Memorial set for deceased physics and astronomy professor

Yolanda Becerra

A memorial gathering for Stephen Walton, 50, CSUN professor of physics and astronomy, will take place at CSUN’s Donald E. Bianchi Planetarium on Wednesday, Dec. 20 at 3:30 p.m.

Walton, the oldest of seven children, was diagnosed with Cancer in 2003. He died Nov. 11, 2006 at his home in Lancaster, Calif.

Always an overachiever, Walton was valedictorian of his high school and the winner of both a National Merit Scholarship and a National Science Foundation Scholarship.

In 1987, Walton joined CSUN’s faculty in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and provided many contributions to the program over the years.

Walton taught astronomy courses, supervised research by master’s degree students, presented planetarium shows for various campus groups, and ran the astronomy competition at the Los Angeles County Science Olympiad. He was also director of CSUN’s Donald E. Bianchi Planetarium.

Walton’s obituary acknowledged that his research interests were in problems of solar magnetic activity and the connection of this to variations in solar irradiance on the Earth. He was an author of numerous research papers on solar physics, solar instrumentation, and digital image acquisition and processing. He was the department’s resident expert on information technology. In 2005, he was appointed director of the San Fernando Observatory, a major solar installation operated by CSUN.

Gary Chapman, director of the San Fernando Observatory, said, “What I remember most about Steve is his good humor and his laugh. He was always willing to take on new tasks and to help others, both colleagues and students. We were friends, I like to think, although not close friends since I was sort of in a managerial position during much of our time together.”

Chapman said Walton was able to interact in a positive way with almost everyone he came into contact with and that he will certainly be missed by the San Fernando Observatory staff as well as colleagues in the Department of Physics and Astronomy.

Beyond his interest in science, Walton also participated in a theater group at Caltech, and being a former Boy Scout himself, Walton also participated in scouting with his sons and was an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronism.

He is survived by his wife, Pamela, their four sons, Nicholas, Ross, Christopher and Alexander, his parents, three brothers, three sisters, and 17 nieces and nephews.