Brian May to participate in two nights of astronomical observations in La Palma

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Guitarist and song-writer Brian May will carry out astronomical observations on 23 and 24 of July using the Telescopio Nacional Galileo (TNG), located in the Observatory of the Roque de Los Muchachos on the island of La Palma.

May, who completed a major part of his PhD studies in the Institute of Astrophysics of the Canary Islands (IAC), will carry out spectroscopic observations in order to study the formation of the zodiacal dust cloud.  The tiny particles of this interstellar dust reflect sunlight and produce a visible spectrum which can be detected in skies which are very dark and free from light contamination.  The quality of the sky of La Palma and the benefits of the TNG have convinced May to choose the island as the key place for his investigations.  The TNG is a 3.6 m optical telescope which allows astronomers to study extremely faint objects.

The composer and astrophysicist will arrive in La Palma next Sunday and will stay until Wednesday to carry out the observations in collaboration with Dr Garik Israelian, astrophysicist at the IAC. 

It has been 36 years since Brian May made his astronomical observations  at the Observatorio del Teide, in Tenerife.  Shortly after that, however, Brian interrupted  his doctoral thesis in order to form the now legendary rock band Queen, where he was author of such memorable songs as “We Rock You” and “The Show Must Go On”. The artist has now renewed his passion for Astronomy and within two weeks will present his doctoral thesis in “Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud” at Imperial College, London.

Dr Israelian comments, “I have no doubt that Brian May would have had a brilliant career in science had he completed his PhD in 1971.  Nevertheless, as a fan of Queen, I am glad that he left Science temporarily!”.  Brian May has recently published a book on Astronomy titled BANG! The Complete History of the Universe (published by Carlton Books) together with Sir Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott, who present the scientific program The Sky at Night for the BBC.  According to May, this book’s intention is “to inform, to stimulate, to entertain, and hopefully to provide inspiration for a new generation of potential astronomers”.  Dr Garik Israelian has acted as an adviser for this book.

Brian May and his colleague Garik Israelian were present at the ceremony of First Light of the Gran Telescopio Canarias, that took place July 13th in the Observatory of the Roque de Los Muchachos.  They are preparing a concert to celebrate the occasion of the inauguration of the GTC, which is anticipated within a year.

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