updated on Thursday, 25 September 2014 13:32

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