More About the Author
Steve Ringwood FRAS (b. 1953)
Has been writing for enjoyment since his school days. This initial teenage output consisted of short sci-fi stories and humorous poetry (the latter, a decade before this genre became popular through Pam Ayres!). First published work, at 15, was inclusion of rather more serious poetry in two anthologies. His first literary sale was a short science fiction story in the pages of Computer Weekly - the story line concerning a dating agency computer. There followed contributions to both UK and US astronomy magazines - most of the time also editing and supplying material to the journal of his local astronomical society. This latter material included the comedic astronomers' problem page which provided the inspiration for Astronomers Anonymous.
A regular contributor to the now deceased Modern Astronomer magazine, he is currently a contributing consultant to the UK's best selling Astronomy Now magazine, writing features, book and equipment reviews together with his 'Astro Loot' new products page. A keen observer, the author has a strong interest in the history of astronomy and (on the practical front) the technical enhancement of telescopic observation. In addition to early work on the use of Kodak Wratten photographic filters to enhance observation of planetary detail, he has also experimented with IR, UV and high-resolution astro-photography of the Sun, Moon and planets.
Alongside astronomy, enjoys an only slightly less passionate interest in palaeontology (fossils). These two disparate disciplines came briefly together in his 1979 study showing a clear link between mass extinctions and galactic rotation (through the spiral arms), including the Permian and K-T boundary events - subsequently cited in New Scientist and Astronomy & Geophysics.
In 1976, at the onset of 'Détente', he was a member of the first group of astronomers (since the Iron Curtain descended) to visit Russia's Pulkova Observatory complex located near St. Petersburg (then still called Leningrad).
During 1982, co-inventor with Robert Langley of the Reflective Diaphragm Telescope (RDT). Replacing heavy glass with Mylar film stretched over a partially evacuated shallow cylinder, a curved optical surface was imposed by exterior air pressure. The focal length could be changed at will (and hence, the focal ratio) by adjusting the degree of vacuum within the cylinder. A 12" Newtonian reflector trial rig was built by the author and used to observe Saturn in demonstration of its potential. Similar flux collectors were also being developed by other teams during this period; one by Dr. Waddell of Strathclyde university subsequently instigated the interest of NASA.
With fellow astronomer Dave Gill, observed the 1984 annular solar eclipse from Morocco to contribute data for the U.S. Naval Observatory's pivotal study of solar disk oscillations. Other scientific work includes a refinement of the Titius-Bode Law of planetary distances and (via a replica telescope) duplication of original Galilean observations - the latter revealing why Galileo did not record Jupiter's prominent equatorial belts and scotching the widely-held theory that he lied about the dates of his late 1610 phase observations of Venus - critical in the confirmation of the heliocentric universe.
Via Letters, New Scientist, suggested in June 1997 that the brief glow of coloured TLPs (Transient Lunar Phenomena) may be light refracted through icy dust clouds raised by small meteoroidal impacts; a suggestion enhanced by the recent discovery of water ice by NASA's Lunar Impactor mission and subsequent probes.
Steve was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1984.
During the summer of 2011, the author established his own unique design of a run-off roof observatory, housing a 12" Meade catadioptric telescope with which he now cruises the universe.