Ian Glass

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Ian Stewart Glass (born 5 September 1939 in Dublin, Ireland) is an infrared astronomer and scientific historian living in Cape Town, South Africa.


Glass was educated at Trinity College Dublin where he was a Foundation Scholar.[1] He obtained his B.A. with first class honours in 1961 and was awarded the Hackett Prize for first place in Natural Sciences. He received his PhD in Physics[2] from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1968 for work in x-ray astronomy under George W. Clark.

Infrared astronomy[edit]

Since 1970 he has worked in infrared astronomy and instrumentation[3] and he has written the standard textbook on the subject.[4] He worked before 1975 at the Royal Greenwich Observatory and thereafter at the South African Astronomical Observatory.[5]

He is the author or co-author of over 220 scientific papers in journals and conference proceedings and has been cited over 8000 times with h-index=52.[6]

With Tom Lloyd Evans, he discovered the period-luminosity relation followed by Mira variable stars.[7] This result has subsequently been refined.[8][9] Later observations of the Miras in the SgrI Baade's Window field led to an independent estimate of the distance to the Galactic Centre.[10]

In 1973 Feast and Glass[11] discovered the infrared/optical counterpart of the symbiotic binary x-ray source GX1+4. In 1978 Glass located the obscured x-ray source Cir X-1 in the infrared and found that it flared in a cyclic manner associated with its 16.6-day x-ray period.[12]

The role of hot dust in the emission from a Seyfert galaxy (Fairall 9) was demonstrated observationally for the first time by Clavel, Wamsteker and Glass in 1989;[13] these observations were modelled theoretically by Barvainis[14] and provided a strong confirmation of the reverberation model[15] for active galactic nuclei. The photometry was part of a multi-year monitoring programme[16] that showed the ubiquity of infrared variability in these objects.

Work with the ISO satellite and MACHO data showed that all late-type M giant stars exhibit mass-loss and are variable.[17]

The most detailed image of the Galactic Centre (inner Bulge) region before the advent of array detectors was obtained with Catchpole and Whitelock in 1987,[18] showing up extinction patterns that correlated with the intervening molecular clouds.

History of astronomy[edit]

In addition to papers on a number of historical themes, Glass has written several books (see below):

"Victorian Telescope Makers" was inspired by the extensive correspondence between Sir David Gill and the Irish telescope maker Sir Howard Grubb that survives at the South African Astronomical Observatory.

"Revolutionaries of the Cosmos" deals with eight figures (Galileo, Newton, Herschel, Huggins, Hale, Shapley, Eddington and Hubble) who revolutionised physical astronomy through the introduction of radical new ideas and techniques.

"Nicolas-Louis de La Caille" concerns the leading observational astronomer of the mid-eighteenth century who was also the first important scientist to visit what is now South Africa (1751–53). Inter alia, he conducted the first telescope sky survey, was a devotee of Newtonian dynamics and a pioneer of the Lunar method of navigation.

Honours, etc[edit]

Glass received the Gill Medal[3] of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa in 1999 for his work in the infrared and their McIntyre Award in 2003 for his book on the Grubb Telescope Company (see below).

He is a member of the Royal Society of South Africa, and the International Astronomical Union. He has twice been elected President of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa and in 2016 was made an honorary member thereof. In 1984–89 he was editor of "Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa".

He has been a Visiting Professor at the National Observatory of Japan (Nobeyama and Tokyo), an Associate of the European Southern Observatory and has worked for various periods at the California Institute of Technology, the University of Arizona, the Institut d'Astrophysique (Paris), the Observatoire de Besançon, the Institute of Astronomy, Cambridge (UK) and the Physical research Laboratory, Ahmedabad (India). He has also been an Adjunct Professor at James Cook University, Queensland, Australia.



  1. ^ http://"www.tcdlife.ie/scholars/scholar/about-list.php"
  2. ^ http://library.mit.edu/item/000599351
  3. ^ a b Lloyd Evans, T. (1999). "Gill Medal awarded to Ian Stewart Glass". Monthly Notes of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa. 58: 101–2. 
  4. ^ Glass, I.S. (1999). Handbook of Infrared Astronomy. Cambridge University press. ISBN 0-521-63311-7. 
  5. ^ "http://www.saao.ac.za/science/staff-research/ian-glass"
  6. ^ "http://scholar.google.co.za/citations?user=fZ4uI20AAAAJ&hl=en"
  7. ^ Glass, I.S.; Lloyd Evans, T. (1981). "A period-luminosity relation for Mira variables in the Large Magellanic Cloud". Nature. Macmillan. 291: 303–4. Bibcode:1981Natur.291..303G. doi:10.1038/291303a0. 
  8. ^ Glass, I.S.; Catchpole, R.M.; Feast, M.W.; Whitelock, P.A.; Reid, I.N. (1987). Kwok, S.; Pottasch, S.R., eds. The period-luminosity relationship for Mira-like variables in the LMC. Late stages of stellar evolution, Calgary, Canada, 2–5 June 1986. Dordrecht, Netherlands: D. Reidel Publishing Co. pp. 51–4. 
  9. ^ Feast, M.W.; Glass, I.S.; Whitelock, P.A.; Catchpole, R.M. (1989). "A period-luminosity-colour relation for Mira variables". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 241: 375–92. doi:10.1093/mnras/241.3.375. 
  10. ^ Glas, I.S.; Whitelock, P.A.; Catchpole, R.M.; Feast, M.W. (1995). "Long-period variables in the SGR I field of the Galactic Bulge". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 273: 383–400. doi:10.1093/mnras/273.2.383. 
  11. ^ Glass, I.S.; Feast, M.W. (1973). "Peculiar object near GX2+5". Nature Physical Science. 245: 39–40. Bibcode:1973NPhS..245...39G. doi:10.1038/physci245039b0. 
  12. ^ Glass, I.S. (1978). "Variations of Circinus X-1 in the infrared". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 183: 335–340. Bibcode:1978MNRAS.183..335G. doi:10.1093/mnras/183.3.335. 
  13. ^ Clavel, J.; Wamsteker, W.; Glass, I.S. (1989). "Hot dust on the outskirts of the broad-line region in Fairall 9". Astrophysical Journal. University of Chicago Press. 337: 236–250. Bibcode:1989ApJ...337..236C. doi:10.1086/167100. 
  14. ^ Barvainis, R. (1992). "Dust reverberations: a model for the infrared variations of Fairall 9". Astrophysical Journal. University of Chicago Press. 400: 502–509. Bibcode:1992ApJ...400..502B. doi:10.1086/172012. 
  15. ^ Peterson, B.M. (1993). "Reverberation mapping of active galactic nuclei". Publications of the Astronomical Society of the Pacific. 105: 247–268. Bibcode:1993PASP..105..247P. doi:10.1086/133140. 
  16. ^ Glass, I.S. (2004). "Long-term infrared photometry of Seyferts". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 350: 1048–1066. Bibcode:2004MNRAS.350.1049G. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2966.2004.07712.x. 
  17. ^ Glass, I.S.; Alves, D.R. (2000). Lemke, D.; Stickel, M.; Wilke, K., eds. ISOGAL Survey of Baade's Windows. ISO Surveys of a Dusty Universe, Ringberg, 1999. Heidelberg: Springer. pp. 363–70. ISBN 3-540-67479-9. 
  18. ^ Glass, I.S.; Catchpole, R.M.; Whitelock, P.A. (1987). "J, H and K maps of the Galactic centre region.II – Qualitative aspects of the interstellar absorption". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 227: 373–79. Bibcode:1987MNRAS.227..373G. doi:10.1093/mnras/227.2.373.