Tom Boles

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Thomas Boles (born 1944 in Lennoxtown in Scotland) is a Scottish amateur astronomer, discoverer of astronomical objects, author, broadcaster and former communications and computer engineer, who observes from his private "Coddenham Observatory" (234) in Coddenham, Suffolk, United Kingdom.[1][2] He is known for having discovered a record number of supernovae.[3][4] The main-belt asteroid 7648 Tomboles is named in his honor.[1]

He was President of the British Astronomical Association from 2003 to 2005 and Vice President from 2005 to 2007. He is a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society and an Examinations Moderator in astronomy with the International Baccalaureate. At the International Astronomical Union, he was a member of Division VIII Galaxies & the Universe and "Commission 28" until 2012 and 2015, respectively, and is currently a member of IAU's division C and J (Education, Outreach and Heritage; Galaxies and Cosmology).[5]

Boles has co-authored three text books on popular astronomy and has published numerous articles in Astronomy Now, Sky and Telescope; the Austrian The Star Observer, the Journal of the British Astronomical Association, and in the journal The Astronomer.[citation needed] In 2007 he co-authored a research paper about a "giant outburst two years before the core-collapse of a massive star" in the journal Nature.[6]

Boles holds a bachelor's degree in biochemistry from the Open University. He held director level appointments over a period of 18 years with four multinational computer companies. He retired in 2001 to dedicate himself to astronomy work and to help with the public Outreach of astronomy.[citation needed]


Minor planets discovered: 1 [7]
84417 Ritabo 5 October 2002 MPC

He currently holds the record of spotting the most supernovae by one person: 149 supernovae.[4] As of 2003, Boles and Mark Armstrong are the "most successful exploding star hunters in history."[3] He broke the record after discovering his 124th supernova '2009ij', followed by supernova number 125 '2009io' a few nights later. The previous record holder was Swiss astronomer Fritz Zwicky, who discovered 123 supernovae before his death in 1974. The record was unbroken for 36 years.[8]

Boles has also discovered a nova in the Andromeda Galaxy and 84417 Ritabo, an asteroid in the middle region of the main-belt, which he named after his wife Rita Boles.[9]


In 2008 he was awarded the Merlin Medal by the British Astronomical Association in recognition of his contribution to the advancement of astronomy. In 2008 the inner main-belt asteroid 7648 Tomboles, discovered by Japanese astronomers Yoshikane Mizuno and Toshimasa Furuta, was named after him in recognition of his contribution to astronomy.[1] He received the George Alcock Award from The Astronomer Magazine. He presented the Inaugural Thomas Tannahill Memorial lecture in 2009 at the request of the Astronomical Society of Glasgow.

Public outreach[edit]

Boles has co-authored three text books on popular astronomy:

Boles's Television broadcasts include: Co-presenting BBC Tomorrow's World and guest appearances on several BBC programmes such as The Sky at Night, Final Frontiers, All Night Star Party (from Jodrell Bank); BBC Astronomers and ITV Vera Productions. Radio Broadcasts include Radio 2, Suffolk Radio, BBC Essex, Radio Northampton, Three Counties Radio, Radio Scotland, World Radio (Netherlands) and BBC Citizen Science.[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "7648 Tomboles (1989 TB1)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  2. ^ "Homepage". Coddenham Astronomical Observatory. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  3. ^ a b Whitehouse, David (16 September 2003). "Exploding star hunters make history". BBC News. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  4. ^ a b "List of Supernovae". IAU Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams. IAU – International Astronomical Union. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  5. ^ "Individual Members – Thomas Boles". IAU – International Astronomical Union. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  6. ^ Zampieri, L.; Xu, D.; Turatto, M.; Stanishev, V.; Smoker, J. V.; Nielsen, T. B.; Nakano, S.; Meng, X.; Mazzali, P. A.; Lorenzi, V.; Iijima, T.; Keenan, F. P.; Harutyunyan, A.; Elias-Rosa, N.; Dennefeld, M.; Deng, J.; Cao, C.; Bufano, F.; Botticella, M. T.; Bonnet-Bidaud, J.-M; Boles, T.; Cappellaro, E.; Benetti, S.; Augusteijn, T.; Agnoletto, I.; Patat, F.; Valenti, S.; Navasardyan, H.; Yamaoka, H.; et al. (14 June 2007). "A giant outburst two years before the core-collapse of a massive star". Nature. 447 (7146): 829–832. arXiv:astro-ph/0703663v2. Bibcode:2007Natur.447..829P. doi:10.1038/nature05825. PMID 17568740. S2CID 4409319.
  7. ^ "Minor Planet Discoverers (by number)". Minor Planet Center. 4 September 2016. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  8. ^ "Amateur British astronomer takes world record for most supernova". 11 September 2009. Archived from the original on 15 September 2009. Retrieved 26 August 2010. '2009ij' in August 2009 ... number 125 or '2009io' a few nights later
  9. ^ Schmadel, Lutz D. (2006). "(84417) Ritabo [2.70, 0.17, 11.3]". Dictionary of Minor Planet Names – (84417) Ritabo, Addendum to Fifth Edition: 2003–2005. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 234. doi:10.1007/978-3-540-34361-5_2785. ISBN 978-3-540-34361-5.

External links[edit]