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1919 -

Walter Stibbs - 92.5 K

Douglas Walter Noble (Walter) Stibbs was a research assistant at the Commonwealth Solar Observatory (CSO) when the Second World War began. He took part in some of the earliest optical munitions work undertaken at the CSO. He designed a folded optical system for a gunsight, which went into production later in the war. When Stibbs showed his designs and the complicated equations to R. v.d.R. Woolley, he recalls that Woolley 'took me to task for pronouncing aluminium as "aluminum" and took for granted the correctness of the mathematics and the numerical work that I had done!' (1)

In late 1941, Stibbs designed a Sun Compass which was used in desert warfare. Once this work was completed, he moved to the New England University College (now the University of New England) in Armidale, New South Wales, to 'take up a University Lectureship which involved teaching mathematics and theoretical physics on topics related to the war effort'.(2)

In July 1945 Stibbs returned to the CSO (now known as Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories), where he did photo-electric photometry, worked on theoretical astrophysics and wrote a book The Outer Layers of a Star, co-authored with Woolley and published by the Clarendon Press, Oxford.

Walter Stibbs #2 - 39.5 K

Stibbs obtained his D.Phil. at Oxford University in 1954, and was the Napier Professor of Astronomy at the University of St Andrews, Scotland, for thirty years (1959-1989). In 1990, he was appointed Emeritus Professor. Stibbs and his wife, Margaret, returned to Canberra in 1990. He became a Visiting Fellow at Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories and is closely associated with the Astrophysical Theory Centre in the School of Mathematical Sciences at the Australian National University.

(1) D.W.N. Stibbs, private correspondence with D. Sutherland, March 1997.
(2) D.W.N. Stibbs, private correspondence with D. Sutherland, March 1997.

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Bright SPARCS Biographical Entry

Published by the Australian Science Archives Project on ASAPWeb, 30 April 1997
Comments or corrections to: Bright Sparcs (bsparcs@asap.unimelb.edu.au)
Prepared by: Denise Sutherland and Elissa Tenkate
Updated by: Joanne Evans
Date modified: 4 January 1998

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