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. ^ "A giant outburst two years before the core-collapse of a massive star". Nature. 14 June 2007. arXiv:astro-ph/0703663v2. Bibcode:2007Natur.447..829P. doi:10.1038/nature05825. Retrieved 12 October 2016.
  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. Retrieved 26 August 2010. '2009ij' in August 2009 ... number 125 or '2009io' a few nights later
  9. ^ Schmadel, Lutz D. (2006). Dictionary of Minor Planet Names – (84417) Ritabo, Addendum to Fifth Edition: 2003–2005. Springer Berlin Heidelberg. p. 234. ISBN 978-3-540-34361-5. Retrieved 12 October 2016.

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