Obituary: Pierre Cugnon, 1940-2004

It is with great sadness that we inform you of the sudden death of Pierre Cugnon on October 18, due to complications following heart surgery.
Pierre Cugnon was born on April 17, 1940, in Bertrix, a small city in the Belgian Ardennes. He conducted nearly his whole scientific career in the Solar Physics Department of the Royal Observatory of Belgium (ROB). After studies at the University of Liège, where he obtained his PhD in the field of interstellar polarization, he obtained a position in the Department in 1968. Working first on photometric and chromospheric observations from the Uccle station, he then developed a program of coronal polarimetry that led him to participate personally to 4 total solar eclipse expeditions from 1980 to 1998.  In 1990, Pierre played a key role in promoting the Belgian participation to the SOHO EIT instrument, allowing the ROB solar team to become, over the last decade, the prominent group that it is now in solar space research.

In 1994, Pierre Cugnon became simultaneously Head of the Department, as well as the Director of the Sunspot Index Data Center, SIDC, hosted by the ROB since 1981. Over the last decade, he spent most of his time and energy leading his team and services with dedication, leaving his personal imprint and vision. For instance, he developed, jointly with K. Denkmayr, the 'Combined Method' still used now to improve the sunspot index forecasts and he introduced a quality control for the SIDC data products. A major step was the addition to the SIDC of the European Regional Warning Center of the ISES, previously hosted by Paris-Meudon. Since then, this operational center has continuously expanded its services under a new name, 'Solar Influences Data analysis Center'. In the framework of those activities, Pierre Cugnon was also an active member of several committees and organizations (including IAU Commission 10, ISES, FAGS, URSI and the CRAF).

He will be also remembered for his rich culture and his humble, gentle and patient manner of interacting with colleagues and leading his team. Pierre Cugnon leaves a wife and two daughters.

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