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Cardiff academic named President of the Royal Astronomical Society

25 May 2021

Professor Mike Edmunds, from the School of Physics and Astronomy, has been elected the next President of the Royal Astronomical Society (RAS).

Announced at the RAS Annual General Meeting, Professor Edmunds will sit on the RAS Council with immediate effect and will take up office in May 2022, serving as President for two years.

The RAS, founded in 1820, encourages and promotes the study of astronomy, solar-system science, geophysics and closely related branches of science.

With over 4,000 members, the RAS engages in a wide variety of activities that serve the astronomy community, from monthly and annual scientific meetings to publishing world-leading academic journals and engaging the public through an extensive astronomy outreach programme.

Professor Edmunds, a former Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy, has spent a large part of his career undergoing research to determine the chemical composition of galaxies and the Universe.

After receiving his undergraduate degree and doctorate from the University of Cambridge, he moved to Wales where he has worked for over 45 years. He has been a member of two of the UK’s Research Councils.

Professor Edmunds headed up the Antikythera Mechanism Research Project, an international collaboration investigating the extraordinary astronomical machine dating from around the 200 BC, discovered by sponge divers over a century ago, off the Greek island of Antikythera.

Described as the oldest example of an analogue computer, research by Professor Edmunds and his team has shown how it was used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses decades in advance.

On being elected President, Professor Edmunds said: “It is a very great honour for me to become President of the Royal Astronomical Society. It is a highly-respected organisation that I have greatly enjoyed working with in the past, and I really look forward to taking a major role in its future development.”

Professor Peter Smowton, Head of the School of Physics and Astronomy said: “I am delighted to congratulate Mike on his appointment as President-elect of the Royal Astronomical Society. Mike is an inspirational educator, scientist and manager with tremendous abilities and enthusiasm and will be in good company, bringing these skills to this prestigious position, with a history of having an outstanding scientist at its helm.”

Professor Edmunds talks about his new role in the latest episode of the 'Pythagorean Astronomy' podcast. You can listen here.

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