David Hughes (astronomer)
David W. Hughes (born 7 November 1941) was a professor of astronomy at the University of Sheffield, where he worked since 1965. Hughes has published over 200 research papers on asteroids, comets, meteorites and meteoroids. He has also written on the history of astronomy, the origin of the Solar System and the impact threat to planet Earth.
Hughes also taught undergraduates at the University of Sheffield, specialising in the history of astronomy, solar and planetary studies, and geophysics; however, as of October 2007 he is retired. The University gave him an emeritus chair.
Hughes was born in East Retford, Nottinghamshire, and educated at Mundella School, Nottingham, Birmingham University (1959–1962, where he got a degree in physics) and Oxford University (1962–1965, New College and the University Observatory), where he got a D. Phil in solar astrophysics.
Hughes has often appeared on TV, most notably with the live coverage of the ESA Giotto space mission to Halley's Comet and discussing the Star of Bethlehem. (He wrote the book The Star of Bethlehem: an astronomer's confirmation, Walker, Pocket, Dent, Corgi, 1979). Since retiring Hughes has spent his life in Sheffield writing about astronomy, being a member of the Royal Astronomical Society's Astronomy Heritage Committee. He enjoys giving astronomy talks on cruise ships, where, on many occasions, he represents the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.
Hughes enjoys collecting livery buttons, Chinese ceramics and cast-iron railway signs. He is married to Carole Stott (who also writes on astronomy and space) and they have two children, Ellen and Owen.
Awards and honours
The Mars-crossing asteroid 4205 David Hughes, discovered by Edward Bowell in 1985, was named in his honor. The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on 2 November 1990 (M.P.C. 17223).