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Evans, John Wainright

Born New York, New York, USA, 14 May 1909

Died Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, 31 October 1999


John Wainwright Evans was born in New York City on 14 May 1909. He died at home in Santa Fe, New Mexico on 31 October 1999.   He received a Bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Swarthmore College in 1932. From Harvard he received a Master’s degree in astronomy in 1936 and a Doctorate in astronomy in 1938.  Bart Bok was his PhD thesis advisor. He was first director of the Sacramento Peak Observatory, which he built into a world class solar observatory. From 1938 to 1942 he was an instructor and assistant professor of mathematics and astronomy at Mills College, Oakland, California, where he also worked at the Chabot Observatory. It was at this time that he independently invented the birefringent filter, which had already been invented by Bernard Lyot and Yngve Ohman.


Evans worked at the Institute of Optics of the University of Rochester from 1942–1946, where he developed