Words of Remembrance for Janet A. Mattei
It was with deep sorrow that I learned of the death of Dr. Janet Mattei. It is great loss for amateur and professional astronomy. Please accept my sincere condolences. —Jerzy Speil (Poland)
I only knew Janet Mattei from brief meetings with her at the past two spring meetings of the AAVSO. I have not been able to begin an active observing program. My best chance to visit with her personally was on the flight back to LA from Hawaii; I happened to sit next to her on that flight. Although only a brief acquaintance, I feel her loss greatly. Her personality had a tremendous impact on all who knew her and all who met her.
I was also greatly impressed by the impact she had on the AAVSO. I know of no other professional organization for which one person had such a great influence. Her kindness and generosity, her committment to draw in and involve both professional and amateur astronomers, and her enthusiasm made her and her relationship with the AAVSO unique. She will be sorely missed. The greatest tribute to her will be to continue to carry on the organization with her vision, and I am certain that this will happen because of the great love I sensed everyone had for her. —Jim Borgwald
I was shocked and deeply saddened to receive news of Janet Mattei's passing yesterday. I had known Janet for nearly 30 years, and have fond memories of visiting her at the (old) AAVSO headquarters, as well as at various functions over the years. Her dedication, and most of all enthusiasm, will be sorely missed. I am confident, however, that her legacy -- a thriving and energetic worldwide network of capable observers -- will survive long into the future.
Please accept my condolences on her passing. —Ron Webbink
May Janet Rest in Peace. My deepest sympathies to all those who knew Janet and condolences to her family and friends. —Atul P. Naik (India)
Carmen and I, would like to convey our deepest sorrow and condolences to Mike and the rest of Janets family, and to all at Headquarters who I am sure are overcome by this great loss.
We very much understand what you are experiencing right now, having just been through the same situation in our family.
We would very much appreciate being kept informed of funeral and memorial arrangements. —Winston Wilkerson
We wish to extend our deepest sympathies to the AAVSO staff and Janet’s family. She did a great job. We will miss her. —Bill and Patricia Sherman
I am deeply saddened by the passing of Janet. The world has lost a leader, the world had lost a friend. I have so many fond memories of Janet beginning when I was but a fledgling of age 14. She unified amateur astronomers worldwide and blazed a trail for AAVSO, taking it away from the ideologies of early 20th-century thinking and rocketing it into the 21st century. She was a rare woman who had the courage and fortitude to face the challenges of a new and evolving world, and she did it with a smile; I will always remember Janet's smile. I will always remember Janet. She touched the future. She touched me. She touched the world. —Steve O'Meara
I am so sorry to hear that Janet Mattei has left us. I'm sure that everyone who knew her will be saddened by her passing.
She inspired me to take up variable star observing in the 1980's when she gave a speech at the local amateur astronomy club in Seattle. I, like many others, owe her my thanks for that inspiration. For me, the observing and the association with Janet and the AAVSO has been an important part of my life.
I thank Janet for that. —Ken Luedeke
A long struggle has ended. We, all the members of Skywatchers' Association of Kolkata appreciate Janet's courageous battle and express our sympathy to all of her friends and colleagues. —Maitreyee (India)
On behalf of the South African Astronomical Observatory, I would like to express our sincere condolences to the family and friends of Janet Mattei on the loss of a loved one, a friend, and a respected colleague.
Those of us who met Janet at conferences will remember her warm, engaging personality and the manner in which she was as a very articulate champion for the AAVSO and its programmes. She had a strong personal interest in supporting emerging astronomy groups, particularly in developing countries, and she was always willing to help in practical terms.
I would like to reflect on some Janet’s contributions to the development of astronomy in Africa, which may not be widely known or appreciated. Janet encouraged and promoted the resurgence of the astronomy group at the (then) University of the Orange Free State in South Africa. This group now operates a refurbished 1.5-m reflector for research and education projects. Through her kind efforts, AAVSO materials were introduced into Kenya, Zambia and Ethiopia, where they now form part of the undergraduate astronomy teaching resources used in universities in those countries.
Janet Mattei will be remembered and deeply missed by those who benefitted from her friendship, encouragement and support. —Peter Martinez, Acting Director, South African Astronomical Observatory
My sincerest condolences on the loss of Janet. I was lucky enough to work at AAVSO as a summer hire back in 1981 (maybe Elizabeth still remembers me) and Janet shepherded me through a couple research projects that I still look back on fondly. I'd run into Janet at astronomy conferences and she'd remember me and was proud to let me know that my work on refinining the periods of 2 long-period variables was still being used.
All the best and my thoughts are with you. —Mike Davis
I can't tell you how sorry I was to hear the news of Janet's death. I had been following the bulletins about her illness and had been so pleased to hear that she was fighting back with her usual tenacity.
The two occasions where we interacted more than briefly were, first, during her visit to South Africa for a variable star conference and an associated teacher workshop - we still have a picture of her at the workshop laughing with the teachers who thought she was wonderful "a real inspiration". The second occasion was at the Carbon star meeting in Turkey where she was a mine of information on the country as well as the stars.
She did a get deal for professional and amateur astronomy, but will perhaps be particularly remembered for her activity at interface between professions and amateurs which help make astronomy a unique and very special profession. I knew her as a warm and friendly person with a deep interest in individuals and in science. We only bumped into each other every couple of years, usually at international conferences, but we also corresponded from time to time about variable stars. I can already foresee the occasions on which I will think "it would be good to talk to Janet about that". We will most certainly miss her.
My condolences to her family and friends. —Patricia Whitelock (South Africa)
I wish to extend my deepest sympathies to you all on the loss of your beloved Janet. After reading Aaron's most compassionate eulogy, it is only obvious that her loss is deeply feel on many dimensions. Please be assured that my thoughts and prayers extend to you at this most difficult time. Thank you for the informative updates during Janet's trials. —Dan Taylor
This is very sad news. She has done so much for VS astronomy and for a lot of observers, incl myself.
I was expecting to see Janet back in the office soon. What a cruel blow!
Please forward my condoleances to the other staff memebers and Janet's husband and other family members. But we all loose a warm and caring person. After meeting her in good health last december I never thought this would all happen and so soon. —Berto Monard (South Africa)
Even having known she was ill, it is still a huge shock to learn of Janet's death. I first met Janet when I arrived at CfA in the late 1980s, and have always admired her leadership in connecting the amateur and professional sides of astronomy, as well as valuing her warmth and charisma.
I am confident that her friends will continue her legacy, building the `community' in the phrase `astronomical community'. Let's honor Janet's memory by redoubling our efforts to foster the amateur-professional alliance in the field and by reflecting her sunniness and good humor in our own interactions with our colleagues.
With deepest sympathy to all of you down the road at Birch St., —Jonathan McDowell Center for Astrophysics, Sky and Telescope
I do not have enough words to express the depth of my sorrow about Janet's departure. Professional and amateur astronomers world wide have lost a great colleague, mentor, and friend. Janet was a leader and visionary who has brought the art of observing variable stars to the space age. She was also my dearest friend and I will miss her immensely. I know that memories of her friendship and great kindness will guide us in the future, and I hope that she is now closer to the stars that she loved so much. —Margarita Karovska
I was struck by the news about Janet's death. I have known her since 1973, and she was indeed a wonderful person. Variable star astronomy will not be the same without her. —Wolfgang Gieren (Chile)
Very sad news. I have known Janet for over 35 years. I will miss her enthusiasm and excitment for variable stars and her kindness to everyone. — Edward Guinan
It is with deep regret that I feel obliged to inform you that Dr. Janet Mattei deceased on Monday. Janet was not only a strong and impressive leader of the AAVSO for many years, but also a very friendly person who had the ability to communicate in the most optimum way with different types of astronomers and particularly between amateur and professional astronomers. She also played a very important role model for women in astronomy and was one of my important personal mentors. I will miss her very much; she will stay in my mind forever and I am sure I speak on behalf of many of us.
I would like to ask those of you who organise a meeting with variable star astronomers in the coming months to start their meeting with a one-minute-silence in honour of Janet.
I hope that my next message will bring better news. — Conny Aerts (Belgium)
Sad news indeed. I think your suggestion is very appropriate. —Peter Martinez (South Africa)
It is with deep sadness that I have read about the death of Dr. Janet Mattei. I met her when she attended the Symposium of the Astronomical Society of Southern Africa in November/December 2002. She was a very kind person and made friends with everyone. After I have submitted my paper, she made some very encouraging observations which meant a lot to me as an amateur astronomer. We shall all miss her very much. —Frikkie de Bruyn (South Africa)
To my deep regret, I had got the message concerning the untimely death of Janet Mattei. Her prominent activity had made an epoch in variable stars research, making observations of thousands of astronomers all over the world accessible to the Science of Astronomy, putting professionals and amateurs together.
I was glad to meet her at various meetings dedicated to variable stars of different types - pulsating, cataclysmic and other interacting binaries. Especially prominent was the AAVSO meeting in Europe (Sion, Switzerland) in 1997, when amateurs from different continents met each other as well as the professionals.
The notes on Janet's life and activity may be sent to various astronomical journals. In the Ukraine, I plan to submit such an information to our national popular journal "Nashe Nebo" ("Our Sky"). Maybe other colleagues may do the same in their countries.
The memory on Janet Mattei will live in our hearts. —Ivan L.Andronov (Ukraine)
A very sad and unexpected news...Now, I shall not be able to watch a variable star without thinking of Janet. —Michel Jacquesson (France)
... to express to you and everyone at HQ our profound shock and distress at the news received yesterday, particularly after Janet's recovery seemed to be going so well. With Janet's family, you are all in our thoughts, and I can only echo the eloquent tributes to Janet that have appeared on the discussion group and elsewhere. —Hazel McGee
Dear Mario, I was shocked and deeply saddened to hear the news about Janet. I just saw it as we opened up the dome for the night on the Liverpool Telescope, La Palma and this made it all the more poignant as Janet has always been a great supporter of ours.
Please pass on the sincere condolences of myself and all my colleagues in Liverpool. —Mike Bode (UK)
I send my deepest sympathies and condolences to Janet's family and close friends. Thanks Janet for Your contribute to understand our beautiful Universe. Janet's soul and spirit live forever. —Fabrizio Migliorini (Italy)
I'd like to send my condolences and sympathies to Mike Mattei and all Janet's family. I share a deep sadness with AAVSO HQ staff, Janet's friends, amateur and professional astronomers, aavso members or non members in these sad moments.
Unfortunately I only could talk with Janet once, by phone. It was on 1998, when I called HQ to report one last-minute observation of SS Cyg; expecting to talk to answering machine, Janet was at the phone. She took my observation and asked if I was speaking with Janet Mattei (I supposed that because I knew she usually was leaving HQ late). Janet replied me yes, I was excited, and, in a very bad english, I told I was expecting to get more daily observations on SS Cyg if weather made it possible. She said they got my observations at AAVSO by the answering machine and said thanks for the help. I can not forget how kind Janet was that time; I'm sure this is the kindness who everybody who met her talks. The call ended with Janet saying to me 'Muchas gracias' thank you very much in spanish, some last words I will never forget.
Hasta Siempre, Farewell Janet. —Miguel Rodriguez (Spain)
I was very saddened when I heard Dr. Janet had died. Here enthusiasm was contagious. My first letter from the AAVSO said "The Director" had picked out the stars for me. Those stars were better than an astrologist's prediction for me. When the AAVSO presence on the Internet started to grow, I sent Dr. Janet a "paper" with suggestions. It wasn't published but she called me to discussed it. She guided the AAVSO to adopt computers. She also guided the AAVSO to adopt the Internet. Dr. Janet was ready and able when new frontiers offered themselves to astronomy. But it was not easy for her either. There were always those who felt the AAVSO did not go fast enough, with computers, with the Internet, with CCD photometry.
I once asked Dr. Janet if I should invest in CCD or an 18 inch telescope. As AAVSO Director she balanced the opportunities with the costs and the current state of the technology. The current health of the AAVSO owes much to her good judgment. While I always doubt she looked at all 8 million observations, like many observers, I'm sure she looked at everyone of mine. Dr. Janet was truly an international personality, a world figure. From the beginning, when I got the publication on women in astronomy sent to me free from the AAVSO, I was suspicious of feminist motives. Since then I have never found my first suspicions to be true. With Dr. Janet it was always astronomy and variable stars and enjoying life that were first. How could it be anyway else for a traveler of the world like her. Recently reading the autobiography of Dr. Dorit Hoffliet promoted by the AAVSO, I came across the name of a woman I met on one Easter Sunday while visiting family friends in the late 1950's, Jocelyn Gill. She was a PhD student at Yale in astronomy and as I now know spent a summer at the Maria Mitchell Observatory. So I knew somebody who knew somebody who knew Dr. Janet before I met her. It's a small world. Upon her death it is also a sad one. —Dave Sworin
It is with a deep sadness that I inform you that Dr. Janet Mattei passed away on Monday after a long and courageous battle with leukemia.
For more then 30 years Janet has been a strong leader of the American Association of Variable Stars Observers (AAVSO), and a visionary who has brought the art of observing variable stars to the space age. Professional and amateur astronomers world wide have lost a great colleague, mentor, and friend. This is especially the case for the CfA, because of our long-term association with the AAVSO -- since its founding -- and because of the many fruitful collaborations and personal friendships Janet had with CfA staff and students. —Irwin Shapiro Information about a memorial service will be available soon.
Our most sincere respects for in this great loss for all amateurs astronomers. The AAVSO will never have another director as competent or a better friend for all of us who observe variable stars In my name and in name of the observers of M1 Group, please receive our most heartfelt respects. —Jose Ripero (Spain)
Janet fostered my aspirations for astronomy science and education. In the early 90's Janet had chosen me to be the official Astrophotographer for the AAVSO's & NSF (HOA) Hands on Astrophysics Project. Her guidance & knowledge of Science & education based Astronomy was instrumental, and help me want to contribute even more to help children take an interest in astronomy by doing real science in the class room and under the night sky.
This was what really changed my life and my future in Astronomy, it went from hobby to doing real science almost overnight, she help me to believe in myself and that amatuer astronomers have a lot to offer and can seriously contribute to both science and education.
Janet was one of the kindest, helpful, and motivated individuals I've had to the priveledge of knowing.
She was an awesome photographer as well, she had many beautiful flower portraits that she was kind enough to show me.
In my heart and mind, she will always be remembered as a Great Leader and Mentor, but also a very good friend.
I will miss her deeply! —John Chumack
So terribly sorry to learn of the tragic passing of Janet. All seemed to be going so well judging by the recent e-mails, and then - - . She was in the prayers of our family for the last many months, and it is with sadness that we now realise that her brave fight is now over. Another bright star shines in the firmanent. Please pass on our condolences to her family.—Brian Gordon-States(UK)
We are so saddened to hear of Dr. Janet Mattei's death. We respect her great contribution in AAVSO, and in fostering collaboration between amateur and professional astronomers. We remember that she kindly attended to our annual meeting held at Dynic Astro Park near Kyoto in 1997.
Please accept our deepest sympathies and give our hearfelt condolences to her family and AAVSO members.
I personally remember her hospitality at AAVSO annual meeting at Hawaii.—Seiichiro Kiyota (Japan)
Last Updated: July 1, 2010 - 10:39am