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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Jacquelyn Savani (609) 258-5729
Date: April 11, 1997
Martin Schwarzschild Dies
PRINCETON, N.J.--Martin Schwarzschild, Eugene Higgins Professor of
Astronomy, Emeritus, at Princeton University, died April 10 at St.
Mary Medical Center in Langhorne, Pa., after a heart attack.
Schwarzschild was 84 years old.
Schwarzschild made seminal contributions to the study of stellar
structure and stellar evolution. His work explained the existence of
giant stars, with extended hydrogen envelopes around helium cores,
and uncovered important new phenomena which occur during a stellar
lifetime, including shell flashes and other instabilities. His 1958
book Structure and Evolution of the Stars (Princeton
University Press) has been a standard text for a generation of
students entering this field.
Working with John von Neumann in Princeton in the late 1940s,
Schwarzschild was one of the first to capitalize on the powers of
electronic digital computers for scientific research. Schwarzschild
also collaborated with his Princeton University astrophysics
colleague, Lyman Spitzer, on the design of a fusion reactor that
mimics the sun.
Schwarzschild, like Spitzer, also pioneered in the use of space
telescopes for precise imagery of the Sun, planets and stellar
systems. His Stratoscope I, a 12-inch diameter solar telescope lifted
to 80,000 feet altitude by balloon, was the first instrument to
obtain sharp photographs above most of the earth's fluctuating
atmosphere, and gave fascinating new information on dynamical
processes in the sun's atmosphere. For this work Schwarzschild won
the Newcomb-Cleveland Prize of the American Association for the
Advancement of Science in 1957. His subsequent Stratoscope II, with a
mirror 36 inches in diameter, gave similar first-of-a-kind results of
the outer planets and galactic nuclei.
Schwarzschild served on various national science advisory committees
on space research from 1959 to 1969.
He was born May 31, 1912, in Potsdam, Germany. His father Karl
Schwarzschild was a celebrated astrophysicist. Martin Schwarzschild
received his PhD from the University of Goettingen in 1935 and was a
research fellow at Oslo University until 1937 when he became a
research fellow at the Harvard College Observatory. From 1940 to 1947
he was a lecturer and assistant professor at Columbia.
Enlisting in the U.S. Army as a private, Schwarzschild was promoted
to sergeant and (recommended for OCS) became a first lieutenant. A
specialist on bombing surveys, he was awarded the Legion of Merit and
the Bronze Star.
Schwarzschild joined the Princeton faculty as professor in 1947. He
came, he said, "for the express purposes of working in association
with Lyman Spitzer." (Spitzer, who also came to Princeton 50 years
ago this spring, died March 31). Schwarzschild was appointed to the
Eugene Higgins Chair in 1950. In 1955 he was awarded a Guggenheim
Fellowship to carry out studies of stellar evolution.
He received the Henry Draper Medal from the National Academy of
Sciences, the Eddington Medal and the Gold Medal from the Royal
Astronomical Society of England, the Bruce Medal of the Astronomical
Society of the Pacific, the Silver Medal of the Rittenhouse
Astronomical Society, the Dannie Heineman Prize of Die Akademie der
Wissenschaften zu Goettingen, Prix Janssen from the Societe
Astronomique de France, the Medal of the Association pour le
Developpement International de l'Observatoire de Nice, and the Balzan
He held honorary degrees from Swarthmore College, Columbia and
Princeton, where he was known among his students as a great
A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and of the
National Academy of Sciences, he served as president of the American
Astronomical Society from 1970 to 1972 and the vice president of the
International Astronomical Union from 1964 to 1970. A foreign
associate of the Royal Astronomical Society, he was a member of the
Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, the Norwegian Academy of
Sciences and Letters, the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and
Letters, and the American Philosophical Society.
He is survived by his wife Barbara Cherry of Newtown, Pa., and a
sister Agathe Thornton of Dunedin, New Zealand.
Plans are being made for a memorial service at Princeton University.
Contributions may be made to the National Planned Parenthood
Association or to the Pennswood Village Endowment Fund, 1382
Newtown-Langhorne Rd., Newtown, Pa. 18940. Arrangements are by Fluehr
Notes: A photograph of Professor Schwarzschild is available at