Arthur B. C. Walker Jr.

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Arthur Bertram Cuthbert Walker Jr. (August 24, 1936 – April 29, 2001) was a solar physicist and a pioneer of EUV/XUV optics. He is most noted for having developed normal incidence multilayer XUV telescopes to photograph the solar corona. Two of his sounding rocket payloads, the Stanford/MSFC Rocket Spectroheliograph Experiment and the Multi-Spectral Solar Telescope Array, recorded the first full-disk, high-resolution images of the Sun in XUV with conventional geometries of normal incidence optics; this technology is now used in solar telescopes such as SOHO/EIT and TRACE, and in the fabrication of microchips via ultraviolet photolithography.

Early life[edit]

Walker was born in Cleveland, Ohio on August 24, 1936, to Arthur and Hilda Walker.[1] He was an only child.[2]


Walker began his scientific career in the U.S. Air Force, and also worked at the Space Physics Laboratory of the Aerospace Corporation. He was a professor at Stanford University from 1974 until his death in 2001. His first graduate student, Sally Ride, went on to become the first American woman in space. He was instrumental in building Congressional approval for the National Solar Observatory, and served on the Rogers Commission which investigated the explosion of the Challenger Space Shuttle. Throughout his academic career, Walker championed minority and underprivileged students within the university system, and was a leader in the community of black physicists.

Death and legacy[edit]

Walker died on April 29, 2001 at home on the Stanford campus, following a battle with cancer.[3]

In 2016, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific instituted an annual Arthur B.C. Walker II Award "established to honor an outstanding scientist whose research and educational efforts substantially contributes to astronomy and who has (1) demonstrated a substantial commitment to mentoring students from underrepresented groups pursuing degrees in astronomy and/or (2) been instrumental in creating or supporting innovative and successful STEM programs designed to support underrepresented students or their teachers"; included is a scholarship to a student of the recipient's choice.[4]