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Harvard-Smithsonian Astronomer Krucz Honored For His Software Contributions

Robert Krucz, an astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., has received the University of Arizona's 1992 George Van Biesbroeck Award. The annual award recognizes an astronomer whose contributions to the field have been unselfish and unrecognized. Krucz was honored for developing and distributing--without compensation--computer programs useful to astronomers. For 25 years, Krucz has been developing computer programs for studying the atmosphere and c

Rebecca Andrews
Robert Krucz, an astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Mass., has received the University of Arizona's 1992 George Van Biesbroeck Award. The annual award recognizes an astronomer whose contributions to the field have been unselfish and unrecognized. Krucz was honored for developing and distributing--without compensation--computer programs useful to astronomers.

For 25 years, Krucz has been developing computer programs for studying the atmosphere and composition of stars. His most widely used programs are ATLAS, for modeling characteristics of stellar atmospheres, and WIDTH, for computing the individual lines in a stellar spectrum, information that is then used to determine the relative amounts of various elements in the star.

Krucz's first attempt at modeling stellar atmospheres took place in 1965, when he was a senior at Harvard University. He tried to compute the composition and atmospheric opacity of a star, but "it didn't work very well," he recalls. "For the last...

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