Words of Remembrance for Janet A. Mattei
I have just returned from the National Science Festival here in SA and was unable to access my e-mail whilst there.
It is indeed with great sadness that we have learnt of Janet's passing. She was an honorary life member of the Astronomical Society of South Africa and she contributed enormously to variable star observation here, in addition to her sterling efforts in astronomy education.
Her passing will leave an enormous gap that will be felt for many years. Our sincerest condolences are extended to her and her family and immediate friends - our thoughts are with you all in these difficult times.
On a personal level I would like to extend my own condolences. I met Janet several times and found her to be a truly inspirational person: I will miss her greatly. —Case Rijsdijk (South Africa)
The heavens shine with the advent of a new supernova tonight-Janet Mattei has joined the stars which she loved so well. I cannot begin to express my grief at the loss of such a wonderful human being. Dr. Mattei was the epitome of brilliance, kindness, charity, and vision. My prayers go to Mike and the family. —Bruce Huskey
Words fail to express our sympathy. Since 75th Anniversary meeting, Dr.Mattei gave us warm contact as a Director of AAVSO. Especially, because Nobuko has same hobby : gardening, Dr.Mattei often sent us the beautiful photograph of flowers in her garden. Nobuko is taking photos of flowers in my garden in order to send and diverse the hard rehabilitation. It became in vain. We pray for the repose of a soul.—Seiichi & Nobuko Sakuma (Japan)
Ante el dolor por la perdida de la amiga Janet Mattei, Directora de AAVSO, le enviamos nuestras condolencias a la AAVSO y sus familiares. La comunidad de aficionados a la Astronomia ha perdido f�sicamente un baluarte y modelo que ser� recordada por siempre.—Luis Mansilla (Argentina)
It was very sad to hear of Janet Mattei's illness and death. Janet was a close colleague and friend of my mother's, one of my first employers and a warm presence in my life from my childhood on.
When I was between ten and twelve, my mother, Lee Anne Willson, took me on a few trips to New England in conjunction with AAVSO meetings and other business. Visits to AAVSO were highlights of these East Coast travels. Some of the excitement for a kid from Iowa was in the surroundings: I recall vividly navigating the crooked Cambridge streets on lunchtime excursions to the submarine sandwich shop, and even more vividly the Halloween meeting in Salem, where I had the memorable luck to be bitten by the Salem witch's cat. But much of what I recall positively was how welcome I as a child felt at the meetings and AAVSO office. I remember variously "helping" to man the registration desk at the meetings and sitting in the back of the auditorium doodling cartoons inspired by the astronomical terminology in the talks. The people at AAVSO were always very friendly, greeting me like old friends or relatives and (Lee Anne reports) asking after me for years as if I were really part of the organization, or part of the family. Janet was the center of this family, its matriarch.
During my first two years of undergraduate study at Harvard, I worked intermittently at the AAVSO office, doing data entry and sundry odd jobs. It was always refreshing to take the half-hour walk up Concord Ave. to the AAVSO office and spend a few hours away from my campus-centered life. Janet was if anything too lenient in letting me choose my own schedule, and my time- management skills at age 17 and 18 were not what they ought to have been, so that I am afraid I was a very irregular worker. I was nonetheless grateful to Janet for giving an inexperienced, disorganized freshman a chance to work with grownups in an organization committed both to science and to people. I found AAVSO a warm, supportive environment with a family-like team of employees with different backgrounds and strengths. I was particularly impressed by the respect shown for the diverse interests and skills of the staff and guests. AAVSO was a safe space for people with unusual twists in their background; everyone was accepted on his or her own terms and encouraged to do his or her best. I see this as an extension of the philosophy underlying AAVSO's mission to help amateur astronomers contribute to the scientific enterprise overall and to collaborate with professionals as colleagues. The professional but open, non- judgemental atmosphere of AAVSO radiated especially from Janet, the backbone of the organization. Some years later, my brother also spent a few weeks volunteering at AAVSO, at a point in his life when he needed work experience and a chance to feel useful and to build his confidence. Again, Janet took in a young person in need of focus and helped him to become a responsible adult by taking him as one on faith.
Janet was my family in Cambridge, more like an aunt than a boss. She invited me home for Thanksgiving, fed me Turkish food, bought me baskets of kumquats at holidays, lent me tapes and took an interest in my life. I have always enjoyed telling people about AAVSO as a special organization and about the warm, energetic Turkish woman at its core. Janet Mattei was a very special person who has contributed to my life and, I am sure, to the lives of many others as a scientist, an administrator, a facilitator, a role model and a friend. She will long be remembered and missed.—Kendra Willson
The news about Janet's passing away makes me very sad. My thoughts are with you who lost a gread friend and leading spirit and, of course, with her husband.
I will never forget that famous Brussels AAVSO convention held in 1990 – what a great success Janet had moving the meeting of an organization like AAVSO over to Europe. This meeting made clear that AAVSO is not just an American organization as its name suggests – it truly became an essential part of the worldwide astronomical community already before the www era.
The efforts Janet has spent and the results of the AAVSO will be something future generations of observers always will remember.—Stefan Korth (Germany)
Janet Mattei became AAVSO's director just as I was beginning regular visual observation of variable stars. Several times thereafter, her enlightenments or encouragements by letter or telephone restored my drooping interest.
Numerous improvements in the organization's data intake and dissemination systems during her tenure, e.g. submission of observations via the Internet and many comparison chart upgrades, were enormously valuable to me and remain so. Although I never met her personally, I feel a great loss in her passing.—Philip C. Steffey
I already sent a short message of condolences and memories directed to the HQ staff -- you all must be beside yourselves.
I didn't mean to omit Mike, intending to write something later when I'd gathered my wits. Mike, I can only imagine how I would feel in your shoes. Such a vibrant presence.
Only now do I realize the kick start that Janet gave to my sense of professional standards and respect for the worth of what astronomers do (whether amateur or professional). It's more than that, though. In a strange way, Janet gave me a respect for any kind of office work, even the most mundane. She demanded concentration, organization, communication, and punctuality; if you didn't supply them, she let you know it in the kindest possible way, and all the more effectively because of this kindness. Her eyes could shoot sparks even when her words were soft. One had the sense that she was utterly trustworthy.
Janet was a more than worthy successor to Mr. Campbell and to Mrs. Mayall. Condolences to the Association and to all of Janet's friends.—Bob Hill
>I would request you all to do one thing tonight...make one observation of a variable star...a BRIGHT one, as Janet was, and dedicate it to her in your observing logs. This would be the greatest tribute to her that she could wish! —Mike Begbie (Zimbabwe)
I have just been informed about our lost of Janet Mattei. I am very struck for this sad news because I know how a kind and friendly person she has been since our first meeting in Cambridge some 20/25 years ago.
Not to say her strong contribution to science and to the effective collaboration between amateurs and astronomers. I am sure that we shall hear about her activity for long time in future. Certainly I shall remember her as she was during the meetings we attended together.—Roberto Viotti (Italy)
[Sent an online gift payment] This contribution doesn't come close to what Janet's friendship means to me, but no amount could. She was a very special person, and I will dearly miss her. —Steve Wolfe
My father was a meteorologist, a cloud physicist, a rain maker. After he died, I found it very comforting to imagine that I see him in the clouds, exploring first hand what he studied in life, and also enjoying the freedom to explore wherever he pleases. Sometimes I look up from my desk, see a cloud that appears to be someone waving to me, and I wave back and feel as though he were still there looking out for me.
For Janet, my comfort will come from imagining her journeys. She loved the stars, and I can picture her zipping off to look first-hand at what she studied here. Her first stop must be SS Cygni, 90 to 100 light years away. But who says souls need to be limited by relativity? I think she would traverse that great distance in a few days, and as she travels, she would be looking into the future of what we will observe, accumulating some 800 outbursts enroute. Then, she would have a chance to see how good (or bad) the models are, and stay to watch an outburst, perhaps, picking her vantage point for a good view.
After she visits her favorite cataclysmics, I picture her swinging by at least the closest, brightest Miras - Chi Cyg, Mira, and R Leo. She can check on our models, and I can imagine her doing so, wishing she could tell us what we got right and what we did not.
I can't picture her traveling among the stars forever, though, because a big piece of her passion is here on Earth. She must return, perhaps stopping first at Asteroid Mattei to look over the real estate there, but coming back here to where family, friends, observers and members are. In a few months, when the void she has left begins to feel less acute, we can imagine that this is because she is now here, visiting each of us, looking to see that we are all right and on track. When you are observing, or sending your observations in, or data mining some variable star archive, she may be looking over your shoulder. When we meet, she will be there, finding subtle ways to remind everyone of what needs to be done. On a clear night, when I look at the stars, I will know she is still with us, and will be as long as we remember her.—Lee Anne Willson
I only met Janet once, but was impressed by her openness and sincerity. She didn't treat amateurs as anything but real human beings. She definitely left an impression, and will be missed. My condolences to her family and friends. —Phil Kuebler
I am really surprised to hear Dr.Mattei's death.
It was 1990 when I met her for the first time at the AAVSO meeting held in Brussels Free University, Belgium. During that session, she talked to me warmly and friendly, we discussed about VS. This talk afforded me the most pleasing reminiscences in later year.
I would like to express my deeply sadness of her death and my sympathy to her bereaved family.
May her soul rest in Peace!—Hideo Sato (Japan)
I'll miss Janet's love, warmth and friendship: that short sentence in her own hand-writing at the end of an official AAVSO letter; her enthusiasm for variable star astronomy and personal attention to observers the world over.
It was wonderful to interact with her when she visited South Africa. Win Jones (JRW) and I treasure the wonderful afternoon that we spent with her in Fish Hoek during her last visit to Cape Town.
May Janet's husband and family receive all the strength that they will need to deal with her absence - my heart goes out to all of you while you are in my prayers.—Fanie de Villiers (DVI) (South Africa)
We, amateur astronomers group at Bhavnagar(India), highly grieved by sad demise of Respected Janet Mattei. It is graet loss to the whole Obsevational Observers Community. —Dr.S.P.Bhatnagar & Umesh Dodia (India)
I met Janet in 1969, a year before which she has been appointed as an assistant to the Department of Astronomy of Ege University. She was among four students which started our master of science education at the same time. Our friendship has improved more and more by the passing years. Her absence due to her leave for the USA beginning in 1971 did not prove any diminishing on our close friendship. She came to Izmir to visit her family without any interruption every year. Although she had very limited period of time during her visits, she always spent a day at Astronomy Department to see again her friends and the young assistants.
Being educated as a physicist, she first met with astronomy upon her appointment as an assistant at the department and taking post graduate courses from Prof. T. Swihart, Prof. H. Kienle and Prof. A. Kizilirmak. After comleting her post graduate studies, she went to the USA and started working at AAVSO. During her work through years she especially gave emphasis on the collaboration between amateur and professional astronomers and made extensive effort on encouraging the amateurs to obtain scientific data to contribute the science of astronomy. Finding solutions to the problems of amateurs throughout the world has almost been her main duty. She tried very hard supporting both amateurs and professionals to participate to almost every meeting. Although complaining about feeling herself tired most of the time, she continued her work without any interruption.
I also never forget Janet's scientific and social contributions on NATO Advanced Study Institutes which I have organized in 1989 and 1998. She played very important role on the progress of astronomy in Turkey. Her timeless demise caused both amateur and professional astronomers to felt themselves very sad. We will be always commemorating Janet with gratitude. —Cafer IBANOGLU (Turkey)
My deepest sympathies and condolences to Janet's family and friends. She was an inspiration to me personally as I'm sure was to many other amateurs. We will all miss her very much. —lKen Luedeke
A new variable star is shining in the sky: goodbye Janet —Sergio Foglia (Italy)
This is a tremendous loss for all amateur astronomers. I have been very sad since I received this bad news. We will miss DR. Janet Mattei. —Francisco Pujol (Spain)
Lamento informar que ha fallecido Janet Mattei, directora de la AAVSO, tras 7 meses de grave enfermedad. Llevaba m�s de 30 a�os como directora de la m�s importante sociedad de astronom�a amateur, con miembros de 40 pa�ses. Su labor ha sido ingente manteniendo m�s activa que nunca esta venerable asociacion fundada en 1911. Entre sus logros, la constante colaboraci�n amateurs-profesionales, informatizar una base de datos con cerca de 11 millones de mediciones de estrellas variables (el pasado a�o reunieron 440.000 observaciones visuales y CCD) y ser foco de referencia mundial en el estudio de las estrellas variables.
Nuestro �nimo a Elizabeth Waagen y su equipo, deseando que se sobrecogan de este dif�cil momento y que continuen la estela de esta brillante estrella ahora desaparecida.
Nuestro homenaje puede ser, desde nuestra modestia, colaborar m�s que nunca en la pasi�n por la observaci�n de las estrellas variables.
Janet A. Mattei
Mientras tanto, R Cas puede haber alcanzado el m�ximo brillo. El d�a 23 de Marzo se encontraba en la magnitud 5,9. No es f�cil observarla ya que debe hacerse a primera hora de la noche, cerca del horizonte.
Por su parte, U Monocerotis est� experimentando un r�pido ascenso de brillo, tras el profundo m�nimo de hace unas semanas y Z UMa tiene tendencia a iniciar el descenso tras un m�ximo moderado. —Xavier Bros (Spain)
I was deeply saddened to hear the news. I cannot imagine how you all must feel.
I have known Janet throughout my entire professional career. I sincerely regret that I only had the opportunity to work directly with her during the last very few years.
We will all be less because of her passing.
All of you associated with the AAVSO offices are in my thoughts. —Gordon Spear
I knew Janet about ten years ago during a trip in Boston with my wife. I remenber our arrival at the headquarter in the late friday afternoon. We have never seen her again since then but couldn't forget her warmful hospitality, her passion for the subject, what a wonderful person she was.
My condolences to her family and all her friends. —Riccardo Papini (Italy)
I am one of the teachers Janet helped during the last two years in the TOPS program. I am attaching a few of the photos I had of Janet as she worked with teachers...through them, her influence will be truly long lasting. My students and I thank her for the inspiration she provided. —Rosa Hemphill
Dr.Mattei's first and last visit to Japan was at the IAU General Assembry which was held at Kyoto on Aug. 1997. At that time, VSOLJ (Variable Star Observers League in Japan) invited Dr.Mattei, Professors Percy, Warner and Takeuchi as the speakers at the annual meeting in Dynic Astro Park near Kyoto. Dr.Mattei presented the lecture titled "Impact of Ground-Based Monitoring of Variable Observers" and gave us deep impression.
Dr.Mattei's first itinerary was to fly to Tokyo before IAU GA, but her flight was cancelled by accident. She flew directly to Kyoto. We, variable star observers in Tokyo districts were planning to have meeting with her at Guest House of National Astronomical Observatory (NAO). It was very much regretable not to meet her there.
On her way to States after IAU GA, she has free time only one half day on 3 Sept. 1997. I and my wife went to the Tokyo station to meet her from Kyoto by Shin-Kansen. After taking lunch buffet at Imperial Hotel, we stated to sightseeing of Tokyo. The Imperial Palace Garden, business center at Ohtemachi,Asakusa (the oldest temple in Tokyo surrounded by amusement center), department store at Nihonbashi. Site was selected by herself among some candidates to visit which I proposed. In the evening, we, joining Dr.Hideo Sato of NAO, invited her to dinner at Japanese restaurant. It was very hard schedule. She was always very busy! She showed many interest to everything. Especially, she appreciated Japanese flower, Japanese style tableware and Kimono for wedding.
I believe she enjoyed to visit Japan, I felt she is a pro-Japanese like as general Turkeys.
Japanese astronomers have lost the dearest leader and friend. —Seiich Sakuma (Japan)
I'm sending my deepest condolences to Mike, Janet's family and AAVSO HQ. —Jani Virtanen (Finland)
I can not express the great loss I feel of losing my friend. I met Janet in Hawaii at the TOPS workshop. Janet was always an open heart to all that she met. She was a mentor and great friend. She has inspired me to become involved not only in variable stars but also in the field of astronomy education. Her dedication to education was apparent by her enthusiasm for recruiting teachers as AAVSO members. She touched all of us in many ways. She encouraged and supported me when I needed her most. I will celebrate in the memory of my friend in my heart always. —Pebble Richwine
It's way too early to think about such things, but as my mind finally comes to grips with what has happened, I natuarally start turning thoughts of how to keep Janet's memory alive forever. I've seen a suggestion to name the HQ building the "Clint Ford and Janet Mattei Building" or some such, but that's awkward at best. My suggestion is simple: rename the AAVSO International Database as the "Dr. Janet A. Mattei International Database". Janet brought it from paper to punch cards to tape and now throught the current validation process to a new, accessible online form. She kept her vision of what the database should be; she staunchly defended its integrity against many who sought to alter it. It is our largest and finest product. What better place to remember her?
We can talk about it in July - we'll have to make an opportunity for a bit of an Irish wake for those of us more remote to remember her together. —Jim Bedient
We regret the dead of Janet. I med her in France on AFOEV conference a few years ago. We remember her and will continue the observations.. —Frans van Loo (Belgium)
Last Updated: July 1, 2010 - 10:43am