David Hughes (astronomer)
David W. Hughes (* ca. 1940) 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.
Asteroid 4205 was named in his honour: see Meanings of minor planet names: 4001–4500.
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).
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.
Since retiring Hughes has spent his life in Sheffield writing about astronomy, being a member of the Royal Astronomical Society's Astronomy Heritage Committee and collecting livery buttons, Chinese ceramics and cast-iron railway signs. He also enjoys giving astronomy talks on cruise ships, where, on many occasions, he represents the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC.
He is married to Carole Stott (who also writes on astronomy and space) and they have two children, Ellen and Owen.
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