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Biographical entry Woolley, Richard van der Riet (1906 - 1986)


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    Richard van der Riet Woolley

24 April 1906
Weymouth, Dorset, England
24 December 1986


Richard Woolley was Director of the Mount Stromlo Observatory 1939-1955, Astronomer Royal, United Kingdom 1956-1971 and Director of the South African Astronomical Observatory 1972-1976. He was an early and consistent advocate for the Anglo-Australian telescope.


Born Weymouth, Dorset, England, 24 April 1906. Died 24 December 1986. Educated Universities of Cape Town (MSc) and Cambridge (BA 1928, PhD 1931, ScD 1951). OBE 1953, Kt cr 1963. Commonwealth Fund Fellowship, Mt Wilson Observatory, California 1929-31, Isaac Newton Student, Cambridge 1931-33, Chief Assistant, Royal Observatory, Greenwich 1933-37, John Couch Adams Astronomer, University of Cambridge 1937-39, director, Mount Stromlo Observatory 1939-55, professor of astronomy, Australian National University 1950-55, Astronomer Royal, UK 1956-71, first Director, South African Astronomical Observatory 1972-76. President, Royal Astronomical Society 1963-65, President, ANZAAS 1955. Fellow, Royal Society 1953, Foundation Fellow, Australian Academy of Science 1954, Gold Medal, Royal Astronomical Society 1971.

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Archival resources

Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science

  • Richard van der Riet Woolley - Records, July 1927, MS 194; Adolph Basser Library, Australian Academy of Science. Details

Published resources

Encyclopedia of Australian Science Exhibitions


  • Ophel, Trevor and Jenkin, John, Fire in the Belly: the First Fifty Years of the Pioneer School at the ANU (Canberra: Research School of Physical Science and Engineering, Institute of Advanced Studies, ANU, 1996), 157 pp. Details
  • Woolley, Richard van der Riet, The Longest Tyranny: an Inaugural Lecture Delivered at Canberra on 28 July 1955 (Canberra: Australian National University, 1955), 27 pp. Details

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Richard van der Riet Woolley


Rosanne Walker