Department of Astronomy
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Dr. Howard L. Cohen

Associate Professor Emeritus


College of Liberal Arts & Sciences  •   University of Florida
Gainesville  •   Alachua County  •   Florida
Department of Astronomy
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Ye Stars! Which are the poetry of heaven
– Lord Byron (1788-1824)
In Memory of Professor John Parker Oliver
(1939 November 24 – 2011 February 10)

— Howard L. Cohen —
Emeritus Assoc. Professor of Astronomy
University of Florida

Dr. Oliver was a personal friend, close colleague and remarkable astronomer
who was devoted to his profession, department and family
John P. Oliver
Dr. John P. Oliver

DR. JOHN P. OLIVER, emeritus UF associate professor of astronomy and long-time member of the astronomy department, died peacefully Thursday, 2011 February 10 after a long illness at age 71.

Professor Oliver was a frequent past speaker at Alachua Astronomy Club meetings and a vocal advocate of public outreach until his health declined. He was unique among many astronomers due do his abilities and flair as an excellent speaker and teacher, a superb instrumentalist/programmer and as talented research scientist.

Dr. Oliver traveled to the South Pole four times as co-investigator on the UF South Pole Optical Telescope project. He was also proud of his contributions to the Long Duration Exposure Facility Spacecraft (LDEF) that monitored debris in the near Earth environment for six years. In the last years of his life, John provided star templates for artist Brian Connolly's impressive two-meter great Star Ball Sculpture in Armagh, North Ireland.

Dr. Oliver was a highly respected member of UF's Astronomy Department. During his 42-year tenure in UF's astronomy program he strongly shaped the operation of both the Rosemary Hill and Campus Observatories and served, among other duties, as Associate Chair of the Department.

In the early seventeenth century Galileo Galilei turned his telescopes on the sky and we were never the same again. Humanity and astronomy in particular were changed forever.

In 1970 I first met John when he was interviewing for a position in the Department of Astronomy and I was changed forever. His acceptance into our department began a long friendship and collaboration on many joint projects, and an unequaled devotion to his department and students.

John is survived by his devoted wife, Barbara, three children, two grandchildren, and a great granddaughter. John Parker Oliver


CELEBRATION SERVICE A service in Celebration of John's Life was held March 20, 2011 (date of the 2011 Vernal Equinox), 2:00–4:30 p.m. EDT at the his home with a program at 3:00 p.m.

DONATIONS John's family has established and will maintain "The John P. Oliver Graduate Award" to be given annually to a graduate student exemplifying the qualities that Dr. Oliver valued. Send donations to the UF Foundation (P.O. Box 14425, Gainesville, FL 32604-2425, attn. Cody Helmer) with the award's name on the check.

Last updated 2011 June 14
© 2011 H.L. Cohen