Horst Künzel (1921-2013)

30. September 2013. Horst Künzel died aged 92 on 2013 September 20. His professional and scientific career was exceptional.

In 1937, he began an apprenticeship in precision mechanics at the Astrophysical Observatory Potsdam. In 1947, he received the title master craftsman, and only two years later he became the head of the examination board for master craftsmen. Even without a formal academic education and degree, Künzel was held in high esteem, also internationaly, as an instrument builder, solar observer, and researcher.

For almost 50 years, Künzel dedicated his scientific life to the research of sunspots and the structure of their magnetic fields. Besides numerous, detailed statistical studies, he also coined the term "delta-spot", an extension of George Ellery Hale's magnetic classification of sunpsots. Delta-spots are often associated with flares on the Sun. These eruptive events are highly energetic and can even influence the Earth and near-Earth environment, and cause for example polar lights. Today, delta-spots are still an important topic of solar research because of the interaction of solar plasma with strong magnetic fields.