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November 18th, 2010

Future SF conventions...

 Believe it or not, I am trying to schedule my life for February of 2012. Yes, that is more than a year away.

In particular, I have a possible paying gig in the Chicagoland area that month, and so I ask... does anyone here know if a date has been set yet for Capricon 32?

Brian Marsden (1937 - 2010)

Just received from the Minor Planet Center:

"It is with great sadness that we inform you of the death of Brian Marsden. Brian had been seriously ill for some months, but the end came quite quickly about an hour ago. Funeral arrangements are to be arranged."

I will be writing more about Brian in a few days. Just a few uncollected thoughts here...

He was a huge figure in planetary sciences. As director for many years of the Minor Planet Center in Cambridge (MA) he kept track of all the discoveries of comets and asteroids, and was famously outspoken about Pluto, but that should by no means be all that he's remembered for. Mostly he did all the hard work of keeping track of the inventory of our solar system at a time when that inventory grew and changed at a remarkable rate; he did it all with a skeleton staff, virtually no resources, dealing with a group of sometimes ornery or egotistical discoverers; and he did a damned fine job with a great British sense of humor.

I also knew him as a member of the IAU Planetary Surfaces Nomenclature working group, where he always was temperate and reasonable, and took his responsibilities seriously. Of course we didn't always agree, but when we didn't, we could disagree most civilly, and he always had a valid point of view.

And I just plain liked being around him. I will miss him.

(Addition: an obituary can be found here.)

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