UCL Campaign


UCL Astronomy Undergraduates Reunite After 50 Years

UCL's astronomy undergraduates from the 1960s celebrate their 50-year reunion.

UCL Astronomy Class of 1960

A 50th anniversary reunion of astronomy undergraduates from those heady days in the late 1960’s was held in September together with two of their lecturers, Drs Bill Somerville and Derek McNally who are still active academically. 

During a day of talks, anecdotes and reminiscences, it was fascinating to hear what everyone has been up to over the past five decades. Although several have had illustrious careers as professional astronomers, others worked in teaching, information science, computing and accountancy. Several who did not pursue careers in science nonetheless returned to their love of astronomy in retirement. One builds robotically-operated telescopes which he installs overseas and operates from his home in Nottinghamshire. Another wrote a highly-acclaimed biography of the famous 17th century astronomer Kepler. All paid tribute to the inspiration they received during their time at UCL. 

Astronomy has featured prominently at UCL since the observatory at Mill Hill was established in 1928 and the Perren Chair of Astronomy was funded in 1951. Initially, the subject had its own department before merging with Physics in 1972. 

Thank you to Richard Ellis ((Astronomy 1968-71) and now Professor of Astrophysics (2015-)) for sharing the above summary and a photo of the day!

Photo: Back Row(L-R): Ken Phillips (1964), Dave Carnochan (1966), Richard Swifte (1968) 
Middle Row (L to R): Jan Rek (1969), David Love (1968), Phil Charles (1969), Patricia Whitelock (1969), Mike Collins (1968), Howard Huckle (1968)
Front Row (L to R): Richard Ellis (1968), Bill Somerville, Derek McNally, Margaret Thompson (1967), Susan French (1968), Keith Mason (1969)