and physicist who devised a light-detecting system that can be attached
to telescopes, vastly improving their optical powers. His image photon-counting
system (IPCS) revolutionized observational astronomy, enabling Boksenberg
and others to study distant quasars.
Boksenberg studied at London University. He became professor of physics
1978 and director of the Royal Greenwich Observatory 1981.
In the early 1960s Boksenberg became interested in the instrumentation
carried aboard space vehicles, and in image-detecting systems. The
IPCS, rather than recording light with a photographic emulsion, uses
a television camera and a computer to detect and store the locations
of individual photons of light collected by a telescope from a faint
astronomical object, and to present the incoming results as an instantaneous
picture. Successfully tested 1973 at Mount Palomar, California, the
invention was subsequently installed on all modern telescopes.
Boksenberg also designed instruments for ultraviolet astronomy, for
use on high-altitude balloon-borne platforms and on satellites, particularly
the European observatory satellite TD-1A 1972 and the International
Ultraviolet Explorer (IUE) satellite observatory 1978.
Boksenberg's study of the absorption lines in the spectra of quasars
has shown that these are not a manifestation of the quasar itself
but a reflection of the state of the universe - galaxies and intergalactic
gas - that exists between the quasar and the Earth. They can thus
provide direct information on the nature and evolution of the universe.