Queen's Astrophysicist

11 Nov 2014

Brian May is best known as the guitarist for Queen.  But he also has more than a passing interest in science.  

His father was an engineer for the British Ministry of Aviation and he had high hopes that his son would also embark on some kind of scientific career.  He was most disappointed when Brian abandoned his scientific education for rock n' roll.

But he did accomplish a few things first.  Studying physics and math at Imperial College London, he graduated with an honors degree.  Although he bailed on his PhD to concentrate on queen, he did manage to co-author two papers:  MgI Emission in the Night-Sky Spectrum (1972) and An Investigation of the Motion of Zodiacal Dust Particles (Part I) (1973).  For those papers, he spent quite a bit of time at the Teide Observatory in the Canary Islands.

Along with Sir Patrick Moore and Chris Lintott, May co-authored the 2006 book Bang! – The Complete History of the Universe.  A year later, he finally completed his PhD in astrophysics after submitting his PhD thesis, A Survey of Radial Velocities in the Zodiacal Dust Cloud.

If that weren’t enough, he has an asteroid named after him:  52665 Brianmay.

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