ESA's Hipparcos project scientist to give George Darwin lecture
10 May 1999This year's UK Royal Astronomical Society George Darwin Lecture will be given by Dr Michael Perryman, Astrophysics Division, ESTEC, on 'A Stereoscopic View of our Galaxy'. On Friday 14 May, the Royal Astronomical Society will hold their 179th Annual General Meeting at the Scientific Societies Lecture Theatre, in Savile Row, London. The annual George Darwin Lecture, established in 1927, covers all fields of astronomy excluding planetary science, and preference is given to a lecturer normally resident outside the UK.
This year's lecturer is Dr Michael Perryman, from ESA's Space Science Department, known for his work as Hipparcos Project Scientist between 1981 and 1997. He will talk on the scientific results from the Hipparcos mission, and will use a series of novel three-dimensional stereo images of star fields to illustrate his talk.
Sir George Darwin, an astronomer, and the second son of the eminent biologist Charles Darwin, was Plumian professor of astronomy and experimental philosophy at Cambridge University, and became president of the Royal Astronomical Society exactly 100 years ago. Perryman follows in the footsteps of a number of distinguished George Darwin Lecturers, including Hertzsprung (1929), de Sitter (1931), Hubble (1952), Chandrasekhar (1953), Hoyle (1968), Schwarzschild (1969), and Rees (1976).
This recognition of an ESA scientist underlines the international acclaim that greeted the Hipparcos Catalogue on its publication in 1997. The Hipparcos satellite, operated in orbit between 1989-93, was dedicated to the highly accurate measurement of stellar positions and distances. The availability of this large high-accuracy data base of fundamental stellar parameters has provided a stereoscopic view of stars in our local Solar neighbourhood, and has allowed considerable progress to be made in many areas of stellar structure and Galactic evolution.
ESA's Hipparcos project team, under Franco Emiliani, Hamid Hassan, and Perryman for the operational phase, worked in collaboration with Matra Marconi Space, Alenia Aerospazio, and a number of other European industries to design and build the Hipparcos satellite. It was launched in August 1989 by Ariane 4 flight V33, and operated by ESOC under the responsibility of the Operations Manager, Dietmar Heger. Production of the Hipparcos and Tycho Catalogues was an enormous undertaking by the European scientific community, with the involvement of more than 100 scientists.