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reflections A few words from friends and colleagues

Please send your reflections to Bernadette Rodgers.

I remember Michael in grade school at Hoover Elementary. He had a very sparkling personality and a quick wit. He always had a very inquisitive nature. I remember that he played guitar and as school children we all thought he was very smart and talented. He was a joy to be around. Michael was my friend at Hoover Elementary so many years ago, and I am very sorry about his passing.

With Deepest Sympathy,

Brad Wilson, Oklahoma

I and I'm sure everyone is devastated by Michael's death.  The loss to astronomy and Gemini is great, but is insignificant compared to the loss to Michael's family and his large number of friends.

We at Gemini will go forward with him in our thoughts, as we have done with Fred [Gillett]. Michael was a solid, helpful, and kind individual, and the same traits applied to him as a scientist.  Basically he was the type of person who makes life easier for all around him. Let us keep him within us as we face the many challenges ahead.

Tom Geballe, Gemini North astronomer

Please add my heartfelt condolences to the support and comfort you are extending Cheryl and the children as well as to the rest of Michael's family.

Having met Michael recently at the Gemini Science Meeting and having chatted science as well as traded gentle teasing and laughs with him as usual, it comes as an incomprehensible shock to receive this extremely sad news.

If Michael has left me such pleasant memories and friendship in the short time since our first meeting in LaSerena in November last year, I can gauge the depth of loss and grief Michael's family and all of you, his immediate colleagues and friends, must be feeling at present. My thoughts go out to all of you and to Michael's family.

In deep sadness,

Karun Thanjavur, Ph. D. student, University of Victoria, Canada

I was always very impressed with Michael's dedication and seriousness.  I enjoyed working with Michael on several meetings and telecons for FLAMINGOS-2.  In that context, he played an important role in transferring his experience with FLAMINGOS-1 into making sound scientific, technical, and operational choices for the development and implementation of FLAMINGOS-2.  I also was very impressed by his "low-impact" plan to allow GMOS mask design from non-GMOS images and his personal initiative in moving this project forward.  He gave an excellent talk on GMOS mask design at the NGO meeting in Victoria (only about a week before his tragic death!).


Taft Armandroff, US Gemini Science Center, NOAO

On behalf of the Brazilian NGO and also in the name of our Brazilian Astronomical Community we send our condolences to Michael's family and to the Gemini South colleagues.  We render our solidarity in this difficult moments.

Max Abans, Brazil National Gemini Office, Itajuba, Brazil

I'm very sorry to forward this sad and very much unexpected news about the passing of Michael Ledlow, from the Gemini Observatory.  Michael was a co-investigator on the GOODS Spitzer program, who led an active research career studying galaxies and galaxy clusters at high redshift. He started this work initially from the perspective of deep radio observations, and later took keen advantage of Gemini facilities.  His 2002 paper on GMOS spectroscopy of submillimeter sources behind galaxy clusters was one of the early spectroscopic confirmations of SCUBA galaxy redshifts, and also one of the first "high-z" science results from GMOS.  Michael was instrumental in the success of the Gemini-South demonstration science project, led by Daniel Stern, which used FLAMINGOS for spectroscopy in the GOODS-S field and for miscellaneous long-slit observations of high redshift quasars and radio galaxies. Michael also helped us out when we were in a tight pinch with GOODS CTIO MOSAIC observations.   I hope you will join me in wishing his family and colleagues strength and hope in this time of sudden and unexpected sadness.

Mark Dickinson, astronomer, NOAO

I'd certainly like to send my condolences. Michael was a valued colleague who helped enormously on the UDF project. He was also a marvelous person and I can't imagine how his family must feel now, this is terrible, terrible news.

Karl Glazebrook, astronomer at John Hopkins University, Baltimore

 It was with much sadness and shock that I received this news today of the very sudden death of Michael Ledlow. With many of us having been at the Gemini Science meeting in Vancouver and seen and talked to Michael there (seemingly in his usual healthy, bright state), it is very hard to come to terms with his sudden passing. I would like to send a condolence message to Michael's family and colleagues on behalf of the GSC: if any of you would like to contribute to that, particularly those of you who knew him well and had worked closely with him, I would appreciate hearing from you.

Warrick Couch, astronomer and Chair of the Gemini Science Committee,
University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia

Thank you for passing on this shocking news.  Mike worked closely with me while he was a graduate student at UNM and then I hired him as a postdoc at New Mexico State for the last 4 years that I was there.  We continued to stay in touch finishing up papers once he joined the Gemini South project.  Our last collaborative paper was published in AJ just a few months ago.  I'm just floored by his untimely death, leaving behind a young family.  Please let me know if you have any more information.  I'd like to get in touch with Cheryl and Mike's family.

Jack Burns, astronomer, University of Colorado

We have received with deep sadness the news of Michael's illness and sudden death, particularly by those who had the opportunity to interact with him and had a chance to receive his warm and always helpful support. Our condolences to his family and friends in this difficult moment.

Guillermo Bosch, astronomer, Universidad Nacional de La Plata, Argentina

Michael's untimely death is a tragic loss for his family, Gemini, and the astronomical community.  Michael was a good friend and colleague. He was always cheerfully willing to help friends,  co-workers, and other astronomers in need, he took pride in what he did, and both his science and support work were done efficiently and with excellence.  Our impromptu hallway discussions, our pleasant conversations over pints of beer or pisco sours, his advice, and his good natured steadiness will be deeply missed.  I will continue to learn from him as he had achieved an enviable balance of family, science, and support work which I have been stiving to emulate.  He has had a big influence on many, if not all, of us and his spirit and contributions will always be with us.

Bryan Miller, Gemini South astronomer

The outpouring of grief and concern from so many in La Serena is a testament to the wonderful person that Michael was and to the many many friends that Michael and his family have here in Chile.  Michael's gentle, giving nature and easy friendship will be terribly missed, not only at Gemini but also in the community here.  All of our love and support is with Cheryl, Andria and Abby at this time.

Bernadette Rodgers, Gemini South Astronomer

Every member of the Gemini Board of Directors was stunned at the news of the sudden loss of Mike a few days ago. It is hard to know even where to begin to express our deep sense of shared loss with his colleagues and, especially, with his family. Mike epitomized the ideas of leadership and collegiality in his work. Devotion to both Gemini as a team and to illuminating the scientific frontier, and the skills to do both, is a rare combination, and Gemini, its team members, and the entire ensemble of communities it serves, are diminished greatly by his loss.

Our hearts are with Cheryl and her family. This is a time when words are simply inadequate to express how we all feel. I have received expressions of loss from many of our colleagues and if it provides any solace to her at all, please let her know that she and her family are in our thoughts all over the world.

Professor Bruce Carney, astronomer, University of North Carolina - Chair of the Gemini Board

To the family and friends of Michael Ledlow;

What a shock to receive the announcement from the UNM PandA alumni exploder of Michael's untimely death. Michael and I overlapped for a short time while I was finishing my Ph.D. with Jack Burns at UNM. He had started out with Jack as well, but I think it was when Jack left UNM for Las Cruces that Michael started working more closely with Fraser Owen.

My overlap with Mike "Redrow" was long enough to have gained a wonderful rapport with an incredibly gentle man. I shall always remember him for his easy smile, his gentle demeanour, and his quiet brilliance. He shared an office with myself, my wife to be (Jodi Asbell, who also sends her condolences), and with a mutual friend, Jun-Hui Zhao, whose pronounciation of Michael's last name gave Michael his office nickname.

My deepest condolences go out to his young family, his colleagues, his friends, his parents, and of course his wife. It breaks my heart to think his children have had their father ripped away from them at such a young age, and the only compensation I can think of is that Michael was such a principled and compassionate man, that he has likely imparted upon his children more of himself in his short time with them than many parents are able to do in a full lifetime.

God speed, Michael.

David Clarke (UNM class of 1988)

I've just heard the very sad and shocking news of Michael Ledlow's death. He seemed a terrific person, and I'm just so sad for his family. I didn't know Michael really well, but I had the opportunity to interact with Michael as part of the GLARE collaboration, and he proved the most wonderfully helpful person during some stressful days trying to get our observations set up.

My very sincere condolences to his family and to his friends at the observatory.

Best regards,

Bob Abraham, University of Toronto

As I started my graduate courses at UNM in 1987, as the same year as Michael did, it was a quite surprise to hear unexpected passing of my former fellow student. I always remembered him as being a man with wonderful gentle personality. It was a pity that his research career ended so early. I would like to express my deepest and heartfelt condolences to Michael's family.

Takahiro Tsutsumi
National Astronomical Observatory of Japan

Michael was an incredibly warm person and an excellent astronomer. I regret not to have interacted more with him. Life can be so strange.

Sebastian Lopez, Chilean National Gemini Office

Please extend my deepest sympathies to Cheryl, Alexandria and Abigail and the rest of the Ledlow family. It was quite a shock to hear that Mike had passed away over the weekend. I collaborated with Mike on several observing projects over the years, and it was always a pleasure to work at the telescope with him. He always brought a special enthusiasm for science and collecting good data. I will miss him greatly and I'm sure that all the people at Gemini South will feel the same deep loss.


Dr. John M. Hill
Large Binocular Telescope Observatory

I was deeply saddened by the news of Michael's passing. He was a truly wonderful man in all aspects of his life.

Mike took me on my first observing run to Kitt Peak. I have a fond memory of looking out on a beautiful sunset on that first night, and Mike remarking about how great it was to be an observer. We would subsequently observe together on more runs at Kitt Peak, plus Apache Point and Cerro Tololo. In fact, my first CTIO run was a perfect example of what made Mike so special. I was a bit down about my first job search and some delays in starting my first postdoc. Mike brought me down to La Serena to involve me in an observing program, a gesture that showed incredible kindness and kept me excited about astronomy. He was a great friend who also happened to be a great astronomer.

Neal Miller

It was with great shock and terrible sadness to hear of Michael's sudden and untimely death. Michael
was known to all of us as a highly valued and dedicated Gemini staff scientist. Many of us had experienced personally his outstanding qualities in supporting the Gemini instruments and their users; he did so always cheerfully, with great efficiency, and with reassuring authority. He was also known to all of us as a shining light as a scientist and in pursuing his own research activities, working at the forefront in such areas as the study of high redshift galaxies, and leading the way in these areas in the use of the Gemini telescopes. He will be a great loss to the Gemini Observatory, to all his colleagues throughout the Gemini partnership, and to astronomy. We wish to extend our deepest and heart-felt sympathy to his family and friends and this time of terrible loss.

Warrick Couch
Chair, Gemini Science Committee

I worked with Michael on several aspects of GMOS support and he was contact scientist for some of my own programs. In fact my first view of a Gemini telescope was when Michael showed me round Gemini South four years ago. On that visit I was made to feel very welcome and immediately part of the Gemini staff by Michael, who took the time to give me a thorough introduction to Gemini. Later, as a GMOS support scientist, he was always extremely helpful and constantly thinking of ways to improve the instrument performance and its scientific output. The extneded GMOS team will greatly miss him, as will all the Gemini users who benefitted from his helpful insights.

Isobel Hook, Head of UK NGO

I was shocked to hear about Michael's untimely death. Michael was our instrument scientist on a Gemini-N/GMOS run less than 2 months ago, and I am not exaggerating in saying that we obtained data mainly because of his dedication and expertise. This is a great loss to Gemini and to its astronomical community.

Arjun Dey, NOAO

I am very devastated with Michael's death. I still have a vivid image of him in either in Gemini's control room, or in La Serena and Santiago Airport where we happened to be together during my last trip to Chile in April 2004. He was always welcoming and interested in other's activities. This is terrible news. Please give my most profound condolences to his family.

Jacques Sebag, NOAO Tucson

As I wrote before, the FLAMINGOS-2 team at the University of Florida is devastated by Michael's sudden passing. He was a real pleasure to work with, both on FLAMINGOS-2 and during the time FLAMINGOS-1 was on Gemini. His passing is a tremendous loss to both Gemini and the University of Florida, and all of our thoughts are with his family in this most difficult of times.

Best Regards,

Steve Eikenberry on behalf of the University of Florida Infrared Instrumentation Group

Joe and I would like to express our deepest sympathy to Michael's family. We are deeply grieved, for his death was so surprising and so sudden.

We were all fellow graduate students at UNM. Joe and Mike took some classes together. There are many who will feel the loss of Mike.

Our prayers go with you,

Kristin Scott, Optical Engineer, Plasmon Inc.

I worked pretty closely with him on one of my projects with GMOS. He's also the one who took me up to the telescope for the first time, so he taught me a lot about the whole system. He was quite intelligent and I had a lot of respect for him. It was nice working with him, and I'm glad that I got the chance.

I'd like to pass on my condolences to his family, friends, and coworkers.


Matthew Stevenson, University of Victoria

Please give our love and aloha to Cheryl and their family. We all loved working with Michael, and that is not just platitude. I never heard anyone express frustration or anger or disatisfaction with him as a person or as an astronomer. It was an honor to have known and worked with him.


Joe Jensen, Gemini astronomer

I am going to miss Michael. And my family will too. And we'll miss Cheryl and Andria and Abby terribly. I did not work with Michael. I know he was a fine scientist because so many of our colleagues who did work with him have told me so. What was special about the Ledlows for me was that they were an integral part of the community here in La Serena. They lived in Casa 17 in middle of the AURA recinto, and now a hole has appeared literally and figuratively in our community. Its because of people like the Ledlows that the AURA community in Chile is more than a sum of the different observatories. Its a shared experience that binds us across organizations. Mike was a big part of the forging of these bonds between the people of Gemini and Tololo and SOAR. Mike loved living in Chile. He liked learning and speaking the language; he loved the people; he enjoyed the beach and the mountains. And he loved working at Gemini.

Robert Blum, NOAO Tololo

I was away on vacation and out-of-touch from June 4 until June 13th. Thus I have just found out the shocking news. I am really just coming to grips with the reality of it. Just on Jun 1, I received email from him about how much he was looking forward to finishing up a number of ongoing joint projects when the current trip was over. He always was such a positive person.

He was wonderful to work with over last dozen years but even more special as a friend. Clearly he affected many of us in a special way and he will be both missed and remembered. His other collaborators and I will make sure his work is finished and published but life will never be quite the same without Mike.

Frazer Owen, astronomer, NRAO

We are all very sad in the Chilean Gemini Office over Michael Ledlow's passing. We were always impressed by his human and scientific qualities that he employed with generosity in supporting Gemini instrumentation and observations. I was very pleased to see him very recently at both Vancouver and Victoria and could not believe the bad news.

Luis Campusano, astronomer, Universidad de Chile Santiago

Dear Gemini South Staff,

I want to personally send my condolences to each of you as you grieve for the loss of your friend, fellow co-worker, and collaborator, Michael Ledlow. His sudden death is a shock to all of us. We all feel the sadness.

We shall remember him...

At the rising of the sun and its going down,
We shall remember him.

At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of Winter,
We shall remember him.

At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of Summer,
We shall remember him.

As long as we live, he too will live,
Because we remember him.

As you celebrate his life this Friday, I will be with you in spirit,
upholding you in my prayers.

All my sincerest sympathy to everyone.

Melissa Welborn

Dear Michael: We admired you, we respected you and we loved you.  You played quite a trick on us.  You were such a wonderful human being, such an indispensable colleague, such a kind father, that we thought we had you forever. We are shaken by your sudden departure.  Like a supernovae you were bright and powerful.  Just like a supernova, you have energized and given something of you that will help to make us more complex and richer human beings.  Behind your kindness you hid an unusual strength of character.  You combined softness and determination, patience and perseverance.  You had the solid qualities of the quiet and firm leader.  You knew where you were going, what to do and you inspired all of us.  You enjoyed life thoroughly and embraced as much of it as was possible. You were passionate: for the stars and the galaxies, especially the furthest away. You loved the mountains.  Music was an addiction. You enjoyed the great foods and the wines of the world; it was most enjoyable to share these things with you.  You were a marvelous friend and colleague.  

 Jean-Rene Roy, astronomer and Gemini North Associate Director

I wanted to send my deepest sympathy to Mike's family. I was shocked to read of his death. I knew him a long time ago. He was a great guy who was always smiling. My prayers are for his family. That God give them the strength and courage to get through this hard time.

M. Davis