Former Mirror columnist Miroslav (Mirek) J. Plavec passed away peacefully in his sleep on January 23. He was 82.
A longtime resident of Pacific Palisades, where he raised his two children and was known in recent years on his street as the kind old man in the window, Dr. Plavec was Professor Emeritus of Astronomy at UCLA. After retirement, he wrote “Starry Skies Above Santa Monica,” to share
his love and knowledge of astronomy with Mirror readers.
He was born in Sedlcany, a small town in the central region of Bohemia, in Czechoslovakia, on October 7, 1925. Dr. Plavec received a Doctorate in Astronomy from Charles University in Prague. After the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968, he moved his family to the United States, where he continued his research as well as teaching astronomy at UCLA for over 25 years. He was the author of several books on binary stars.
Dr. Plavec received numerous awards over the years, and achieved international recognition in his field, most recently being honored during the summer of 2006 when the 240th proceedings of the International Astronomical Union (IAU) was dedicated in his honor. He loved teaching both undergraduate students about the stars as well as the more serious students of astrophysics, and will be sorely missed.
He is survived by his wife of 57 years, Zdenka, also retired from UCLA, his brother Jaroslav, his daughter Dr. Helena Kirkpatrick (Ted), son Jirka “George” Plavec, vice president of a local firm (Virginia), and four grandchildren, Andrea and Paul Kirkpatrick (of South Carolina), and Jimmy and Johnny Plavec (of Pacific Palisades).
Funeral arrangements by Gates, Kingsley & Gates Moeller Murphy, 310.395.9988, with memorial services planned for late March.
Please see page 24 to read one of Dr. Plavec’s columns from February 2000.