Peter B. Lawrence
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|Known for||Popularizing Astronomy
Peter B. Lawrence is a British amateur astronomer best known for his popularization of astronomy on the BBC's The Sky at Night with Sir Patrick Moore, Paul Abel and Prof. Chris Lintott. He is also well known for his high resolution images of the Sun, Moon and Planets.
Lawrence first became interested in astronomy when he was a small boy, around the time of the Apollo Moon landings. His parents bought him a small 40mm refractor telescope and very soon, after hunting down the planet Saturn with it, he was hooked.
Lawrence recalls 'I remember Sir Patrick Moore visiting my school and leaving such a strong lasting impression that I decided I just had to have a larger telescope. Being a schoolboy at the time, my funds were limited so my next telescope was completely homemade; I even ground the main 8.75" mirror myself!' Mirror grinding is a very labour intensive task, and it took Lawrence a long time to make the mirror. The final instrument was successfully used for a number of years prior to Lawrence leaving home to study astrophysics at University.
After gaining his degree, Lawrence moved into software development and was the director of a computer software company called Data Graphic Applications Limited for many years. Astronomy became his main focus again after the loss of his youngest brother, James, in 2004.
To date, many of Lawrence's images have been published both in magazines, books and on the internet. He has had more than 200 images published on the popular Spaceweather website as well as having numerous Astronomy Picture of the Day entries published. All of his current work have been published under the name Pete Lawrence.
Lawrence is probably best known for innovative approaches to imaging, which show astronomical events and phenomena in unusual ways. Examples of this include the Lunar Parallax Demonstration Project (Lunar Parallax Demonstration Project – 2004 update) and the Search for the Shadow of Venus (Search for the Venusian Shadow – part 2).
In recent years Lawrence joined the team of co-presenters on the BBC's The Sky at Night, he has also written many articles on the subject and provides the monthly Sky Guide for the BBC Sky at Night Magazine. He provided general astronomical advice for the BBC Wonders of the Solar System series and acted as astronomical consultant for the BBC Stargazing Live series aired in early January 2011. He was also the astronomical consultant for the long running BBC Radio 4 series, The Archers.
He frequently produces high resolution images of the Sun in particular and the Moon and planets from his observatory in Selsey.
Lawrence attended and graduated from the University of Leicester with an honours degree in Physics with Astrophysics, but the fortuitously timed lure of an interesting job in computer software development diverted him away from any further academic studies.
Lawrence continues to promote astronomy through popular articles and television. He has appeared on Blue Peter and his skills and advice are much sought after in the field of solar and planetary imaging.
His interest in the night sky continues unabated today, and he has merged his computer expertise with astronomy, using digital cameras for astrophotography. Here, the lure and challenge of being able to capture images of dynamic astronomical events proved irresistible and after many years he now has an extensive library of images.
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