Drawing of Observatory

HANK ADAMS, AMATEUR ASTRONOMER
By Mike Luciuk

I've known Hank for over 25 years. This is a personal account of my recollections of Hank and Mary. He was a good friend. We served together on the 10-inch as senior observers for many of those years. We went to Hawaii in 1991 for the total solar eclipse, and I was a guest at his Vermont sky lodge in 1994 for the annular solar eclipse. The two of us, along with many meteor devotees, spent many all-night sessions at Jenny Jump imaging meteor trails. Hank was the proud owner of his "Bright Sky Observatory" at his home in West Orange. In spite of a limited horizon, and the glow from the surrounding light pollution, he gamely and successfully imaged various objects with his 11-inch telescope and his CCD camera. He was proud of being able to reach as deep as the +19th magnitude with long exposure times.

Hank was a WW2 veteran. I always enjoyed his reminiscences of his military adventures. He was captured by the Germans late in the war, and almost starved to death before being rescued. He started writing a biographical account of his war experiences, and, although I encouraged him to complete it, it was unfinished when he died.

Hank had an electrical engineering background, and was quite handy with mechanical and electrical issues. He was an expert and an AAI pioneer in the use of CCDs for astronomical imaging. He was responsible for getting the ST6 CCD camera for the 24-inch at AAI in the 1990s. He and several other AAI members were successful in imaging the Shoemaker-Levy comet crashes on Jupiter in 1994. Hank gave a number of Friday night lectures on CCDs, and led several tutorials in the west dome on utilizing the ST6 camera. He was also active in the maintenance of AAI's two telescopes, devoting much weekend time to that effort.

Even as his ability to walk became a problem, Hank would invariable show up at Sperry on Friday evenings with his wife Mary. She would sit behind the counter with Anita, and Hank would find a chair where he could listen to the speaker of the night. He also gave a number of talks on subjects he had an interest in, his last being on the works of Galileo. Hank had a sharp sense of humor, which sometimes became apparent when he would pose a pertinent question to a Friday night speaker. Hank served in a number of important positions in AAI - president, research chairman, trustee, and nominating committee chairman. He loved the club.

Mary and Hank had a close loving relationship. Her health was apparently better than his, so it was a shock to him when she died in May of this year. It broke his heart. After her death, he reminisced about how they met, and how he missed her. They are together now.

Mike Luciuk
July 21, 2009

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