Email: milone at ucalgary.ca
(direct email to Milone)
Phone: 403-220-5412 / 6338
Physics & Astronomy Dept.,
The University of Calgary,
2500 University Dr., N.W.
Calgary, Alberta T2N 1N4
My graduate training was primarily in observational astronomy, especially
in the observation and modeling of binary star systems and other variable stars.
I am privileged to have had instruction at Yale from two of the finest people I have known: the late Harlan J. Smith, a paragon teacher, Director of the McDonald Observatory, Chairman of the Astronomy Department of the University of Texas, and the discoverer of the dwarf cepheid class of variable stars; and the late Adriaan J. Wesselink, a kind and modest person, my thesis advisor, and originator of the Wesselink Method (to find the radius of a Cepheid variable), which he referred to as the 'Baade-Wesselink Method.' It is to Professor Wesselink that I owe my interest in precision instrumentation, an interest that led to the Rapid Alternate Detection System (RADS), discussed under Instrumentation & Techniques and below. It is also to him that I owe my interest in binary stars (Prof. Wesselink's Ph.D. thesis was on the optical, eclipsing and cluster binary star system SZ Cam). A third mentor, Richard Tousey, former Head of the Rocket and Spectroscopy Branch of NRL's Space Science Division, helped me to gain confidence and to grow as a scientist during my early post-doctoral years.
My undergraduate training at Columbia was in mathematics, with nearly as much course work in physics, astronomy, philosophy, and religion. This multidisciplinary background has made me aware of the many paths we have to better understand the universe in which we live, and move, and have our being. It has found expression academically through the introduction of historical and philosophical background issues in all my courses and particularly in the development of the Archaeoastronomy course (see 'Teaching', below), undertaken over a span of nearly thirty years with archaeology Professor Emeritus David H. Kelley, recently deceased. The Columbia instructors who made the strongest impression were: my Contemporary Civilization instructor, Frank F. Wekerle, Astronomy professors Jan Schilt, Isidore Epstein, and Lloyd Motz, and Physics professors Polycarp Kusch, Leon Lederman, and Shirley Quimby.
Note that these projects centered around interest in fundamental properties of stars and the conditions affecting stellar and cluster evolution. Because the best modeling requires the best possible data, we developed a number of improvements in instrumentation and techniques over the years. These are discussed under the research area headings and under 'Astronomical Instrumentation & Techniques'.
Specific contributions by our groups are:
During the course of work on these objectives, one particular area
was identified as requiring special attention: improved modeling of
the spectral distribution of the flux from targeted eclipsing binary
The success of stellar evolution studies is critically dependent on
progress in this area, because the modeling of light curves is a
prime tool in obtaining fundamental parameters of stars. For the
June 1997 AAS meeting, I organized a special topics session (No. 22
with associated poster session, No. 31) on
1997 AAS Topical Meeting
My general areas of research are described in the following links:
Thanks mainly to the generosity of the late Dr. A. R. (Sandy) Cross, a large part
of my contributions to the last area has been done right here in Calgary,
at the University of Calgary's observatory, the RAO, located in Priddis,
Alberta. He not only provided the land for the observatory and a quarter
section besides (which helps fund plant upkeep and prevents the RAO's maintenance from
being a burden), but also helped out at critical moments throughout the
development period. In the past few years, I have been Principal Investigator
on two provincial grants, which, with matching funding (some of it from Sandy
himself), brought about $740,000 to the restoration of the research
infrastructure, educational and research communications capability, and
science and awareness outreach through an enhanced Open House program.
On this upbeat note, on Sept. 1, 2004 I stepped down as RAO director,
after nearly a third of a century of stewardship, most of it as Co-Director,
with Professor Emeritus T. A. Clark. Dr. Rene Plume, Associate Director for
the previous two years, accepted the role of Acting Director; he served for another year
as director. In 2006, Dr. Philip Langill became director.
In September 2005, I Formally retired from the University as a paid employee, but became a Faculty Professor for another six years to be able to carry on as before (without undergraduate teaching).
Some details about the history and development of the RAO are to be found at:
For details about current operations at the RAO, please consult:
I continue research and writing. Some of my interests can be found at the these sites: