In Remembrance: Brian Warner

10 May 2023

Dear colleagues and students

It is with profound sadness that we write to inform you of the passing of our colleague, Brian Warner (83), a senior scholar and Emeritus Distinguished Professor in the Department of Astronomy. He passed away at his home on Friday, 5 May 2023.

Professor Warner was one of the most distinguished astronomers in South Africa. His name is synonymous with astronomy at the University of Cape Town (UCT). When he arrived at UCT in 1972, he was the founding chair of astronomy in the then newly established Department of Astronomy. He brought high-speed photoelectric photometry. The introduction of this novel technique to South Africa at the time of the creation of the new Sutherland station of the South African Astronomical Observatory meant that the southern skies were now accessible for the study of high-time domain astrophysics. He remained chair and head of the department for 33 years until his retirement at the end of 2004, after which he continued serving as a senior scholar in the department.

He obtained his BSc in 1961 and PhD in 1964 from University College London. Over his long and remarkable academic career, Professor Warner received numerous honours and awards for his outstanding scholarship. He was an NRF A-rated researcher throughout his active research career.

Colleagues have described him as an all-round academic, an astrophysicist, a natural scientist, and a ‘Renaissance Man’ with a tremendous knowledge of natural history and classical music.

His lasting legacy in the development of high-time domain astrophysics is reflected in the broad range of impactful astronomical discoveries in high-time domain astrophysics with the Southern African Large Telescope and the Square Kilometre Array precursor telescope, MeerKAT – half a century after those first observations from Sutherland – by the next generations of astronomers he supervised and mentored.

Professor Warner is survived by his ex-wives Carol and Nan, children Dianne and Philip, grandchildren Savannah and Jessica, and great grandchildren Harvey and Emily.

We convey our heartfelt condolences to Professor Warner’s family, to whom we have reached out to offer our support in this period of grief. We also convey our condolences to his colleagues, friends and all who knew or worked with him at UCT.


The UCT Executive

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