John Donovan Strong, an astronomer who was a professor at Johns Hopkins University before moving to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, died of cancer Saturday at a nursing home in Amherst. He was 87.
A Mass of Christian burial for Dr. Strong will be offered at 11 a.m. tomorrow at St. Brigid's Roman Catholic Church in Amherst.
He retired from the University of Massachusetts in 1975, when he was named a professor emeritus. He had been director of the Laboratory of Astrophysics and Physical Meteorology there since 1967.
From 1945 to 1967, he was a professor and laboratory director at Hopkins.
Among his innovations in astronomy and optics were a process for silvering mirrors in astronomical telescopes, including the 200-inch mirror at Mount Palomar Observatory in California, and an optical telescope system for an observatory lifted into the stratosphere by a balloon. It found water vapor in the atmosphere of Venus.
He was awarded the Longstreth and Levy medals of the Franklin Institute and the Ives Medal of the Optical Society of America, of which he had served as president.
Born in Riverdale, Kan., he was a 1926 graduate of the University of Kansas. He earned his doctorate in 1930 from the University of Michigan.
He is survived by his wife, the former Bethany June McLaughlin; two daughters, Patricia Sheppard of Vinalhaven, Maine, and Virginia Kimball of Westford, Mass.; 12 grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.