Brian May to be Patron of Herschel Museum of Astronomy in Bath

Brian May
Brian May of rock group Queen performs during the VH1 Rock Honors concert in Las Vegas on Thursday, May 25, 2006. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

10 December 2013 by Paulwiltshire

Queen guitarist Brian May has agreed to become the new patron of Bath’s Herschel Museum of Astronomy.

The fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society will step into the role left vacant by the death of Britain’s best-known stargazer, Sir Patrick Moore, last year.

The rock star, songwriter, producer and animal rights campaigner put his interest in astrophysics on hold as Queen became a global success. Thirty years later he completed his PhD at Imperial College, London in 2007, a year after he had co-authored his first book, Bang! The Complete History of the Universe, with Sir Patrick and Dr Chris Lintott. The illustrated astrophysics book, was followed last year by the release of a sequel, The Cosmic Tourist.

Dr May was a friend and colleague of Sir Patrick, the man he credited with igniting his love of astronomy.

He said: “In common with everyone of my generation who took up astronomy as a hobby or as a profession, I was inspired as a boy, by Sir Patrick on The Sky At Night – on the TV just at the time I was supposed to go to bed! The inspiration lasted my whole life.”

The museum in New King Street is based in the house where William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus in 1781 and where he and his sister Caroline lived from 1777 to 1782.

Curator Debbie James said they were delighted that May accepted their invitation: “His knowledge of astrophysics and gift for inspiring enthusiasm for astronomy in others make him the perfect ambassador for the museum. William Herschel came to England as a professional musician and then fell in love with astronomy, so Brian May continues the link between music and the stars. We couldn’t think of anyone better suited for the role.”

Dr May added: “I’m honoured to follow in the footsteps of Sir Patrick, as patron of the Herschel Museum. Patrick had a great affection for the museum, and I think he felt an affinity for Herschel himself, a man who, like Sir Patrick, devoted his whole life to science. It’s an inspiring place, giving a first-hand glimpse into the life of one of the world’s finest astronomers, and a reminder that the dedication of one man can change the perception of the whole world. I hope to be a good patron, and an ambassador for this important part of Britain’s scientific heritage.”