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James Stanley Hey

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Name  James Hey

Died  February 27, 2000
James Stanley Hey wwwpurbeckradarorgukbiographythumbnailsheys
Books  The evolution of radio astronomy, The radio universe, The Secret Man

OTD in Space – February 27: J.S. Hey Discovers Radio Emissions From the Sun

James Stanley Hey FRS (3 May 1909 – 27 February 2000) was an English physicist and radio astronomer. With the targeted application of radar technology for astronomical research, he laid the basis for the development of radio astronomy . He discovered that the Sun radiates radio waves and localized for the first time an extragalactic radio source in the constellation Cygnus .



He was born in 1909 in Nelson, Lancashire, the third son of a cotton manufacturer, which was the main industry in Lancashire. Hey studied physics at the University of Manchester, graduating in 1930, and obtained his master's degree in X-ray crystallography the next year. His wife, Edna Heywood, was a fellow student there. He was then a teacher of physics in a northern grammar school for some years. In 1942 Hey joined the Army Operational Research Group (AORG) after a 6-week course at the Army Radio School. His task was to work on radar anti-jamming methods; for a year German jamming of Allied radar had been a problem and the escape of two German warships (Scharnhorst and Gneisenau) through the English Channel, aided by enemy radar jamming from the French Coast, had highlighted the problem. In February 1942 Hey had reports of severe noise jamming of anti-aircraft radars in the 4–8 m range. Realizing that the direction of maximum interference seemed to follow the Sun, he checked with the Royal Observatory and found that a very active sunspot was traversing the solar disc. He concluded that a sunspot region, which was believed to emit streams of energetic ions and electrons in magnetic fields of around 100 G (gauss), could emit metre-wave radiation. In 1942, G.C. Southworth in the USA also linked the Sun with radio noise, this time in the centimetre-wave region.

Later, in 1945, Hey used radar to track the paths of V-2 rockets approaching London at about 100 miles high. A problem here arose from spasmodic transient radar echoes at heights of about 60 miles, arriving at a rate of five to 10 per hour. When the V-2 attacks ceased, the echoes did not; Hey concluded that meteor trails were responsible and that radar could be used to track meteor streams, and could of course do so by day as well as by night.

Hey’s results of 1942 could not be published until after the war.

Hey became Head of the AORG in 1949. He then worked as a researcher at the Royal Radar Establishment at Malvern, where he also continued his radio astronomical observations. From 1966 until his retirement in 1969 he was head of the research department.


  • 1959 – Eddington Medal
  • Fellow of the Royal Society
  • 1977 – Honorary Doctor of the University of Kent
  • Asteroid (22473) StanleyHey is named in his honour
  • Publications by Hey

  • Hey, J. S. (1946). "Solar Radiations in the 4–6 Metre Radio Wave-Length Band". Nature. 157 (3976): 47–48. Bibcode:1946Natur.157...47H. doi:10.1038/157047b0. 
  • Hey, J. S.; Stewart, G. S. (1946). "Derivation of Meteor Stream Radiants by Radio Reflexion Methods". Nature. 158 (4014): 481. Bibcode:1946Natur.158..481H. doi:10.1038/158481a0. 
  • Hey, J. S.; Stewart, G. S. (1947). "Radar observations of meteors". Proceedings of the Physical Society. 59 (5): 858. Bibcode:1947PPS....59..858H. doi:10.1088/0959-5309/59/5/312. 
  • Hey, J. S.; Parsons, S. J.; Stewart, G. S. "Radio observations of the Giacobinid Meteor shower, 1946". Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. 107: 176–183. Bibcode:1947MNRAS.107..176H. doi:10.1093/mnras/107.2.176. 
  • Popular science books

  • The Radio Universe, first edition 1971
  • Evolution of Radio Astronomy in the series Histories of Science, 1972
  • References

    James Stanley Hey Wikipedia

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