Finding Aid to the Papers of John W. Findlay. John Wilson Findlay joined the staff of the National Radio Astronomy Observatory (NRAO) on 27 December 1956 as employee number 5, and, with the exception of a one-year appointment as Director of Arecibo Observatory during 1965-1966, served the NRAO in various capacities until his retirement in 1985. After retirement he continued as a consultant to NRAO until his death in 1994.
NRAO was formally founded in November 1956, and Findlay played a major role in NRAO's the planning and development. He started the Electronics Division, and later served as Deputy Director and as Assistant Director for NRAO's Green Bank, WV, facility. He led NRAO's efforts in the design of new antennas. He planned and supervised the design and fabrication of the 300 foot telescope in Green Bank and the 36-foot millimeter telescope on Kitt Peak near Tucson, AZ, as well as the upgrading of the 36-foot to a 12-meter configuration. He was the leader of the technical group responsible for the design and construction of the 28 Very Large Array antennas. During the 1960s he led a small team investigating the design of the Largest Feasible Steerable Telescope, and later led the groups designing the 65-meter and 25-meter millimeter telescopes. One of Findlay's best-know research contributions to astronomy was his effort over a long period of time to establish an absolute calibration at 21 cm, for which he constructed in Green Bank the calibration horn antenna, known as Little Big Horn, and which he used for observations over a number of years.
Throughout his career Findlay was involved in the international effort to protect radio astronomy frequencies from interference. He was a long-time member of the U.S. Committee on Radio Frequencies (CORF) and the IAU-URSI-COSPAR Inter-Union Committee on the Allocation of Frequencies (IUCAF), chairing CORF from 1970-1973 and IUCAF from 1981-1988. From 1961-1973 he was a member of the National Academy of Sciences Space Science Board, and from 1963-1973 chaired the Space Science Board Committee on Potential Contamination and Interference from Space Experiments. He was International Secretary of URSI Commission V from 1960-1975, and a member of the URSI US National Committee from 1966-1972.
From 1967-1972 Findlay was Chair of the NASA Lunar and Planetary Missions Board which advised on the planning and conduct of all missions to the Moon and planets, including the manned Apollo missions to the Moon.
Materials in the collection cover the period 1956-1990, and include lab notebooks, reports, correspondence and memos related to all his activities with NRAO, as well as materials related to his work with CORF, IUCAF, URSI, the Space Science Board, and the Lunar and Planetary Missions Board.