Prof. John Brown

1947 - 2019

Astronomer Royal for Scotland. Born in modest circumstances in Dumbarton, the son of an engineer, Brown was educated at Dumbarton Academy. He gained an interest in astronomy at an early age and began building telescopes as a youth. He read physics & astronomy at the University of Glasgow, continuing to complete his PhD in solar plasma physics in 1973. He gained the post of lecturer in Glasgow in 1970 and rose to become Regius Professor of Astronomy in 1996. He also held honorary professorships at the University of Edinburgh and the University of Aberdeen.

Appointed Astronomer Royal for Scotland in 1995, he popularised the science of astronomy around Scotland. He was also a credible magician, noted for using magic tricks to enhance his explanations. He often visiting remote communities to inspire them with the latest research on the universe. Brown was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1984, awarded the Gold Medal of the Royal Astronomical Society (2012) and an OBE for services to the promotion of astronomy and science education (2016).

In addition to many scientific papers, he also published a book in Scots 'Oor Big Braw Cosmos' (2019), jointly written with the poet Rab Wilson.

Brown died at his home on the Isle of Skye.

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