Richard van der Riet Woolley
(1906-1986)

 

English astronomer whose work included observational and theoretical astrophysics, stellar dynamics and the dynamics of the Galaxy.

Woolley was born in Weymouth, Dorset, and studied at Cape Town, South Africa, and at Cambridge. He was director of the Commonwealth Observatory at Mount Stromlo, Canberra, Australia, 1939-55, and Astronomer Royal at Herstmonceux, Sussex, England, 1956-70.
The observatory at Mount Stromlo was devoted mainly to solar physics, and Woolley devoted much of his time there to the study of photospheric convection, emission spectra of the chromosphere, and the solar corona. He pioneered the observation of monochromatic magnitudes and constructed colour magnitude arrays for globular clusters.
During the 15 years that he spent as Astronomer Royal, his personal interests were globular clusters, the evolution of galactic orbits, improvements of radial velocities, and a re-evaluation of RR Lyrae luminosities.


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