Passing of Jerry Sherlin

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Credit: The following article is from the Denver Astronomical Society online newsletter.

A memorial service for Jerry Sherlin will be held Saturday, January 12 at the 
Southeast Church of Christ, 14601 E. Yale Avenue, Aurora, CO 80014


He joined the U.S. Air Force in 1959, retiring in 1981.  In the Air Force, he attended the weather forecasting school and spent most of his career in space weather predictions.  He served at the Air Force's Geophysics Labs (Hanscom Field, MA) for three years, followed by four years at the Air Force Global Weather Central’s Space Environmental department, where real-time reports from solar observatories around the world were received and the data used to forecast the effects of solar activity (e.g. solar flares and CMEs) on NASA-USAF near-Earth space missions and HF radio propagation.

Jerry was assigned to the Learmonth Solar Observatory, Learmonth, Western Australia where he served as Superintendent of the radio observatory.  Learmonth Solar Observatory is jointly operated by Australian Bureau of Meteorology - Space Weather Services and the USAF as part of their Solar Observing Optical Network. Jerry pointed out that both telescopes at Learmonth, Australia, and Holloman AFB we made by Dr Richard Dunn, former Director of the USAF solar observatory at Sacramento Peak, NM.  

Jerry worked as a civil servant at the Air Force’s Sacramento Peak Sunspot Solar Observatory and Cloudcroft Observatory, about 18 mile north of the Sacramento Peak Observatory. When Jerry worked at Cloudcroft it was officially known as Cloudcroft Electro-Optical Research Facility, owned and operated by the U.S. Air Force (USAF) until 1982. At Cloudcroft Observatory Jerry worked with a 1.2-meter reflector.  He and a colleague did photometric work on the HST  Guidestar Project.  It should be mentioned that Jerry and a few others actually did the first work on this project.  It was at this point Jerry joined the NWS – where he spent the next 18 years retiring in 1999 in Sioux City, IA.

Most people from Jerry’s past considered Jerry to be a meteorologist.  In fact, Jerry was trained in meteorology while in the Air Force. However, almost all his 22+ years in the Air Force was spent in space weather prediction, and all his time after 1999 was spent in astronomy. After retiring from civil service, Jerry immersed himself astronomy in every way he could.  In the Astronomical League he held positions of Executive Secretary, Vice President, and later 2-years as President.  Jerry chaired the Astronomical League’s 50th anniversary ALCon at Copper Mountain in 1997.

Jerry taught astronomy for 14 years at Arapahoe Community College and the Comunity College of Aurora.  During his time at the CCA he was instrumental in securing the funding, purchasing and constructing an observatory building for the 14” telescope.  Jerry also started the bi-annual of what is probably one of the most visible events at the Community College of Aurora, the Sherlin Lecture Series on astronomy and space sciences. Guest lecturers have included the Directors of the Mount Wilson Observatory, Chamberlin Observatory, and  Mt Evan’s Observatory, Deputy Project Scientist for Pluto’s New Horizons mission, astrophysicists from CU’s Joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics, Space Science Institute, and Southwest Research Institute.  The Sherlin Lecture Series has been going for over 10 years now and continues.

Organizations that Jerry belonged to included:

  • Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society (UK) 
  • Professional (full) member of the American Astronomical Society 
  • Listed in Who’s Who in Science & Engineering 
  • American Association for the Advancement Science 
  • Americab Association of Variable Star Observers 
  • Association of Lunar & Planetary Observers
  • Denver Astronomical Society