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Winifred Cameron

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Winifred Cameron Obituary
In Loving Memory of

Winifred Sawtell Cameron

Died March 29, 2016

Wini Cameron of Lehigh Acres, Florida, passed away on March 29th. She was preceded in death by her husband, Dr. Robert Cameron and is survived by her daughters Sheri Katz, and Selene Green (Richard) and grandchildren Cameron, Carina, and Colin Green and Joey, Rebecca Moon, James, and Ryan Katz.

Among her numerous accomplishments, Wini Cameron was one of the first 3 female astronomers at NASA in 1959. Since her field of study was the moon, she ended up being the astronomer on duty at Cape Canaveral for Mercury astronaut John Glenn's historic flight as the first American in orbit, and for Scott Carpenter's second orbital flight. She worked at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD until her retirement in 1984.

Before working at NASA she received a teaching degree from NIU (from which she was later awarded their Distinguished Alumnus Award); became Assistant Astronomer at Weather Forecasts, Inc. in Chicago; taught Astronomy at Mt. Holyoke College; and, after receiving her Masters in Astronomy at Indiana University, worked for the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington analyzing sunspots, taking time out to have her first daughter, Selene, named after the Greek goddess of the moon.

The following year, her astronomer husband, Dr. Robert C. Cameron, was one of eight astronomers selected by the Smithsonian to build and man a tracking station in Johannesburg, South Africa that could track the first American satellite, Explorer I. While there, Wini gave birth to a second daughter, Sheri Carina, named after the constellation Carina, which is only visible from the southern hemisphere.

After returning from South Africa, both astronomers were immediately hired by the newly-formed NASA and started at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD as soon as it opened. They were the only astronomer couple in NASA at that time. Wini's work was in Manned Space Flight, which was why she ended up being the astronomer on duty for John Glenn's and Scott Carpenter's flights. Wini was also on the team responsible for selecting safe landing spots for the Apollo missions. Wini's main field of study and her passion in life was the moon, and she ended her career compiling the largest database of LTP, Lunar Transient Phenomena, ever published. It is still used as the premier resource in that field of study.

Wini retired from NASA in 1984 and devoted her later years to her 7 grandchildren, her horse and pets, her world travels, her bowling league, her many clubs and organizations in Sedona, Arizona, and her continuing astronomy-related work on LTP. She was a popular speaker and ambassador for astronomy, especially women in astronomy.

A memorial service will take place at the Calusa Nature Center & Planetarium, 3450 Ortiz Avenue, Fort Myers, on Sat., April 23rd at 5 PM.

In lieu of flowers, donations to the Humane Society are appreciated (www.myhumane.org; search "Selene Green" for Wini Cameron Memorial).
Published in The News-Press on Apr. 19, 2016
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