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Guildford Astronomical Society

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Speaker - Mike Maunder (GAS member)

Sent in by Mike Maunder.

Mike Maunder - GAS member Michael jumping for joy after seeing a rare event - a total eclipse of the sun at a disused fort, on the hill above his home on Alderney, Channel Islands

M ichael Maunder describes himself as a Forensic Chemist, CSI style, by profession, but an astronomer by inclination. Even way back in 1957 when leaving school [Whitgift Middle, now Trinity, that's become the Whitgift Shopping Centre in Croydon] he knew that employment opportunities in astronomy were bleak. So nothing changes, then, in last half century, and chemistry beckoned.

The JAS Group that evolved into today's Croydon Astronomical Society had its telescope on Lower Field of the School [where Boots is now!]. That's when Michael first met Patrick Moore when he opened the Observatory a year or so before his TV Series started. The beginning of a long friendship and continued astronomy passion.

Whilst on holiday with a school friend's family in Perranporth in 1957 they 'supped' on real ale and went for a walk on the beach in the dark. Michael saw a fuzzy patch and sobered up enough to recognise it as a comet after the Arend Roland earlier in the year when 'Sky @ Night' started. A letter was sent to Herstmonceux. A delightful reply was received from Dr JG (Guy) Porter, the chap who did the Radio programmes that evolved into S@N, who was the Computing Guru. The encouragement Michael received for being "Just 2 days late in discovering Comet Mrkos", cemented another lasting friendship. Guy was the founder Editor with Patrick on the Famous Yearbooks.

Michael quotes these two tales in detail because it helps explain the continuing passion for astronomy, but is more likely the reason for supporting real ale drinking, in the hope of discovering another comet. More seriously, why he's such a strong supporter of the seeing eye, better known as 'The Mk1 Eyeball'. "Keep an eye on the sky, not the ground" is his astronomy motto.

As a committed 'Umbraphile' Michael has seen nearly 20 total eclipses and only missed 3 through bad weather, and main night astronomy is meteor photography, when not actively viewing. He's written uncounted astronomy articles, given lectures and written 3 books on the topic, as well as one on forensic Infra-red for drug detection. He still runs Speedibrews manufacturing photographic 'Rocket Fuel' developers.

Yes, Speedibrews did start in wine making....

Date Talk at GAS meeting
7 Apr 2011 Atmospheric Phenomena

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