Last week astronomers and physicists at the University were saddened to farewell Graeme Kershaw, who served as a technician in the mechanical workshop of the Department of Physics and Astronomy for 51 years.
Professor John Hearnshaw recalls that Graeme specialised in astronomical instrumentation, and during his career made a major contribution to the instruments at Mt John Observatory.
“I first came into contact with Graeme in 1975 when he was working on the Cassegrain échelle spectrograph, based on drawings from the Smithsonian Institution. This instrument was completed in 1977 and was the first of its kind in the southern hemisphere.
The biggest projects Graeme worked on were the McLellan 1-metre telescope over five years (1981-86) and the Hercules spectrograph over four years (1997-2001). The latter was the world’s first vacuum high resolution échelle spectrograph for stellar spectroscopy.
I count at least eight big projects we did together, me throwing ideas to Graeme about what I wanted, he putting them into practice with amazingly ingenious mechanical and optical designs for astronomical instruments at Mt John. His work was characterized by great attention to detail, superb craftsmanship and innovative designs.
After Graeme retired in 2016, he worked on the restoration of the historic Townsend telescope in the Arts centre. This is a 6-inch refractor made in England in 1864, and used by UC for public viewing. It was recovered from the rubble of the Arts Centre observatory tower after the February 2011 earthquake. The restoration project was being undertaken using a benefaction from UC alumnus Dr David Teece in California. Sadly the work was not quite complete when Graeme passed away after a short illness. ”