John Shakeshaft (Photo courtesy of St. Catharine's College)
Modified on Tuesday, 17-Dec-2019 10:50:00 EST by Ellen Bouton, Archivist (Questions or feedback)
Contributed by Richard Wielebinski
John Shakeshaft died on 6th July 2015 in Cambridge. He was one of the early personalities of radio astronomy at the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge.
Born in 1929, John was at the St. Johnís College for his undergraduate studies, his Ph.D. work, and held a Fellowship in Electrical Engineering at the college. He was elected to a Fellowship at St. Catharineís College in 1961 that became his home for many years. John was a Director of Studies at St. Catharineís College for over 30 years as well as being a Fellow Librarian for over 40 years. John Shakeshaft was the President of St. Catharineís College from 1990 to 1994. He also held several posts at the Royal Astronomical Society, including Editor and Secretary.
John joined the radio astronomy group in the very beginnings and was the main author of the 2C survey in 1955. This early 2C survey was superseded with Johnís involvement by the 3C survey that was an important basis for radio source studies for many years. In view of his engineering background John Shakeshaft became involved in supervising the more technical Ph.D. theses in the radio astronomy group. He supervised Ivan Pauliny-Toth making 404 MHz survey, then a very high frequency. John also supervised Richard Wielebinski and succeeded in detecting polarized Galactic radio emission, an experiment that needed technical expertise. The detection of the Cosmic Microwave Background led to publications with T.F. Howell of papers with absolute temperature calibrations at 20.7 cm wavelength. In his later years John Shakeshaft was always ready to give advice on technical problems facing new observations. John became Emeritus Fellow of St. Catharineís College in 1997.
All those that knew John personally will remember a pleasant person with a great sense of humor. His laugh could be heard in the whole attic of the old Cavendish Laboratory in Free School Lane. John was a dedicated potter filling his college rooms constantly with new items of his handwork. John Shakeshaft will be missed in the Radio Astronomy Group, Cavendish Laboratory.