Frank Wilsenham Hyde (1909-1984): Radio astronomer extraordinaire!

Frank Wilsenham Hyde (Figure 1) was born in Rochford, near Southend-on-Sea, on 1909 March 10. As a young man he became interested in electronics and in his twenties he began to dabble with radio astronomy from his back garden, even before the start of World War II. His early interest was inspired by hearing about the pioneering work of Karl Jansky in 1932, and also that of Grote Reber.
After the war ended, in 1945, Hyde’s interest in the subject resumed. At that time he worked for the electronics company Crompton-Parkinson at their Writtle Road site in Chelmsford. With the technological advances in electronics made during the war years, there was a growing interest in carrying out radio astronomy after the conflict had ended and Hyde was at the forefront of the amateur effort, while the names of Bernard Lovell, Martin Ryle, Anthony Hewish and a few others spearheaded the professional approach.
In the first ten or so years after World War II Hyde carried out radio astronomy from the back garden of his Clacton home at 27 Carlton Road (Figure 2). However, he had much bigger plans, and wanted to set up a large interferometer (superposing waves from multiple aerials) working at 27MHz as well as using his smaller 240MHz aerials. The lower frequency meant a longer wavelength and far more space than a back garden could provide, especially when an interferometer was planned. He also wanted to move further away from the sources of interference experienced in a normal street of houses. So, in the late 1950s Hyde started laying his antennae out on deserted marshland at nearby St Osyth, using his caravan as a control room and achieving baselines (aerial separation) of 1,000 feet (305m)…. (continued)

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