Aden B. Meinel

Aden B. Meinel

1972 OSA President and American astronomer Aden B. Meinel was born in Pasadena, California, US, in 1922. He received his A.B. from the University of California in 1947 and his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley, US in 1949. His dissertation is entitled A Spectrographic Study of the Night Sky and Aurora in the Near Infrared.

Over the years his research interests included astrophysics, spectroscopy, upper atmospheric physics, glass technology, optical design, instrumentation, space systems and solar energy. His enduring legacy to optics and astronomy are his contributions to large telescope development and the founding of the University of Arizona’s Optical Sciences Center. He began his career working on California Institute of Technology’s rocket weaponry program during World War II.

After research stints for the Army and Air Force Meinel focused on large telescope design. Although Meinel encountered great resistance for a telescope with a 500-inch mirror, he felt that his idea to develop a large multi-mirror design was worth pursuing. Along the way Meinel directed the development of Kitt Peak Observatory in Arizona and new telescopes at Steward Observatory. As a result of an agreement between the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and the University of Arizona and federal funding, Meinel’s vision to create the multi-mirror telescope (MMT) became a reality at Mount Hopkins, a peak just south of Tucson, Arizonia, US. The MMT design departed from convention with its six primary mirrors, computer control, and optical components.

Meinel retired in 1993 as a Distinguished Scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.  He later held the rank of professor emeritus of optical sciences at the University of Arizona Optical Sciences Center.

In 1952, he was awarded OSA's Adolph Lomb Medal and in 1980 received OSA's highest honor, the Frederic Ives Medal/Quinn Endowment for his contributions to thermal solar energy, analysis of the principles of coherently combined, independent telescopes, and the leadership he has given to several major optical and astronomical research centers.  Other awards included Among the awards for his research contributions: the American Astronomical Society’s Helen B. Warner Prize for Astronomy, OSA’s F, and the George Van Biesbroeck Prize.

He was elected as Vice President to OSA's Board of Directors in 1970 and went on to serve as President-Elect, President in 1972, and Past President in 1973.  During his presidency, OSA held it's first topical meeting, marking the start of a highly successful program.

Meinel died in 2011 at the age of 88.