Image Courtesy: Google Doodle
Wilbur Norman Christiansen (9 August 1913 – 26 April 2007) was an eminent Australian radio astronomer and electrical engineer, known for his pioneering contributions to the field of radio astronomy.
Wilbur Norman Christiansen, known as “Chris” in his adult life, was born on 9 August 1913 in Elsternwick, Victoria. His father, Wilhelm Christiansen, served as a minister in the Congregational Church, while his mother, Ilma Clarice Christiansen (née Jones), was a music teacher. He married Elsie Mary Hill in 1938 at Chatswood, New South Wales.
From 1921 to 1930, Chris attended Caulfield Grammar School before enrolling at the University of Melbourne in 1931 to study Science. During his time at the university, he was associated as a non-resident student with Trinity College and was awarded an Exhibition in 1932. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc.) in 1934, followed by a Master of Science (M.Sc.) in 1935, where he won the prestigious Professor Kernot Research Scholarship in Natural Philosophy. Later, in 1953, he obtained his Doctor of Science (D.Sc.) degree from the University of Melbourne. Alongside Ronald Drayton Brown, he received the Syme Prize Medal for 1959.
Chris Christiansen’s significant contributions to radio astronomy include the construction of the first grating array for scanning the sun at the radio astronomy field station in Potts Hill, New South Wales. His work in the field earned him recognition, and a later array, the Chris Cross Telescope, located in Badgerys Creek, New South Wales, was named in his honor. He served as the chairman of the electrical engineering department at the University of Sydney for an extended period.
In recognition of his accomplishments and achievements, he was appointed as an honorary fellow of the Institution of Engineers Australia in 1981. His pioneering work in radio astronomy and electrical engineering has left a lasting impact on the scientific community in Australia and beyond.
On 9 August 2013 a Google Doodle was created to celebrate Wilbur Norman Christiansen’s 107th Birthday.