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University of Michigan pioneer astronomer Fred Haddock


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University of Michigan pioneer astronomer Fred Haddock dies; he designed radio telescope at Peach Mountain

by Jo Mathis | The Ann Arbor News

Tuesday March 03, 2009, 6:48 AM

Fred Haddock described himself in modest terms.

"I'm just a guy interested in most things," he told an Ann Arbor News reporter in 2000.

But Haddock, a University of Michigan professor emeritus of astronomy, was a pioneer in radio astronomy (he designed U-M's radio telescope at Peach Mountain near Dexter) and an early rocket scientist. He also contributed to the Allies' victory in the Pacific in World War II.

File photo | Ann Arbor News

Fred Haddock is shown in a 2000 photo with a model of the radio telescope he helped design at the University of Michigan's Peach Mountain near Dexter.

Haddock died of lung cancer Feb. 20 at his Ann Arbor home. He was 89.

While working at the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, D.C., Haddock designed and developed the first submarine periscope radar antenna used extensively in the Pacific to sink Japanese supply and fuel ships.

When the war ended, he turned to astronomy and detected radio emissions for the Orion and other nebulae.

In 1956, Haddock accepted a position at U-M as the founder and director of the Radio Astronomy Observatory at Peach Mountain, off of North Territorial Road, northwest of Dexter.

"He was the person who established radio astronomy in the observatory at Michigan, and was one of the leaders in the field in the '40s and '50s," said U-M Astronomy Professor Hugh Aller, who was a student of Haddock's before joining the faculty.

The 85-foot radio telescope Haddock designed at Peach Mountain was used to make the first radio detection of Mercury, and the first measurement of Saturn. It is still in use today.

Haddock also taught classes in electrical engineering, and - as a rocket scientist - served on numerous NASA and Goddard Space Flight Center committees and panels.

His extensive resume also includes publishing dozens of books and articles and numerous memberships and professional affiliations.

"He was a very impressive guy; a big guy with a booming bass voice, and a quick mind," said Charles R. Cowley, U-M astronomy professor emeritus. He was extremely knowledgeable in all sorts of different fields; intellectually curious."

He was a member of the Huron Valley Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Haddock is survived by his wife, Deborah Fredericks, sons Thomas and Richard, and four grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held April 5 at 11 a.m. at the Michigan League on the U-M campus, 911 N. University.

Jo Mathis can be reached at jmathis@annarbornews.com or 734-994-6849.

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