Bryan Anderson

It is with great sadness that we have heard this past week of the passing of Bryan Anderson at the age of 80.

Bryan Anderson, pictured with his wife Angela in 2019.

Bryan was one of the pioneers of long baseline radio interferometry, working with Henry Palmer, Barrie Rowson and others to make the first measurements on 100km baselines in the early 1960s. These experiments revealed a significant number of compact radio sources, which would later be known as quasars. The early work at Jodrell Bank was an important part of the discovery of quasars.

With his student Wilf Donaldson, Bryan set up the first transportable dish as a long baseline radio linked interferometer in conjunction with the MkI (Lovell) Telescope at Jodrell Bank.  He used one of the dishes, built by J S Hey, at Defford to make interferometers with baselines of 1 and then 2 million wavelengths, at a distance of 127km. These experiments inspired the new technique of VLBI using independent tape recording to make interferometers on continental scales. Bryan was working on this at Jodrell Bank from 1964, initially as part of a collaboration with the USSR, but colleagues in Canada and the US were the first to obtain successful VLBI results in 1967. Bryan’s system was successfully used in 1969 in experiments between Jodrell Bank and Arecibo (Puerto Rico).

Bryan was instrumental in the creation of MERLIN, which developed from these early experiments. He designed two generations of its correlator, as well as key parts of the MkIV European VLBI Network correlator at JIVE and was the technical architect for the design of e-MERLIN.

Bryan had a deep understanding of every aspect of how interferometry works and combined with his technical expertise in designing and implementing the key digital electronics on which it relies, he was widely regarded as one of the gurus of the subject around the world.

We will all remember Bryan for his good humour; his sharp mathematical insights in all aspects of radio astronomy, his expertise in digital electronics and his ability to keep at the forefront of developments in signal processing. We all owe him a great deal and he will be greatly missed.

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