A bit About me...

I have been dead keen on astronomy, especially stellar astronomy, virtually all my life. I live in a small Norfolk village without street lights, so can normally see quite faint stars (magnitude 16 - 17 on a good night for the astronomical among you.) I am a member of the AAVSO (American Association of Variable Star Observers) and have made about 40,000 observations for them as well as having received numerous observational certificates.
My main interest in astronomy is 'young' variable stars. I recorded the faintest-ever minimum of the forming star V730 Cephei at magnitude 15.7 though I also observe Mira stars (long-period variables) and Dwarf Novae such as Z Cam, SS Cyg etc. I have had several scientific papers published in the field and have given talks to both amateur and professional groups, and have run the AAVSO's Young Stellar Objects group for a few years.

I have a wide range of other interests, including Art and poetry, being especially fond of the mythological works of Tolkien (he was also interested in astronomy!) and the Romantic poets, above all William Blake, a man even now far in advance of his time (my son William is named after him - or William Herschel possibly).

I am a former teacher of calligraphy and used to work as a writer in the media. I still like writing, and anything to do with languages. One of my interests - ever since about the age of 12 - has been inventing languages, an activity known to the cognoscenti as conlanging (that's actually how I became interested in Tolkien, rather than the other way round). There is one main language called Omina with what's known as an ergative grammar, and further additions to the site will enable you to learn it for yourself if you're the sort that doesn't get out much! French and German, it isn't.

I have participated in several scientific missions, including:

  • The ESA's HIPPARCOS mission
  • Johns Hopkins University Astro-2 mission
  • NASA's Extreme Ultraviolet Explorer(EUVE) satellite

At the moment I have just finished a project working for the ESA and NASA to aid in the search for extrasolar planets and for about the last year have been producing an e-newsletter for the AAVSO YSO section which I run. This goes to both amateur and professional astronomers all over the world. Back on Earth, I have always been a football fan. I used to play it too, but since an achilles tendon injury in 2001 followed by a pulled hamstring two years later, I've kinda got the message that maybe I should just watch the game instead. Shame. As I write this, my team (Tottenham) have a beautiful new stadium next to dear old White Hart Lane.
Come on you Spurs!!

I also try and develop my knowledge of programming in Visual Basic, having just produced a program called Alien Skies that depicts the "constellations" as they would appear from any star you pick. I've also written an app for windows which allows me to bring up any chart I have for a given variable star, record the estimate (time and date is filled in automatically), send the observations to an inbuilt database and at the end of the session send off the report to the AAVSO, formatted according to their parameters.

Anyway, when the rest of this site is done, you'll be able to look at the other sections on Tolkien, Languages, and see some of my wildlife pictures as well as (hopefully) photos from the Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. I'm something of a Big Island bore, so prepare yourselves. Until then, just click this 'ere link to go back to the home page (or of course use the "Back" icon of your browser) or this one to find out more about my telescope and observatory.