Professor Yurii Naumovich Lipsky oversaw the preparation of the first ever maps of the far side of the Moon, of the whole Moon, and cartographic globes of the Moon. He was a professor, a doctor of physico-mathematical sciences, the founder of the Department of Lunar and Planetary Physics in GAISh and its first head.
Yu. N. Lipsky was born on the 22nd November 1909 in the village of Dubrovino in the Goretskii region of Belorus. After completing school in 1925 he worked for several years as an electrician in a railway carriage repair depot. In 1932, he was sent on a preparatory course, and in 1933, he was accepted into the first-year course of the physics faculty of Moscow State University. In 1938 he became a post-graduate in the department of astrophysics, and carried out his research under the supervision of Academic V. G. Fesenkov. After completing his post-graduate study in 1941, he was made head of the GAISh Kuchinskoi Astrophysical Observatory.
From February 1942, Yu. N. Lipsky served actively in the army, where he was three times wounded and once shell-shocked, and awarded four battle honours and medals. In September 1945, he was demobilised at the rank of Guards Major.
After his return to GAISh in Moscow State University, Yu. N. Lipsky worked as an assistant, a senior scientific associate, and head of the Photometric and Spectroscopic Laboratory (1953-64). In 1948, he defended his candidate's thesis on "The evaluation of the mass of the lunar atmosphere according to polarisation studies of its surface". In 1963 he was awarded the title Doctor of Physico-mathematical Sciences. On the formation of the Department of Lunar and Planetary Physics, Yu. N. Lipsky became its head (1964).
Yu. N. Lipsky's scientific interests were very wide: from astrophysical research of the Sun and planets to the development of new methods for studying the bodies of the Solar System with space technology. He devised new spectrophotometric and polarisation methods which permitted many effects connected with the light polarisation of the lunar surface and solar corona to be understood.
In the year of International Geophysics (1958), Yu. N. Lipsky and his colleagues carried out research on the spectral polarisation characteristics of the daytime and twilight sky.
In 1964, the electronic polarimeter constructed by Yu. N. Lipsky and his post-graduate student, M. M. Pospergelis, was first used, permitting measurement of the full flux Stokes vector. Using this instrument, the elliptical polarisation of lunar details was carried out, as well as of the cloud layers of Jupiter and Saturn.
A significant part of Yu. N. Lipsky's scientific activity was connected with the start of research of bodies of the Solar System, especially the Moon, using spacecraft. He was the scientific supervisor of the study of the first photographs of the far side of the Moon. In 1960, he developed and employed an original method for decoding the images sent back to the Earth by the automatic interplanetary station Luna-3 (1959). The results of this research were published in the Atlas of the Lunar Farside (1960). The work was continued after further photographic materials were obtained from the automatic stations Zond-3 (1965), and Zond-6,7,8 (1968-70).
Between 1967 and 77, Yu. N. Lipsky oversaw the production of the second and third parts of the Atlas of the Lunar Farside, the first Complete Map of the Moon and complete cartographic globe, as well as several improved version of these publications at different scales.
From 1977 to 78, he carried out a complex of studies on the morphometry of the Moon, Mercury, and Mars, the results of which were published as catalogues of craters and maps of the crater density distributions on the planets' surfaces.
In all, he published over 100 works. He trained a series of young specialists, who continued and developed the research he began of the Moon and planets.
Yu. N. Lipsky died on 24th January 1978. By a decision of the International Astronomical Union, the crater located in the very centre of the lunar farside was named in his honour.
V. V. Shevchenko