BAA electronic bulletin
Brian Geoffrey Marsden 5 August 1937 – 18 November 2010
It is with great sadness I have to report the death of Brian Marsden. For many years Brian ran the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams and the Minor Planet Centre at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory. Throughout this time he has been a stalwart supporter of the amateur community, working closely with Guy Hurst to ensure the quality and integrity of discovery reports from amateur astronomers. His loss will be keenly felt by the many amateurs who have benefited from his support and advice over the years.
Brian was born in Cambridge, England. After graduating from Oxford University with a degree in mathematics he moved to Yale University Observatory to carry out research into orbital mechanics, in due course obtaining a PhD on "The Motions of the Galilean Satellites of Jupiter". He then joined the staff of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory to work on improving the calculation of cometary orbits.
In 1968 Brian succeeded Dr. Owen Gingerich as director of the International Astronomical Union's Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams, the organisation responsible for disseminating information worldwide about the discoveries of comets, novae, supernovae and other objects of generally transient astronomical interest. In 1978 he also became director of the IAU's Minor Planet Center. While working at CBAT computing comet orbits, he recognised the existence of a group of relatively short period comets discovered by the SOHO spacecraft which are now known as the "Marsden Group". In 2000 he handed over directorship of CBAT to Daniel Green and 6 years later directorship of the MPC to Dr. Timothy Spahr.
Dr. Marsden leaves a wife Nancy Lou, children Cynthia and Jonathan and grandchildren Nikhilas, Nathaniel and Neena. His sister Sylvia Custerson lives in Cambridge, England.
We extend our sincere condolences to all members of his family.
British Astronomical Association
(with apologies for the incomplete earlier transmission)
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Colin James Watling
Real Astronomer and head of the Comet section for LYRA (Lowestoft and Great Yarmouth Regional Astronomers) also head of K.A.G (Kessingland Astronomy Group) and Navigator (Astrogator) of the Stars (Fieldwork)